‘An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play’ is co-created through a collaboration between two dance / movement artists Joseph Lau and myself and two sound artists / composers Stelios Manousakis and Stephanie Pan.
We met each other through other projects and life events (e.g. Stephanie and I first met working on a production with Belarus Free Theatre in 2012) and over the years we started making work together. Over this time, we discovered mutual intersections e.g., an interest in interdisciplinarity, an interest the body in art (both as subject and as the art itself), an interest in audience engagement, and the fact that we all live away from our countries of birth. The latter consequently meaning we all have global experiences of living and working that has developed a common interest in creating work that has an international outlook but local relevance (e.g., that is ‘glocal’).
‘An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play’ is a part of a larger project ‘They Gather’, co-created by the four of us. ‘They Gather’ is a project that creates ‘gatherings’ of people, action, dance, sound and music and was developed through: observations formed across 20 years of socially and politically engaged artistic practice as well as being inspired by Nonviolent Communication and the feminist philosophy “the personal is political”. Rather than being with one issue, ‘They Gather’ seeks to find ways to be with underbellies and does this by creating separate but interrelated works (it is multi-modal).
PHOTO CAPTION: ’Lost In Feeling’ from ‘They Gather’ during Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. ‘Lost In Feeling’ is a mass public participation work for audience, community and artists. Occupying public space with bodies, sound and the use of localised FM radio networks, the choreography emerges through a performed score that instigates and investigates swarm behaviours through embodied algorithmic thinking. Photographer SBeausy Photography. www.stephbeausaert.com)
So why did we create ‘An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play? We firstly had to ask ourselves as artists on a project that creates ‘gatherings’ what are the themes and concepts within our project that are still pertinent when distant from each other.
We were taken to ideas such as mutuality, the need for self-expression and creativity and creating collective experiences when apart. One of the other interests was to explore how can we use our very ‘live’ practices to create something where this ‘liveness’ exists in other forms. This is where we got curious about what would happen if we mixed different forms and mediums e.g., radio plays, podcasts and choreographic writing.
From this place this new work was born. As a movement artist there were many layers to consider in creating a non-live choreographic and participatory physical experience that wasn’t video or film based, e.g. a balance of instruction, open spaces and the communication of experiential layers.
So, coming out of this discussion on our work and thinking about:
ways artists use unexpected and digital platforms to create new art and experiences
as well as what I can simply say inspires and moves me (so some things that are in some way personal)
I have bought together a list of works, platforms and artists that I would like to share with you. Of course, there is a lot more that speaks into these spaces, but I have gone with what is currently in attention for me. I hope you gain something from spending time with the below.
Bangarra Dance Theatre, ‘Knowledge Ground’
Bangarra Dance Theatre have moved me and been an important source of ongoing awareness development and learning for myself since I was 15 years of age. ‘Knowledge Ground’ is a rich and dense digital platform, (the likes of which I haven’t experienced before), full of culture, history, artistic content, conversation and more. I am grateful they have opened their story in this way. Click here for more info.
Amy Voris,’ ‘perch adaptation’ project.
This project involves an adaption of a work initially created by Voris in a room in a former cotton spinning mill in Manchester. Voris says ‘…perch is a practice, performed regularly by one person, for a place.‘ In this instance Katye Coe performs a ‘perch adaptation’ at home in 2020 (a small admission I am involved in the ‘perch adaptation’ project). I feel the way that this work, and the practices that inform it, are in their core and in this unexpected moment in time, sensitive and responsive, they are a way of being. Click here for more info.
William Forsyth, ‘Choreographic Objects’
I will not pretend otherwise, but I have not seen this work in person, but the online content shares a lot about its aims, how audiences engage with it and what it is speaking to and about. I connect with how William Forsyth speaks about being ‘an artist who works in the medium of choreography’ and that this ‘does not exclude any context for working as an artist in choreography’
I am interested in the playfulness and the intricacies. It is a reminder in this moment in time of how artistic work, and in my instance choreographic ideas, can be expressed and experienced in such a multiplicity of ways. Click here for more info.
So, this is not about a specific work, nor a specific response during the pandemic, but I wanted to mention the work that Dancenorth Australia are doing and how this is working into so many spaces locally, nationally and internationally. How it is going in and having dialogue out at the same time. It worth spending time with what they do. Click here for more info.
Belarus Free Theatre
It is challenging for me to share about work and not share of the work of this company. Since 2012 I have been making and touring work with them around the globe. They create work under extreme oppression and are an incredible example of art and activism in dialogue. This year has been significant for Belarus: people coming forward demanding change from the oppressive regime. During the pandemic, amongst other things, they developed a project #LoveOverVirus that also included the reading of fairytales that Stephen Fry joined in. Click here for more info.
Jo Fong, ‘Ways of Being Together’
This was the last live work I saw before lockdown in 2020. Beautifully it involved a lot of people moving together. But this is not my reason for sharing. What I want to share is the meaning and ongoing importance of work that looks at social and community experience. “Ways of Being Together is a series of workshops, conversations and performances centred around the idea of Belonging. A sense of belonging is intimate and powerful, connected, optimistic, unknown and curious making.” Click here for more info.