of ruins or something (2), 2012
Effie, Brandon, Lauren, sheet, kitchen timers (2), chairs (2), knitting, tv, Dimensions Variable, Duration Variable
Video & photographic documentation of a performance on April 9th, 2012 / Movement Research at the Judson Church / Choreography by Lauren Bakst / Performance by Effie Bowen and Brandon Washington / Costumes by Mariana Valencia / Sound by Rihanna.
Beginnings and Endings:
I really wanted to make a dance with Effie. We would go into the studio together and I would give us things to do. Like find ways to get down and get back up again. Find ways to move each other through space.
The ending of the dance came first. Two chairs: Effie sits in one and I sit in the other. Effie knits for an extended amount of time while I repeat the phrase, "There are an infinite number of ways to get down and get back up again." (Effie would knit every rehearsal and now there is a shawl.) Each half holds each other. Life moves up and down, rises and falls, but the undercurrent is always a crossing, a weaving. A moving through and under and over at the same time that everything is going up and going down, falling apart and coming together, coming together and falling apart.
So this is where we end but it is consequently also where we begin. In our own ways, we get down and we get back up. We get down and we get back up again. Before I knew it, the dance was full of these little rituals.
I was very stuck in the process. I was in my head too much. One day I came to rehearsal with a baby blue sheet that my partner Parker's grandmother has given us. I put it over my head and danced like a freak very slowly to Beyonce. After a couple of rehearsals, I changed the music from Beyonce to Rihanna's "We Found Love." I love this song. I love this song because it is completley constructed to make you feel something and it always does. It is also extremely violent. And then there's the image of Rihanna and the narrative attached to her, which is all wrapped up in sex and violence. I needed the dance to acknowledge these things.
For a while, it was just me under the sheet. Effie practiced difficult positions while I danced like a freak under the sheet. But after some great feedback from my friend Jen McGinn, I realized that someone else needed to be under the sheet. That's when I invited Brandon into the process. I barely knew Brandon at the time and he brought an entirely new energy to the piece. It just all began to click.
It took Effie and I a while to figure out how to perform our difficult positions. As women, we need a particular strategy. I want my work to acknowledge, resist, and subvert the male gaze all at once, and this takes a certain kind of performative awareness. We are powerful and subtly confrontational, but we are also inviting you to look at us. How are you looking? And what is the power of your look? How can I fuck with that? This is what I'm interested in.
Objects and Ghosts:
The piece has these things: kitchen timers, a sheet, two chairs, knitting, a television. All of these objects have domestic, feminine resonances. I am interested in how multiple times are at work in any given moment. I believe that certain objects can enliven the ghostly presences that haunt and shape our experience of the contemporary. I like to leave space for these specters to arise and inform the dance.
When I started making this dance, I wrote the following sentence:
Infinite tragedies and small joys abound within this simplicity full of potential for something I don't know.