Photo dossier: PARK rehearsals.
These photos were taken during the early rehearsals for the ongoing performance work PARK with director/ choreographer Kathy Westwater and dancers in the studios of Dance Theater Workshop, an apparently neutral, abstract space, which could refer and be transposed into virtually any context, but which is a specific built environment in itself.
I had begun composing "pop-up pastorals" for the book-in-progress Exit 43 at Djerassi Resident Artists Program, where I met Kathy Westwater and discovered an affinity in our practices. I set out to tackle the problem of representing ambient catastrophe by spatializing text, placing it into relation with shredded visual footage of landscapes utopian and dystopian, to make new stratified landscapes or "archaeologies." Words were drawn from newspaper and magazine articles about consumerism, contamination, disease, and real estate, Superfund documents made public by the Environmental Protection Agency, sites of corporate advertisement and defense, Victorian poetasters penning pastorals ever more hemmed in by the industrial revolution, and the documentation of a more direct, intimate experience with ambient phenomena. They were then slotted into the sampled (non)logics of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, set into implosive, nonlinear spatial relations. From the beginning, these were regarded as the scores for a choral work.
In the studio, in beginning our collaboration for PARK Kathy and I began experimenting with the relocation of these texts from the page onto and through the human body in the form of movement and vocalization. From the moment that the dancers began interpreting them gesturally--each in a highly individual, exploratory mode--I came to realize how these works, ostensibly about what is "out there," were inherently about corporeality. Below is the text of a dialogue we began over email in September 2009:
Kathy: I've been thinking a lot about these ideas that you brought up about the representation of landscape in your visual poetry and then in the rarified environment of the studio/stage. It does seem to be a very important conceptual and formal concern for this piece. And then how those things relate to the body. You talked previously about your interest in the text being reflexive to the body/movement. I've started by going in the inverse direction: how the body can be reflexive of the text. But it seems as though maybe the body is absorbing it as well. So it's a deepening sort of reflexivity.
Jennifer: Watching the process unfolding was an immensely provocative and gratifying experience. I'm even more excited about the possibilities now than I was when they were juggled around in the abstract (and that doesn't always happen--sometimes ideas seem more interesting than their instantiation can be!). It struck me that even if I hadn't been "foregrounding" the body, so to speak, in making those pieces (which I tend to call "stills" as in film stills) it is everywhere in those lines, as the dolorously receiving and frenetically reprocessed, reprocessing end of toxins and of history that are buried in the landscape in which it stands/lies down/strolls/etc. 1-he body's activation in reaction to the text physicalizes such reprocessing, almost as if the words are toxins or releases with which the dancers are wrestling. On the other hand, even as the text/scapes are literally incorporated by the dancers, they are in being regarded on the page several steps removed, petrified, even what the Marxists would call reified: representations of landscape hovering apart. I'm sure that in moving forward my writing will be influenced by these witnessed oddments of reciprocity--so that the text will in tortuous fashion be reflexive of these bodies and how they have dealt, as well as of the space excavated and overseen.
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|Title Annotation:||Section III|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2011|
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