Salzburg Open Mind festival – Probability Praxis 7 of 28 – Waxing Crescent
There was a dark energy upon finishing, major exhaustion. I felt that I had failed to some degree. There was a silence in the air, and there was maintained the distance of audience and performer that i could not seem to penetrate. in the end i attempted to invite some irony into the room with my gaze, to see if anyone else was feeling the same. i could not be sure. “what a strange dynamic performance is, is it not?!”
i spoke to some people they said, it was very sexually aggressive and confronting. someone had recently seen a film about a commune that was mean to be sexually liberating but in actuality was defined by rules, requirements, manipulations, sexual exploitation. In an effort for everyone to remain “open”, there were requirements that no one fall in love, and always be constantly switching partners. The flip side portrayed in the film is terrifying.
This same person suggested that perhaps the performance was too much in/between form (choreography) and freedom. Perhaps as a result we achieved neither. I can see the possibility of this – that in subtle asking for participation, we try to exist in the grey zone. But perhaps this grey zone leaves people confused. I have always wanted to live in grey zones – I think they best portray the nature of reality. And yet I agree they are the most difficult to deal with.
It is true, that fascism has crossed my mind. There are moments in the choreography that even the waving of my arms has reminded me of a dictator, trying to get everyone to follow, to salute. I am scared of this. Yet this is a part of ritual, of a gathering, to attempt the idea at group movement, group choreography, sameness. For some, it brings about joy. At least this was the intention of the dance choreography we do in “White Light”. That stated, perhaps it is true – no ritual “needs” the moment of sameness. But then again – must all sameness be squashed in favor of complete freedom? The opportunity for not doing the choreography always exists as an expression of freedom. Should we therefore not even invite the possibility? I am swishing this about in my mind.
Regarding the presentation of sexuality, it is true that I feel free in my body, in my nudity, in the way that I play with my own body, that is so normalized to me that I no longer see it from the outside. How could I anyway, there is no “it”, the “outside” is so multiple, there are thousands of perspectives. I have thought before about the twerking, about whether pushing our asses into the air is too confronting. Whether, in certain contexts, I should be more aware of safe space, of asking permission, of consent. I have asked before, “can I touch you?” when even laying my hand on another person, let alone pushing my ass into them. Although as I say “let alone” I draw attention to the presumed distinction between types of touch, and I feel already we have heirarchised and categorized even the parts of our own bodies to enter absurdity. I feel skeptical of this absurdity. I feel that it does not always serve us well. I feel mixed about whether or not I want to exercise the act of asking about touch, at all times, in every situation. Are bodies really so different from one another? Is this towards a more fluid sense of unity across borders?
However I have no intention of alienation, of terrifying people. I think a few people were terrified. They said so. One person said, she wanted to leave, but felt that they could not, because they wanted to see until the end. What would happen. Another said they felt very dark.
There is a moment in the performance that we write about our intention. I see in this light how this moment could be viewed ironically. That we state our intention and by stating it we point at how far we are from the actualization of it. Not just us as performers, as inviting magic, but as a society.
Since the last time we performed, Trump was elected and brought in a host of White Nationalists, or is planning to bring them, into the White House. We had been shouting before about Trump versus Clinton as the “binaries” we had as US citizens, to choose from. Rendering them meaningless. But the actuality of Trump is not “meaningless.” The difference is. But the unique instance is not.
I intend to embrace this sense of failure, of darkness. Sexuality alone is so hard to approach, because so many of us have experienced shame and trauma around our bodies, around sex. There are so many opportunities for the feeling of vulnerability and manipulation to arise. I dont want to run away from this, I want to engage and engage with sensitivity, and still be myself. I suppose there are many ways of asking for consent, and this task lies at the center. Consent and true actualization of dual commitment to a moment together. If no one wants to enter this with me, at least in a singular moment, I have to accept this and work with this. Our bodies are reflecting not only our own traumas but the traumas of the world.