Blog entry Tuesday, October 24, 2006
openness, relationship, other
The last Field meeting we had, we discussed how best to achieve this kind of open relationship with performance and not fall into a more direct contact with the audience. One of the best paradigms of what we're trying to explain is the playground (especially Chelsea) and the most successful Field event so far has been the one called 'The Playground' which produced the chaos of the playground and some great moments of interaction and imagination. But I think we all recognised that without having a fairly strict "world" to stick to we fell into a more direct relationship with the audience than we wanted. In other words I think we need to be more like the kids and less like the workers. So some important points we discussed were:
- that the actions/worlds we do/inhabit for the performance have no 'knowable' meaning for the audience.
-It's important for the audience to feel that whatever is happening would be happening without their presence. it's like an installation in this sense but always changing and ongoing. I thought about making it non-verbal but if people want to use words that's fine but maybe avoid using the audience in what they're doing.
- that we limit ourselves to our world quite strictly which we can move away from and develop but, like on a piece of elastic, we return to it if we feel we are losing our reality, or not losing our reality enough.
Don’t think about ‘performing’, it’s almost enough that we are there. Almost, but not quite. The difficulty is in finding things which are enough but not too much.
The questions are still centred around what creates and affects space? How do we experience the other? How do we achieve an openness?
Blog entry December 2006
Programme notes from the Field sharing
Chisenhale Dance Space
Field started off as a desire to place improvised dance and music in the same space - to create an open space of discussion (not necessarily verbal) and creativity. The music scene I inhabit seemed at the time too insular, maybe even provincial. I had been living abroad where a cross-disciplinary sharing seemed very natural, and that was what I was after. I was frustrated of worlds not colliding.
Easy enough to achieve, but there wasn’t really much discussion or change, music stayed as music, dance as dance, and we all went off to our own corners. Fair enough, we have our separate worlds for various reasons, like a community.
So what was I trying to do or say? It seemed I had an idea of what was important in the work and roughly a place I wanted to get to, and this necessarily meant working outside of recognised areas - such as music and dance. Exactly why this was necessary I have an idea but I’m not exactly sure. Field has always been against interpretation in some way - a loaded statement I know - so in order to avoid certain ‘interpretations’ I couldn’t have it read simply as ‘music’ or anything else. It seemed necessary to highlight the body and the situation around it without a recognised aesthetic interfering.
Therefore, Field events became installations or live art events.
What it has become more specifically, and what this last project has been focussed on, is an enquiry into space. The work of Doreen Massey was hugely influential in this, not least for her articulation of things I was struggling with for a long time. I heard Doreen speak about her book “For Space” and sent her a cheeky email telling her about the work. Amazingly she replied with enthusiasm and we met and talked, mainly about football. Doreen came and participated in one event.
What was it she had articulated? A definition of space as something which is open and always being constructed - something which offers up the possibility, the recognition of the other: other things are happening in other places and they are different to this, of different spaces. Something which lets the world in. Place as an event.
In some way, Field is a response to how it feels to walk down the street or in day to day relations - an experience of spacelessness, a kind of a vacuum which acknowledges only the violence of a line of progress - dismissing history, otherness and anyone who does not live on that 'line'. The violence of everyone's straight (even when curved) line, of all events happening all at once, everywhere, instantaneously. No history - no accountability. No difference, just a different point on the line.
There are many other references in this work, an important one being my (and some of the other performers’) experience of working in an inclusive (special needs ) playground. if you looking for a place of potential, shared imagination, otherness, all mixed up - different worlds together, then that’s a very good example. (Often a very difficult place, too). If they are different worlds can you even say they are happening at the same time? Or side by side? They are just there together, they may have something to do with each other or they may not.
These are questions I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Five years ago I published a piece of music with a dancer entitled “Mute Correspondence”. I got the title looking at the sky in relation to the land.
Field got it’s name from one of John Berger’s poems. Then I discovered an essay by him actually called “Field”, which seemed to articulate a lot of what we were talking about in the work: about how to achieve an appreciation of space through being. How to not do too much, how to not scapegoat the audience. How to be more real than we would be otherwise. I can’t really say things like more real I know, but there you go. I think that’s why we make the work.
new work
What now for Field? For me, the Hastings event was very successful - in a quiet way. This was because of the effect the performers had on the space through their relationships with each other and the 'audience', some of whom had come because of the performance but mostly were people passing through - out for a walk.
There were many moments of contact between performer and audience, but without undermining each person's reality. We were conscious of not wanting to scapegoat the audience. Not make it street-theatre.
We had talked a lot before about the playground analogy, and previous Field events have focussed on this paradigm, with interesting and useful outcomes. But we had spoken a lot about how the relationships had occurred between people and how our own creativity had developed through the piece. Field is necessarily improvised, but that doesn't exclude structure, or anything else. It just means there is an openness which "does not ignore the possibility of other things happening at other moments" (thanks Stella!).
The playgrounds mentioned are inclusive - in a play setting this means open to children with special needs - and this is an important difference in that we felt it necessary to be less like a playworker and more like one of the children; mainly because a child with special needs' world is often unobvious, but equally furtive and full of possibilities. It's not something you can take for granted, the motivation is often blurred, as is the point of focus. Nor is it done to be looked at, and quite often not even to be shared (sharing may not be an understandable concept). We weren't out to copy or pretend to be a child like this but these were important things to think about in relation to how we were to be in our field, relational and physical. The physical aspect is important. Space is not purely about us and our 'crossing trajectories' through it. It's made up of earth, rain, concrete, grass, buildings, flesh, blood, shit.... it feels important to reclaim that somehow.
New work will focus on what each person can do, our relationship to the place and trying to make some stories out of it, always avoiding a significant, validating gameplan.
pam gilmore
rachel cockburn
scopac (rob flint)
tim jeeves
yumino seki
matt davis
links to the Field
live art events
a proper afternoon
for space