Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lullaby on the way to Montreal

Hoping the old saying “better late than never” still has currency… there it goes for a presentation try (after one or two throat clearings):
My name is Paula and the first thing that has to be said before anything else is that I can’t wait to meet you all (I feel very lucky, for the 22nd is not far).

As for the presentation issue, I will just sing you a song I know by heart, but which usually brings me somewhere else every time I sing it (it's a bit too long and slow, and I'm sorry for this, but I can't help it). Let’s see what happens today and… and… and:
I am a writer, a researcher, a dramaturge in choreographic performance, and a fiction maker (so I hope). In any case, I am particularly interested in exploring any negotiations taking place between sensation, language, movement, politics, fiction and choreography (which I do not necessarily identify with artistic/dancing practices performed on stage, but rather as a huge pocket of heterogeneous knowledge that can relate to almost any aspect of human and nonhuman life; choreography then, as something that can, of course, be practised by any-one and any-thing with no age limit). Currently involved in some choreo- and video-graphic projects with artists and researchers coming from different backgrounds, I am also a PhD candidate at University Paris-10 (desperately trying to finish a dissertation entitled Vis elastica de la sensation. Chorégraphies contemporaines, within the following research fields: History of Science and Technique, Philosophy, Choreographic Arts). .

All in all, I am suspected (mostly by myself) of fantasizing a bit too much about the word “choreographic” – a word I couple with the word “montage” and with the word “elasticity”, two words that I tend to confound with modes of making place where there seems to be none. These fantasies often start and end up riding horses, pumpkins, oranges or octopuses along the Wild West in America (a place I have never been to), that’s why I am convinced that my mind must resemble a Western, an ocean or a kitchen, instead of a mind, instead of “my mind”.

Anyway, the reason why I am interested in choreographic practices is very clear to me (and definitely linked to some current choreographic practices that seem able to re-invent the not so marvellous history of choreography). The thing is that I am interested in any activity that can be called a fictional practice, by which I mean any practice capable of producing useful fictions; by which I mean any practice that embraces the power (the puissance) of speculation as a power to produce (hi)stories that deviate from cartographies of territories, activities, bodies, disciplines and practices “as they are”, to go into what they “may become” in different arrangements (and here I’m borrowing from Isabelle Stengers’ idea of “practice”). What I mean is that I see choreographic and/or fictional practices as practices that are not about knowing or not knowing but about letting the unknown move into the known; about making the known move, namely move into hesitation. So the reason why I am interested both in fictional practices and in choreographic practices is one and the same: it looks to me that they are both practices that may set up improbable situations; situations where entities that had no place no voice no name may become audible and visible and palpable and force us to think, move, speak, feel, act, interrelate, write, scratch, jump, and touch otherwise – thus making way for a variety of unexpected modes of sociability. In other words, choreographic and/or fictional practices as I sometimes see them around, are not only interdisciplinary, but also “extra-disciplinary” (borrowing from Brian Holmes now). For they open up crossroads not only between recognized and recognizable disciplines, but also between those disciplines and practices that may not have a voice or name in the public discourse. That’s where translation practices must come into play, I guess, as well as modes of figuring the kinds of consequences that such crossing journeys may generate, i. e. the ways in which they can affect people’s living and working conditions.

Choreographic or fictional practices then, may well be(come) close to an art of diplomacy (and thus become close to a politics or an “ecology of practices”, to use Stengers words and notions again). How? Allowing heterogeneous practices and entities to encounter and make place for one another in unsuspected ways; yet keeping the possibility, for each of them, to go on diverging with-in and along any achieved or underway arrangement. When they operate like this, fictional or choreographic (or whatever) practices are practices whose issue is to understand that any specific constellation is always the provisional result of a hesitant, local, artificial negotiation that has to remain hesitant, local, artificial, and negotiable.

Sigh. It goes on, it’s never ending, it goes on, on fictions of humidity now:

I definitely have a soft spot for humidity, for I believe that without humidity allowing for practical and conceptual blending to occur, there would be no thinking, no roller-skating, no affecting, no strolling around, no thinking, no navigation, no stupidity, no learning, no unlearning, no thinking, no strolling around, no skiing, no falling, no feeling, no clumsiness, no thinking, no in-between, no possible translation (no possible conversation). And yet, I have been asking myself if my choreographic, fictional, elastic, octopus, humid, galloping cookery stuff – what I usually call a strategy for myself and whoever wants to have it – couldn’t be misunderstood as yet another set of names for mobility or flexibility, these two notions that have become so problematic in neo-liberal societies. That’s why I insist in exploring the notion of elasticity instead, as a potentiality of variation, as a certain degree of variation that people may need to expand their thoughts, actions, and relationships, but one that also allows them to reduce them, if reduction is what they need at a certain moment – that’s what an elastic is good for: it allows people and things to expand, but also to retract. Taking the risk of confusion between notions, places and motions, I firmly believe that elasticity can be a possibility of escaping subjection to mobilization and flexibility. The difference between flexibility and elasticity would then be that at present flexibility can only mean blind adaptation to compulsive mobility, while elasticity could help us imagining a mode of acting upon situations, instead of just letting them act upon us. When people ask me the reason why I enrol in fictions of that kind, I always answer, with slight variations and depending on the weather and much more (and sometimes much less or in-between):

I guess I only need them to understand that the real is much better than fiction, namely because it is the biggest producer of fiction ever (do you know more banal than this?). Besides, I never meant I was going to change the world riding horses, pumpkins, oranges or octopuses lost in the middle of the Wild West, lost in an overcrowded humid mind.

Till soon!

1 comment:

Erin Manning said...

This is wonderful!