Official Video trailer – ITAWL

Here is the official video trailer for our new work, Is this a Waste Land? We will be completing the creation of this new head-phoned live performance work this spring with the first public performances in April and May 2017.

We are working with an extraordinary team of artists and collaborators and we look forward to sharing the new work with you soon!

In the mean time, enjoy this short 2 min video. Camera and edit by David McCormick, sound by Tom Spencer.

Is this a Waste Land? is commissioned by Deep Roots Tall Trees, and a Compass Commission from Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban. Additional funding has come from the National Lottery through Grants for the Arts from Arts Council England, a successful crowd-funding campaign and Patrons of Charlotte Spencer Projects. The project is supported via South East Dance and Jerwood Charitable Trust Dramaturg in Residence programme.

Field Notes.4 – Gian Paolo Cottino

Welcome to 2017. Here is the fourth and final set of notes from Gian Paolo Cottino during our Forest Residency in August 2016. These notes follow an early dawn walk and a remarkable time listening to the internal sounds of trees on the final day of our residency.

PART FOUR

Moving between sleep and wakefulness.
This morning we awake at four thirty and proceed to walk towards the east, towards dawn. We are experimenting with Petra’s proposition of moving between sleep and wakefulness and to witness one another in this place.

When we reach the open fields belonging to the estate (as does the plantation we have been camping in), our path is sided by a ditch or a trough, and a wall holds our path back and above this ditch in the earth. This is the Deer Leap that Charlotte had told us about. A system devised to keep the deer that would jump down into the estate’s grounds from ever being able to return to the surrounding common woods.

I stay back and watch the group descend a small distance into the open valley of the estate. There they settle in a sleepy and silent witnessing of dawn. They look east and watch the pink and orange glow of the sun rise as a ball into the sky.

I feel the desire not to join them in that silence and set about looking for a tree. I see an old oak towards the north with a small incline of earth to one side of it and I walk there to lie down on my poncho. As I move between sleep and wakefulness I watch below me a line of experiences looking into the sun.

I feel strongly aware of following my instincts, and I notice the judgement of my self as I separate from the main group.

Looking on from here, I see the awake sleepers as a pride of lions in the early light of a savannah.

To the heart through a tree.
After Petra’s Sweaties and Friskies exercise ( revolutionary fun), I walk toward a circle of ash trees. They are maybe six to eight metres tall, their circumference between 30 and 40 cm. There are perhaps eight of them and they are still young and supple enough to bend easily in the wind.

Placing my ear against it’s skin I listen to one of these trees and I become aware that I can hear it’s wood, it’s fibrous body, bending and stretching and creaking like a ship in a sea of earthly fluids. I hear it’s branches touching another’s. Then I hear my heart and I become aware that it is beating faster and faster, louder…and I sense also that the tree is aware of me. Extending Ben’s craniosacral exercise and practising it with a non human being, I touch the tree and move into the tree and then responsively allow the tree to move into me. The whole experience softens me and yet I simultaneously feel strengthened by the sensuous exchange . As the whole group embraces my proposition to repeat this exercise together, I see our experience of this time and place shift and go deeper still. And I am definitely thankful.

Field Notes.3 – Gian Paolo Cottino

Here is the third set of field notes from Gian Paolo Cottino. The fourth and final one will be published in the new year.

PART THREE

The Water Hole.
I plunged into a pool of water whose surface was being strimmed by the wind. I was my father as a younger and leaner self. I watched him disappear under the water, agitated and concerned. Then, he re-emerged, calm, knowing and un-movable by the forces that had gripped the younger man to become dependent on drugs.

This morning, at first light, I walk to the water hole we had seen on our initial hike through the plantation. I want to look deeper within me, I want to find the stillness in these waters…and from this stillness to know.

I find my place under a pine tree on the southern edge of the body of water. Facing the north and in the midst of morning practice I see a man approaching on the track to my left. Ahead of him a Staffie dog is running, excited and bashful, seemingly led by a contortion of irrepressible muscle. I notice the man has removed his shirt to bathe in the sun’s light even though the morning is still crisp. His body is muscular and tattooed, and his head is shaved. I can see the dog’s curiosity is leading him towards the area I am in, and for a moment I consider the possibility of my presence surprising him and causing him alarm and agitation. For a moment I consider also that this man might equally be surprised by me and become irritated by the otherness between us and perhaps even question my purpose. But then I watch in stillness and I notice I am invisible to them. I notice also that it is the choice to be grounded and still that means I have been unnoticed.

The man sits down on the large boulder to my left and bathes in the light of the sun. Concerned of startling him I introduce my presence with a greeting.

His voice is soft, his being suddenly startled by another’s. We converse tentatively, about the water, the deer, the fox and the dragonflies and then he carries on with his journey, leaving me in the peace we’d both sought.

Woodpecker.
I see your strong neck vibrate and repeat your heart’s desires into the hard wood and I notice that it is with this beat that you make your home within the tree.

Field Notes.2 – Gian Paolo Cottino

Here is the next installment of observations from our time in the King’s Wood in August 2016 from collaborator and artist, Gian Paolo Cottino.

PART TWO

I feel I belong
I belong when I allow myself to belong.
I belong when I have the courage to belong.
I belong when my authentic self is welcomed by others.
I belong when I acknowledge the other.
I belong when I can give thanks.
I belong when I accept differences and take joy in the connections.
I belong when my eyes meet another’s and I see them light up.
I belong when I utter my name to the earth and I speak my truth.
I belong when I dare to have desires and longings.
I belong when I step away from the stories I tell about who I am.
I belong with my ancestors.
I belong to my self.
I belong in the landscapes within me and in the folds of the body I caress and walk upon.
I belong when I do my best.
I belong when I witness the mystery and I allow it to see me, naked and raw.

Then I am well.

Watching.
Working to no logical conclusion, they appear as suspended in the experience of work. Are we all caught in a loop of performance?

I see big casted knots of plaster in varying colours float just above the ground, soft and doughy lengths having been worked into different configurations, yet each rooted in a practical task, each functioning in relation to the elements.

Field notes.1 – Gian Paolo Cottino

Here are a series of observations and field notes from Gian Paolo Cottino, during our working time in the forest. Gian’s detailed and poetic observations elucidate our activities and realms of conversation, through the lens of his experience and thought processes which arose from this intense working time together. I will publish them in a series of 4 parts over the coming weeks.

PART ONE

King’s Wood, Kent. August 2016.
I walk, the coppiced hearts of the chestnut trees touching me as I make my way to camp.

They keep giving, keep on providing, continuously bringing the earth into the sky. There is renewal here, every day.

I think about renewal through practice, how every day we might renew the self and every day renew our relationship to mystery, recommitting each day to our true longings.

Peripheral Vision
I become aware of myself and of how I am included and enveloped in that which I see. I belong in this material.

As I let go all my senses open, my body relaxes and moves of it’s own accord, and mind follows, diving into the joy of connection. My jaw drops, my mouth opens, I speak with the dragonflies.

I see the wind and feel her all over me, becoming aware and remembering that she is communication between all things.

Seeds high up in the air.

This peripheral vision softens my gaze to see all as one fabric, one material, and yet… it is also the way of the hunter and the stalker and of the indigenous warrior and the martial artist. It is impersonal yet all inclusive.

Crow glitters in the sun of the north.

Crawling
I see insects and plants I hadn’t been been able to perceive when once I walked upright.

Here there is an abundance of new colours, of new forms, and the small yet sharp intentions of lives. They grow upon me, covering me in their universe. My head wants to go deeper, drop further down. Now I find it difficult to perceive what lies ahead. It is a space of immediacy and intoxicating instinct.

Time slows down and I become entrenched with the ground. I smell and follow spoor. Animals and birds are less alarmed by my slow pace. The light is flickering on the ground and in the woods, playing optical games inspired by the trees. Soon they are kaleidoscopic and hallucinogenic like effects, transporting my body ahead of me and into the thicket.

I am reminded of an article that pointed toward the forest’s interplay of light and shadow and to humans’ relationship with the hallucinogenic plants of these arboreal places (and hence the spool of images and the emotive response of imagination) as the trigger and origin of abstract thought. The leaps of light and the stirring of shadows quickening our mind as it follows helpless the imaginative image.

Turning onto my back I walk the sky and all the weight of my body is lifted.

Rocks aren’t Lonely

by Jennifer-Lynn Crawford

A small meditation on a few questions that came up at the very start of this last phase of ITAWL research:
‘what are the things that make me ok’ and ‘things that make me feel I belong’

These two questions were given by Charlotte as part of the forest residency back in the summer, and after going to see George Monbiot’s Loneliness Project in Leeds a little while ago, they resurfaced and…

What is OK?

OK is a great metric. I like that it expresses a general satisfaction – a kind of resting state between not-good and good. Just sort of regular. Not exceptional in either a positive or negative direction. I feel much of life is happening in this in-between place – that much of life looks for this quality of OK. It’s pretty stable.

I also appreciate that this was linked to ‘belonging’ in the task. I struggled with this association, as I’m sure many might and also many might not. On the basement level of my being, I notice a profound OK-ness when I am not contemplating belonging… a little like the refrigerator hum, or other sensory events you don’t notice yourself as noticing until they cease, I don’t normally notice the sensation of belonging unless I am not. This shows up on the surface level of me as a kind of anxious murmuring and muttering over the gap where belonging isn’t part of my assumption about the world.

I don’t always know that the gap is in the belonging area – I just know that something isn’t ‘OK’ and as is my wont when not-OK, I put on one of my favourite costumes: that of a single, solitary rock in a wide empty space. Of course, that tends to make the not-OK-ness bloom in the most vibrant colours not-OK-ness comes in.

It’s funny-ironic that I’ve never quite been able to grasp that that gap is relational. That I turn in on myself to examine something that can only be seen in the light that other people carry with them… I’ve always thought it was something I was needing to do in myself, and all the time, it turns out, I just needed to remember that I’m not a rock, but part of a tribe called people.

I mean, sometimes the rock is a wonderfully functional costume – particularly when joining/being joined by other rock-types. Sometimes the tribe I need to remember I’m part of is bigger than people, or needs to be other life that isn’t people. Whichever way I play with the wording, the sensation of belonging, rather than having a gap somewhere (where belonging should be) is a bit like having a home. The sensation of I-am-where-I-should-be is physical, a deep satisfaction that doesn’t beg questions. It doesn’t demand anything of you, and in fact, it allows you to just get on with whatever it is you were up to (which probably involves ‘other’ in some way).

I find it interesting that I have an idea that it’s possible to exist by ‘myself’ – that when I think of ‘self’ I tend not to think of how that self is a palimpsest of all the other selves, the other people and lives, it has ever encountered… I mean, it’s not as if I got here alone. But when faced with a question about belonging, I tend to answer as if all the others who I’ve lived alongside – my family, my friends, the various and changing communities I arrive in, live in, and depart from, in short, all the lives to whom I belong – are somehow not part of my OK-ness. I tend to answer as if only I, alone on the me-raft, circling the island of self, am responsible for my own OK-ness.

The Me-Raft

A lecture given by Sandra Noeth prompted the following:
“…one body is no body – spectating is a kind of co-habitation – I live in you for a bit, or at least, with you… ‘just’ a body does not exist – it’s totally abstract – we’ve simply adopted it in the same way that we separate everything from everything else and then think we’ve got a ‘thing’ (because we’ve removed it from its context and set it out by itself) – we are of the same material”

If anybody did ever exist solely by themselves, ‘we’, all the others, would probably never know about it. One body = NoBody.

I can’t imagine what that life would be like. Except for….

This me-raft is a received idea – it’s one you learn through experience. Rebecca Solnit, in her very on-point piece The Ideology of Isolation discusses the disconnection that epitomises right wing ideology: ‘yourself for yourself on your own’ I can trace the reception of this idea in myself to my 1 family and a particular sort of privacy insisted upon by my father. This wasn’t something ever questioned because there was also a very clear and fixed hierarchy that existed between us. My father was a firm supporter of the euphemism that children should be seen and not heard.

He was also an extremist in some ways and had no qualms about making a point (his point). If I moved too far from my position in the family-tree, he tended to refer to larger hierarchical structures outside the family-tribe such as the police, the medical system and the educational system in a very direct and practical way. This served a dual purpose – I had the impression of his authority being upheld, and also, that the only ‘others’ outside the family tribe were generally much taller hierarchies which loomed with much larger shadows over my lowly position.

So, I discovered the me-raft at a very young and impressionable age and I also discovered through the very private family-tribe that there wasn’t anyone ‘else’ around. Or at least, no-body who was going to intervene in the hierarchy and the sanctity of parent-child relationships. It left me in a bit of a quandary – I clearly didn’t feel OK in the hierarchy, but any moves to change it left me outside of it, in a land where I had even less resource as a minor. A minor who doesn’t have ready access to ‘others’ in the guise of extended family or family friends gets ‘systematised’ scarily fast… testing the waters there had me re-tracing my steps fairly rapidly.

I grew up a bit scared of mostly everything, convinced that anytime I didn’t make good of my bottom feeder role in supporting the top of the tree, I would be cast off into the cold cold world.

Tribes

So why, apart from common human interest, would I be writing this in relation to this project?

I guess, in many ways, family is both the first environment and the first tribe we have. I’m not sharing my story here because I’m seeking acknowledgement for it in and of itself, but as an example of how simple it can be to pass on and hold on to a sense of disconnection or isolation borne of fear. Of course, it’s obvious that our first sense of connection or disconnection, our first sense of belonging, of the world as safe, scary and totally new, comes from the familyenvironment-tribe. Equally, the obvious is often the realm where the barriers arise. The family-tribe either helps us find the world as an already-there-with-me place or a-place-we-keep-at-a-distance.

My experience of the world through most of my early years and adolescence was fear-based – even if fun and interesting stuff happened, it happened in spite of a threatening, disconnected world that I was forever in danger of getting cast off into. I went through a period of depression when I was 12. The world already seemed sad and burdensome and I was still in grade school. Writing that seems hilarious, but… it sucked to be me at that time. I’m sure it also sucked to be my teachers and grade school friends and my parents, wondering what the problem was.

And if this is my fairly tame white, middle-class suburban childhood version of the kind of gap an isolationist, fear-based and hierarchical power structure creates… what else can happen in that gap if it were to be heightened by circumstances that have nothing to do with much apart from geography and genetics? It isn’t even a ‘what makes me belong’ question at a particular threshold – there is a point where the notion of belonging is such a distant glimmer that the question itself becomes a fantasy. Belonging becomes a species of experiences that applies to ‘others’. I imagine many children right now who are entitled-to but prevented-from joining relatives in the UK/other countries with increasingly obstacle-strewn borders as suffering a gap in belonging that is so big it might be broken.

George Monbiot’s Loneliness Project

George Monbiot is a dose of sanity every few weeks in the Guardian. I appreciate how his ecological approach, the accessibility and openness of his writing and his surety about our okness, our mutual belonging as humans, generates hope in me.

The construction of the evening is simple, but it works. George speaks mostly of content that he’s addressed through his online writings, but I’m still happy to hear it again, Ewan McLennan plays (very beautifully), and at the end, they ask us all to sing together. Along the way, I’m finding that I’m moved, the images and characters of the songs and stories finding their mark in my own life. Before they finish for the night, they invite us to turn to the person next to us and introduce ourselves. I meet someone who works for the Campaign to End Loneliness. We chat for a bit, he has very sparkly socks, fabulous shoes and shares a bottle of prosecco with his date…. and then… I need to go. I’m not at the event with anyone else, and the resonance of loneliness and old age through the songs is a bit of a soft squishy underbelly for me at the moment and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Ironic response to Monbiot’s intent I think.

It’s interesting to witness a direct approach – Monbiot is literally making a project of dispelling loneliness – and to see that it seems to work for many people. He’s pointing at it, naming it, and then doing something about it and inviting us in to that. It’s great. I wonder what the legacy will be? I’m hopeful that for some people, they just needed a little nudge, a little wave and sign-posting to find a way towards greater belonging and greater inclusivity.

“Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together, or we fall apart.”

I like the image of the vertical – that we can find our strength together there, in our stance – and the dissembling of our selves and the iconic ‘fall’ as the other term of the dualism. It is clever and a nice turn of phrase. And I’m reminded of another favourite writer, Jeffrey Maitland, from the land of Rolfing, Zen and philosophy:

“In the end, there is nothing unique about being unique. The power lies in what is common.”

Although I like Monbiot’s phrase, I get just a little bit stuck on the ‘or’ – it’s a classic tool and one we’ve been saddled with as a culture for far too long. The binary opposition pattern is part of the 2 Guardian 3 p xvi, Embodied Being winners v. losers structure that has us believing in the island of self and constructing me-rafts. Plus, I think we fall apart anyway, it’s part of what we do from time to time – the bigger question is whether we have enough between us to help each other regardless of where we are in the standing/falling cycle.

Of course we do… We’ve got a whole tribe called ‘life’ in common.

Sometimes it’s hard to point at this, name it, if you’ve been given a specific kind of costume by circumstances in early life or if you’ve had to row the me-raft hard for a long time. Maybe making a project, like Monbiot, is a help. Joining a meaningful art-process, like the one this blog is written around. Making a practice of OK-ness through the varied events of everything. Charting your palimpsest for all the other selves to whom you belong and remembering that one body is no body. That in watching or noticing each other, we co-habit: I live in you for a bit, and you live in me. I think that last can be called empathy. And that although it takes effort to do this in a politics and economy that would still have us believing in one-or-the-other, it is possible for us to engage in what Rick Dolphijn refers to as the ‘relational nature of difference’.

Post Script: Obviously, everyone’s childhood memories are extremely personal and contingent. My parents were two people doing what they felt they could around my mother’s ongoing ill-health and my father’s desire to inject some normalcy into the land of illness (which is entirely abnormal and unpredictable).They each had their own personal contexts that contributed to family structure and politics in ways I’ll never know about.


¹ p1 The ideology of isolation
² Guardian
³ p xvi, Embodied Being

Written

Dolphijn, R. & van der Tuin, I. (2012) New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Open Humanities Press.
Maitland, J. (2016) Embodied Being. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books
Monbiot, G. (2016) Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That’s what’s wrenching society apart. Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/12/ neoliberalism-creating-loneliness-wrenching-society-apart [accessed on 7.11.2016]
Solnit, R. (2016) The Ideology of Isolation. Harper’s, [online] Available at: http://harpers.org/ archive/2016/07/the-ideology-of-isolation/1/ [accessed on 7.11.2016] Verhaeghe, P. (2012). Capitalism and Psychology – Identity and Angst: on Civilisation’s New Discontent. Vermeersch, W. (ed.), Belgian Society and Politics 2012. Available at: http:// paulverhaeghe.psychoanalysis.be/artikels/Identity%20and%20Angst.pdf [accessed on 7.11.2016]
Verhaeghe, P. (2014) Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us.Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethicspersonality-psychopathicsthic [accessed on 7.11.2016]

Other

Childhood and other life-changing experiences
Monbiot, G. and McLennan, E. (2016) The Loneliness Project [Performance] All Hallows Church, Leeds [21.10]
Noethe, S. (2015) Symposium 2015: Dispositives of the Body [Lecture] Haus der Kunst,Tanzwerkstatt Europa, Munich [02.08]

Life ITAWL Everything

Jennifer is doing a WAY better job than me at writing blog posts about the work we did on Is this a Waste Land? over the summer. And below is another entry from her. I will get to mine soon I promise! But in the mean time I have to finish the next funding application to the Arts Council to help fund the rest of the project, and raise our target for our current crowd-funding campaign! So, if you’d like to support the cause…then follow this link: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/is-this-a-waste-land

Otherwise, enjoy Jennifer’s most recent piece of writing. It’s about our time on site in Corby at the start of October 2016. Photos and video footage from Corby coming SOON!

Life, ITAWL and Everything – Jennifer-Lynn Crawford

I’m enjoying the parallelisms of Is this a Waste Land? (ITAWL) There is a deep intertwin(n)ing of life activities and art activities occupying the root-system of the ITAWL tree – something I discussed a bit in this post on practice and projects – that I readily acknowledge and embrace. The parallel line here is that we’ve begun to write some words, not just in blogs, but to hang them in the air, for other people to listen to, as members of a future audience.

It’s a bit pointy. Not in a negative sense – I’m not sure why ‘pointy’ as an adjective seems to have negative connotations for me, but I feel like it might – but in the sense that ITAWL is coming to a point in some ways… multiple points in many ways.

It’s important and satisfying to write about practicing as a way for the work to come to be, and it’s more important and satisfying to practice that practice with the others and then it’s somehow a bit less satisfying, though still very important, to try and project that practice into the immediate future, where the other other people (aka audience-participants) are. In some senses (more than others) leading up to the sharing we had last week, it felt like ITAWL needed a bit more project-perfume to get itself ready for people to participate. I felt myself struggling with the sharing’s long shadow.

I remember a similar feeling from the days of Walking Stories. I get a little frustrated with imagining how people are going to respond to instructions and find my focus becomes pretty diffuse, flickering between so many different possibilities. It feels like trying to reverse-engineer a creamy soup. Minestrone would be more articulable than this rich bisque (I’ve never actually had bisque, but it looks like the most texturally uniform soup on Google).

Paul Carter, a theorist who seems to work in so many different fields I’m really not sure how to describe his location, refers to some of the difficulties of urban planning with the phrase ‘the planned encounter’ – it really resonates for me. An encounter is inherently unplanned; it happens spontaneously. Planning is pretty much… not that. So the notion of a ‘planned encounter’ is paradoxical, in a way that seems relevant for ITAWL. In a lecture he gave at Leeds Uni last month, he notes that there is a dominant assumption that people want, or should want, to interact with each other. This over-determination at the planning stage closes down any real choice-making, any real possibilities for an encounter to take place.

Personally…

I don’t like telling people what to do. My way through this has evolved over time and I notice I make a lot of propositions. I leave ideas with lots of space around them when I offer them to others. I tend to be indirect, probing, offering, suggesting…

But what we are doing here in ITAWL isn’t that. It’s based in a need to communicate with people in a way that asks them to step away from their own ways of doing things – to do things that perhaps they wouldn’t otherwise. We aren’t, as Charlotte says, asking them to join a workshop (I’m good at designing those BTW) but to participate in a performance. In most ways, they are producing the performance. They’ll need some directing. In the same way that we need directions when we are going somewhere for the first time because they give us an orientation, these people will need directions.

How do we create sound borders for somebody else’s performance?

Conversations with CCL (Corby Civils and Lintels)

“Now comes the messy work of fashioning spontaneous speech”¹ (Stern, 2010)1

Daniel Stern is famous for many books, predominantly in the field of developmental psychology, but the one that he wrote last (Forms of Vitality) is quickly becoming my favourite. As he says in the first chapter: “We live impressions of vitality like we breathe air”²… I can’t disagree.

Stern articulates this phenomenon of life (so accessibly) across a spectrum of activity and towards the end of the book, focuses on therapeutic practice, in particular ‘talking therapies.’ At one point, he traces the expression of vitality through and into spoken language. When he refers to ‘fashioning spontaneous speech’ I feel my ITAWL tuning fork start to hum. It has a similar vibration to Paul Carter’s ‘planned encounter’ in that I feel we are trying to capture the planned/fashioning encounter-speech in all its gooey vitality (or creamy soup).

In our case, ITAWL-speaking, the site is the conversation-encounter and the materiality we find/ bring there is the back and forth of that conversation. I don’t want to liken the material stuff to words – because they are utterly different and part of ITAWL is in drawing attention to that – rather, the material stuff of the site is the way that we gain the possibility to have the ‘conversation’ that is Corby Civils And Lintels (this is how the site is listed on the Corby Council website; it’s also signposted at the entrance).

I guess that sounds a bit abstract. Site as conversation. What I experience this as is a to-ing and fro-ing (in me) when in Corby Civils and Lintels that is totally individual to me and my apprehension of its particularity. It is a very different conversation to the kind I have, for example, with any other place, even if it’s maybe part of the same species of place. For example, in driving to the site each day, my conversation with the interior of the car really contrasts: the car asks things of my fingers, of my focal vision that CCL doesn’t unless I lie down on my belly and get my face close to its ground. Everything in the car is a little bit right up against me, or right up behind me or just right there – buttons and dials and random ends of things on slidey surfaces and moulded seating. My feet are quiet-to-non-existent in the car. I could keep giving examples, but it’s just trying to capture the creamy soup with a colander. I’m using familiar body parts because they are readily available – but the conversation is a totality that isn’t closed and includes all of me and all of CCL, not just the bits I can name and point to. The more time I spent in CCL, the more I was able to notice the subtleties of our interaction. I could not do that from a distance – the conversation was only possible in proximity.

Agents Gorell Barnes promote CCL on their website (https://gorellbarnes.co.uk/property/gennerpark-corby-northants-nn17-5fd/) as ‘a ‘blank canvas’ where ‘(o)ccupiers have the opportunity to be located within a high quality landscaped environment, close to local services with a mobile workforce in close proximity’

The kind of conversation they’ve had with Corby Civils and Lintels is obviously very different. The place, the site, the actual stuff of CCL, in that kind of conversation, has nothing to say. Apart from a convenient fountain of workforce nearby, the distance that this abstract process called Representation has responsibility for opening includes a lack of feeling, a lack of presence. The site is blank for Gorell Barnes. They could have their chat with CCL on Skype and wouldn’t notice anything amiss.

One end or two?

“Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei” (German proverb)
(Everything has one end, only the sausage has two)

When a place has been ‘blanked’ (or ‘space-d’, depending on which theorist you read – flattened into universality and divested of vitality), then it has only one end – the one that gets planned on to it. Place that remains unfinished always has multiple ends, mostly undecided and yet-to-be. Maybe a bit like lots of sausages heaped together. I don’t really eat sausages, but I really like that German proverb about them, with its forecast of inevitable ending and proposal of hopeful alternatives – or hopeful ending and anomalous alternatives.

Part of the distinction I proposed previously between practice and projects has to do with borders and temporal orientation (which way does it lean in time? does it have beginnings and endings?):

“Practice has a growth orientation that will continue to evolve over time, whereas a project has a border – we can finish a project and go on to something else. We don’t really finish a practice, although we might leave it for a while/ever. Practice seems to refer to itself – it doesn’t lean out into the future in the way that a project does – it stays in the act of doing”

I think part of the challenge, for me at least, in bringing things to a point in ITAWL, is that we need to ‘do’ something with the practicing, and in some ways, this demand is asking us to make a project of the practice. The sausage disappears – and an ending, a sharing, appears in its stead.

For something with >1 end, it’s hard to figure out where to put the borders in, even if they might only be temporary. What do you close off if you don’t yet know what might happen?

One End, For Now

In the end, the sharing was a lovely event. It confirmed the potency of the conversations we hoped to broker between people and place.

CCL: you will be different again, next we meet, and the kinds of conversation will be too… we won’t know until we get there. “Who is meeting and who is met? It all depends where you stand and how you move”³ (Carter, 2013)

I still have many questions. I’m not sure how we manage the project of practicing other people’s performance until they get there to do it themselves. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the parallel (of) direction, offering direction and trying to find that myself.

And sausages. Vegetarian sausages.

 


¹p 123, Forms of Vitality 1
²p 3, Forms of Vitality 2
³(I’m not sure of the page number as I was cheat-reading on an Amazon-Kindle preview), Meeting 3 Place: The Human Encounter and the Challenge of Coexistence

Books

Brouwer, J., Mulder, A. & Spuybroek, L. (Eds) (2012) Vital Beauty: Reclaiming Aesthetics in the Tangle of Technology and Nature. NAI Publishers.
Carter, P. (2013) Meeting Place: The Human Encounter and the Challenge of Coexistence. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Rogoff, I. (2000) Terra Infirma: Geogrpahy’s Visual Culture. London, New York: Routledge. Stern, D. (2010) Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience in Psychology, the Arts, Psychotherapy, and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Other

Google (tool for getting lost)
Carter, P. (2016) On Choreotopography (Lecture) Leeds.
Corby Civils and Lintels (19-22.09 and 6-7.10.16) (Site) Corby.
Various places – cars, my bike, houses/flats, my home, bike shed, dance/yoga studios, theatre spaces, trains, cafes, pubs, parks, open outdoor spaces that aren’t designated, rail stations, treatment rooms.