The wood has become symbolic, to me, of the nature of the performance right now, its strengths which are also its weaknesses. The fixity of the performance, its text, sound and images. They are so strong, as powerful as the log with which I bash a hole through the borders of magical reality at the end of the performance. They are so strong that they work in spite of any context in which we find ourselves. And yet…
This holds back our ritual from being truly dynamic in the way that we would like it to be, so that we are not only carrying others in the ritual but are carried along by them. Only at certain moments of the performance where there is openness (the end, when the soundtrack concludes), does this moment of autonomy from the audience occasionally emerge, where people pick up the instruments take the microphone, sing sing sing, only in these moments is the performance “free”.
This ending which only sometimes, very rarely manifests itself has to be the model for the new iteration of this evolving idea.
Our latest multimedia work, PROXIMITY, has been released by Interim: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics for their Body Issue. This issue has been carefully curated by Autumn Widdoes, who took the opportunity to integrate her background in dance, performance, and poetry, to actively include works which “require the presence of the body.” We are so pleased to be part of this expansive approach to poetics and we are eternally grateful to the artists who made this work with us: movers Danilo Andrés, Tereza Silon, Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau, Bishop Black and ROC and cinematographers Jo Pollux and Raja de Luna.
Proximity, we might say, underlies everything–and nothing. A measurement of distance, an exactitude that defines a broad range of emotional perspectives and access to privilege. Birthright. Mobility. Trust. Community. Family. Language. Safety. Neighbor. Care–if one cares and how one cares.
But then again–does proximity bind? And what, if anything, is modified in the exchange of touch, skin contact? At the point of acceleration–what’s the thing that draws us together? That motivates care? And in the absence of touch, of proximity–what then? Do digital proximities fill in the emotional gaps, does VR substitute skin contact? Is Proximity, then, a hallucination? A necessary hallucination?
Building on the previous methods we developed for our work BINARIES, we utilized techniques and forms of attentiveness to create a work of A/V poetry: frames as syllables, seconds as stanzas, text merged with image, bodies merged into other bodies, subjects merged into objects.
Proximity attempts to represent not answers but questions, questions which are more often felt than articulated because their formation escapes both everyday and specialist academic vocabularies. They are questions posed by the skin, by orifices, by a gaze that mediates recognition or its opposite, care or its opposite across a room, across a skype call, across a Guardian front page.
These questions are suggested but not wholly contained by the video’s text:
do you recognize me my your sovereignty / I am not close to you / I am not there / it is not me / I make better contact with your ghost / how much of my body could I lose / does our proximity bind us / I am afraid to touch / I might get a sense of you if you were within / reach / the further away you are the easier it is to ignore you / are we close / even though we touch / I you can’t hear my your voice / proximity
These corporal questions are multiplied by the encounters that proliferate as a consequence of hypermediated thought and speech acts. Ultimately they form a territory for experience. Other bodies, present in their absence, or absent in presence, disturb my relations to my own body enmeshes my body in ever-multiplying exchange practices – of money, of fluids, of goods, of glances exchanged.
Each of these interlocutors is a singularity in and of itself. The other that is the subject/object of my gaze/desir/touch, or in whose gaze/desire/touch I am objectified/subjectivised, this other deserves its own question that is not subsumed in meta ethical questions like “how should others be treated?” Yet the work of asking this question for all the entities with which we are connected exceeds the limits of expression.
Proximity does not seek to ask the question for every body present to consciousness but to identify the necessity of seeing each relation we have — even those we have to invisible others via media, geopolitics and global systems of manufacturing and food harvesting — as worth questioning, as worth raising as a form of potential intimacy.
PROXIMITY is the first in a series of singles, associative mixed reality performances and audio visual installations that interact with the conceptual origins of the auditory process, entitled Foreign Bodies. The work has been developed through the practice of learning from individuals and communities who move in resistance to, in spite of, and as a result of the management and control of bodies by states and other authoritarian actors.
PROBABILITY PRAXIS 21 of 28 waning gibbous
COVEN – Underdog Gallery
short reflection and photos from Mil …
“I have really appreciated your open and inclusive approach to performance making. There is so much bullshit around in the world and in the art world that it was great to experience something genuine, layered but simple, and with integrity. I loved the different textures – smooth painted bodies, laced canvass strip used to wrapped Adrienne at the beginning, plain cotton strips used for blindfolds, a large plastic sheet, small pieces of paper, metal bars – that were used or been available during the ritual. And the fact that we were part of a breathable structure that allowed all of us, you, interlocutors and audience alike, to feel supported together but also left with plenty of space and time to improvise, join in or take a step back on our own, and in Nietzche’s words to become who we are. Someone said that a lesson in art he learned from Tarkovsky was to allow room for spirituality and to be true to reality. I think you achieved both in your performance of Critical Magic on Saturday. Thank you!” — Mil Vukovik Smart
PROBABILITY PRAXIS 21 of 28
London. COVEN at Underdog Gallery.
16.09.2017 Waning Gibbous
Interlocutors: Lizzie Masterton, Mil Vukovic-Smart
reflections from Kate
This centering, with the help of the interlocutors, was very helpful for me personally to ground myself during the show. And our intention was based on some of the work that Mil is doing currently about how people lie to themselves, and this causes the most stress in our lives. So our intention as a small group was about bringing to light the truth, and combating that self deception.
I would love to work more with contact dance during the blindfold moment. Focusing on the the very minuscule moments of contact, helping to create the eternal NOW. this is always challenging, not only with new audience members, but even with adrienne.
i loved the moment when lizzie came up and in the center lay down on the floor. i would in the future also bring people out of their chairs and lay them down on the floor. the chairs i found to be difficult to navigate. there was a moment of hesitation in myself and i think i went the “easier” route. i could have challenged myself more.
i overheard one person say something about the sexuality of the performance; i suppose i can completely understand, that the presentation of the almost nude body invites a sexualized gaze. And yet partly the idea of the nude body is the rawness, the naturalness of the form that we emerge as from birth. it somehow feels just as unnatural, or even more awkward, to cover the body with some kind of appropriated fabric, with its own origins, separateness, vague disorientation of origin. yet i also understand how the nude body can separate more.
there are some sound issues we have to take care of, ie, the boominess during federicas dance. and the synths in dong dae mun. this for next time.
i am enjoying the stage set, with the line across the stage and the hanging blindfolds. i would also like to create a static presentation, place for the plastic.
i am thinking about how to create a dynamic generation of the binaries so that the audience has more control over which ones are called out, and how to engender participation in this time, especially if the audience is shy to move.
again, like winchester, the verbal response afterwards was so overwhelmingly positive, warm, some person said it was the best thing theyd seen in london in years. another wrote us a beautiful note about magic. another was a dancer, who said that she felt inspired about what could be done, what still can be done, in the realm of participation. i felt lifted and carried by this and renewed in the labour of performative praxis.
PROBABILITY PRAXIS 20 of 28
Winchester, UK 15.09
(notes from Kate)
Someone we spoke to in Copenhagen gave us the idea that we should begin with a more focused energy, perhaps by asking everyone to clap at the same time. He suggested that this would allow us to pull everyone in, make everyone feel a part of the ritual, without having to say anything, and to give it more solemnity. We still havent tried that yet, but we are coming around to the idea. I suppose this series is about giving every idea a chance, to see how it will function.
We are doing better at getting the circle to come around and focusing together as a duo to come together but we both need to rehearse our vocal cues. we also feel that we need to refocus our spoken parts. i for one need to slow down when I am speaking and i would like to add something about the idea of “critical”, I want to communicate that I dont believe that simply by shouting out our intentions that we can make them real. But I do believe that by being in the same place together, forming a union together, in that space, even just touching bodies, even with our hands, we can make change.
Each time we perform this spoken part, I feel like it needs to be renewed and refreshed, to fit the particular context in which we are working. This is no doubt a challenge, especially when we have just a few hours pre show to soak in where we are. The centering that we have been doing, the mapping around our area, is helping me to feel more grounded and connected to our particular location. I think this is invaluable.
The “leave” and “remain” binary that Adrienne suggested I found both particularly triggering and powerful for people here, the white blindfolds as well. I still worry that the depart the octagon can approach clowning and I worry about this.
After the show we have a long talk about how important it is to us to set a beautiful stage and how we want to make more attention to the layout and design of the stage. In our dreams we make the altar and the technics the same thing — like a kind of transformation of the technological into the magical, or rather, posing them as possibility of one and same. But in order to do this I feel strongly that we need to have hardcases and a sturdy structure to hide the technical things from getting thrown on the ground.
I was happy to feel that many people were really moved by the show and that they went deep with us. At times I worried that there was shyness from audience members about body contact and involvement, but i realized from the verbal feedback afterwards that they were really moved. Even one conversation like this, even just one, makes me feel like we are continuing in productive art that is making change.
GENDER BENDING QUEER PARTYWORM, ROTTERDAM 02.09probability praxis 18 of 28 waning gibbous
Interlocutors:Pasquale di Morizio, Manon la Décadence , Lu, Carlijn Bakker, Sanne van Driel, Olave Basabose, Dennis Snorremansbest night ever. The Hyenaz did a ritual performance of about an hour. It is entirely magical. Me and some of the others were so-called interlocutors. our job was basically to help the audience engage the ritual. which was participatory. So we basically were in the audience (the 4 of us) leading by example, participating in the magic and stuff. That was amazing already, to be able to see the energy and engagement of the audience sort of ripple through us, and back to us from them. The interlocutors were covered in a shiny armor like silver body paint. I was afraid that it would be reminiscent of armor, statues, robotic disconnection. But in the space it seemed to highlight our physicality instead. I felt very much protected by the bodypaint, as the energy rose and the many ripples collided, and the intentions became entirely tangible in the space. At some point, the Hyenaz invited us to yell out our intentions. At this point I had drifted to the stage and I was able to oversee the whole audience. The engagement had become total, the ripples united in one maelstrom of power, focused intention for a better world. It was like being in a temple of the body, body magic, body sacracity embodied. These wilful creatures of the oppressed, repressed, objectified, violenced, violated, erased and humiliaties bodies, were, before my eyes, transformed in both a sharp-edged sword, and harbor, havens for the lost, the hopeful, the loving, the hungry, the licking, the sucking and fucking. Sharp edged, cause I heard intentions that cut to the core of where we are not. I heard some call: “liberation” others “freedom”, others “solidarity”, I added “black liberation” in a cacophonic symphony of the angry, the clear-eyed and visionary queers in the room. By the time we invited people to dance blindfolded, guided and touched by others who are not blindfolded, I felt safe. I took one of the blindfolds and moved through the audience. I was caressed, bit, kissed, held, pushed down, pushed up, and I didn’t care. I wanted my shiny, silvery armor to be touched, smudged. I wanted to be felt. I remember vividly someone pressing a hairy, hard upper leg between my exposed buttcheeks. The pressure of the string I was wearing on my anus intensified, and it seemed like an upwards fountain of energy sprung up from prostrate or anus through to the crown of my head. It made me dizzy. Another memory is the hand that caressed and cocooned one of my cheeks. i leaned into it, challenging gravity, challenging the strength of the hand, challenging my own daring. I leaned in deeper and deeper, held nothing back. The hand, unseen, disembodied, met my challenge. it held all of me, gently and protectively. The hand guided me to my knees, my forehead to the floor; i took the opportunity to speak gratitude into the universe, for hands that caress and protect, that accept the dares we put to them, that reward our courage and trust, and have the strength to hold all of us. It was more than body magic to me. It was ancestral magic to me as well. when the ceremony started, i decided to call upon Imana, and my ancestors (who undoubtedly practiced the cult of Imana) to guide me through this moment. to give me the wisdom of movement and intention, so long lost now. Colonization in Burundi took away a spiritual system and technology that had been carefully crafted, tested and improved upon for centuries. I hoped that some of that wisdom and craft could be granted to them, in that moment. As the Burundi healers of old must have undoubtedly led and guided mass rituals, I felt confident that my ancestors would be up to the task of gifting me with the body language and visualisations necessary to be of service to the ritual participants. And they did, these undoubtedly queer ancestors of mine, they moved me, and offered me a tactile perception of unseens forces and energies coalescing and moving and concentrating, symbols and signs moved before my mind’s eye, power symbols and signs I am sure, I became a pillar of all that energy, I think. I have to be honest that my memory of the ritual is slowly starting to recede into, I suspect, the codes of my genetic programming, the inner lining of my hemoglobins, into a myriad of synaptic configurations, into the nape of my neck, the curve of my pelvis, the rise of my penis, the depth of my pallet. I think that that is the way of all that is true to the body, it must be absorbed into it, transmutated into life. I am going to be okay with that, I want to be okay with that, I want to embrace that that is the way of body magic. — Olave Basabose