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Chora. Note on Relating

January 2020

Poetics of space, not dramaturgy of actions

The space gives the movement, the movement unveils the space.
We are working on a different relation of time and space: different from installation in which space is exhibited and visitors move; different from performance in which time moves and spectators watch.

We are interested in how spaces, various spaces move bodies – performers’ bodies as well as visitors’ bodies. We take ”space” as relational sensorium in which bodies are being moved by being here – through affections, sensations, perceptions: listening, seeing, sensing, experiences of closeness and distance.

”Being moved” is taken in all senses: the physical and somatic movement of the body as well as the affective and reflective movement of the soul and the mind – feeling and thinking.

We are interested in how such a being moved by relations is given back to a space, allowing the space to appear: The space gives the movement, the movement unveils the space.

The main difference in this approach on the side of the performers and their training is that we work on perception and opening up the sensitive antennas of bodies, their awareness for affections, their becoming ”passible” (as a very active way of being passive). We do not work on shapes, we do not intentionally produce a recognisable, readable language of movement. And we also do not work against it, it simply is not our interest.

The main difference on the side of the visitors is that we do not offer any dramaturgy and thus no implied interpretation to be discovered. We do not work on the level of meaning, we do not aim for readable, understandable and recognisable connections; and also not for the opposite. We are trying to change the register. We do not take visitors as detectives who have to find out something, be that meaning, concept, task, score. We want to go before and beyond that and invite audience to let be, let appear what is already here.

Like a landscape the space will open up to the viewer but it is not made for them.

We encourage and invite performers as well as audience to let go of looking for, recognising and identifying relations and rather let them happen, contemplate space, be surprised. We encourage to stop searching for and to forget about missing something.

We understand our work as a space in which relations and connections are not already given, already produced and understood but as a space that opens up to relations – makes them become present, lets them become the space of presence. We do not (re)present relations, we are creating conditions in which they can appear.

The beauty is in the appearing of a relation, in its becoming present, its being born out of nothing and for nothing – again and again.

That is why we do not fill up nothingness. We let it be. Out of nothing and for nothing movement originates. A movement that serves nothing.

We name it ”poetics of space” to put the light on this coming into presence of any and every movement; and to differentiate it from shaping actions and connections that might be the essence of dramaturgy.

I could also say: We work on the conditions – time and space, sensing – and not on the content (or: we take the conditions as content).

This is the reason why movement is different in, of and for all the elements we work with: Movement in and of video images, movement in and of texts, movement in and of a live performance is different from each other because it happens in different spaces. The conditions of time and space are different in the various landscapes shown in video images, different in words and imagination, different in the live environment performers and visitors inhabit and pass through.

The main focus is not on the shape of the movement – the movements of the bodies do not exist independently from where they are, from which space moves the bodies. We try to stay as close as possible to sensed and perceived space and time as themselves moving conditions for movement: the where moves bodies and the bodies’ movement lets the where as where appear. The where drives us, motivates us, moves us – in every sense.

One of the ancient mythological names for a space in movement out of which movement emerges is ”chora”. It still today echoes in the word ”choreography”. Thus, we are working on the essence of choreography as being the art of moving and being moved by time and space.

Parataxis, not syntaxis

One can connect things having a goal, a finality, a unity in mind, aiming for it.

We are looking for ways of relating, connecting, that do not close on unity, finality but that are essentially open.

Ways of relating in which one goes to the other, lets go again, goes on etc. – thus creating an open string, open to infinity. No consecutiveness, no consequence, no progression. But moments of an infinite and and and, one next to the other, in various relations of distance and closeness, of density and looseness, of lightness and heaviness etc. We are interested in intensity and extensity.

A paratactic way of relating rather than a syntactic one, shifting the focus from causality and finality to musicality, to rhythm and infinity.

In paratactic strings difference, distance, separation, pauses – spaces in-between – are not the opposite of relating but the very space for relations. Relations do not fill the gaps, they need them, they come out of them – gaps and relations let each other appear.

This is also true about the relations between different elements and spaces we work with: We do not glue videos, live performance, objects, texts together, trying to bring them closer, thus forming a whole. Our work is not immersive. The ”being-in” we are creating is not total, it is not closed, it is an open whole, a lot of nothing.

The being-in consists of in-betweens, it is an interspace.

In an interspace some elements and spaces can be very closely connected, almost becoming the same; some can be very distant and far away, almost becoming unrelated.

We work with autonomy of different spaces and elements. The autonomy of an element (text, video, performance…) is the condition for relations to happen while at the same time its autonomy can only appear in and as relation to others.

A copy of this text was published here