I’m writing now, at my desk, being sedentary, thinking, not thinking, a bit stuck (PhD chapter), then I’ll go to see Les Ballets C de la B and then I’ll come home and pack for this – four days occupying Siobhan Davies studios for What_Now 2014, and look forward to a different, and perhaps less sedentary, way of doing some thinking.
Some reflections after the event:
What is it we do when we make something? What is the something? Andwhat if the making is an emergent process without a fixed idea of what the something will be? I celebrate the opportunity to have had the space and opportunity to think through these questions with What_Now? with so many artists. But at the same time, I can’t seem to help imagine that a visiting public want and expect something to ‘happen’ in line with more established and conventional structures. I hope I’m underestimating that public. It’s more likely that I’m underestimating myself!
The question of the ‘something’ is the question that still resonates with me from What_Now? That the ‘something’ sometimes got re-positioned and questioned during our time together felt deeply political.
At times I felt I was lazy in this process. I think I may have had moments of guilt and doubt, but these moments were happily fleeting. I am reminded of that Bertrand Russell essay In Praise of Idleness. Idleness may not be the best word to use, but ‘ease’, ‘rest’, ‘time’, ‘space’, or simply ‘being’ might be. At other times, I felt enthused, and energetic. Flow flows. And, sometimes flow slows, or sticks. Accepting the ‘either’ and the ‘and’, seems like the key.
But this process was sometimes discombobulating. Was I the only one to feel this?
The question of how it is to make something and what the something is has been re-framed by my experience working in the studio with others these past few weeks. I have just finished three weeks of improvising – two with Ruth Zaporah in Spain, and one with Billie Hanne in Brussels. Attending to the ‘moment by moment’ is, of course, the stock-in-trade. But the problem of process leading to product often, it seems to me, gets confused in improvisation practices. Especially when we only get one encounter with the product. We know it for the same amount of time as the watcher does. In this way, the privilege of encountering the product seems quite equally distributed between all the makers (performers/watchers) but of course all our ‘knowings’ are different and plural. We have to accept we are co-independent in these processes. Our co-ness is due to the fact that, while we’re alive, we share the same time, but our independence comes from the multiplicity of our perception of that time.
Like everyday life.
What_Now? has resonated covertly through these three weeks. The What_Now? process and the processes of the last three weeks, have similarities and differences. The similarities are perhaps obvious – being present, attending to the space, environment, and the feeling. But they are different processes in that the What_Now? process challenged what thestructure could look/be like. In the improvisation practices the structures are more or less codified. In What_Now? the structure was less so. I think; I felt.
I believe it is a great challenge for us to crack open the structures we put in place to make, to be, to live, to work, to organize. I deeply wish for this cracking open to happen in the way we organise the sharing of our resources – money, minerals etc. What_Now? was a potent example of how we might practice de-forming and re-forming embedded/entrenched structures. I hope the template for What_Now? 2014 will be cracked open again next year and the year after, and after that again.