dIsCoNtInUoUsAnImAlItY is a bodily exploration of difference. I research the possibility of dissolving some oppositions that neutralize difference, imprisoning it within dichotomist categories such as human – animal, male – female, death – living, presence – absence, body - mind - etc. related to those, the performance presents open ongoing questions conveyed through a perceptual and choreographic inquiry which aims to provoke an interruption in language and the invention of an-other writing system ontinua animalidad disc
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dIsCoNtInUoUsAnImAlItY was performed in: - Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. Michigan – USA. CAID, February 17th 2012 - Drama Interest Group Performance Night- Wallgreen Center, Ann Arbor, MI – USA. March 31th, 2012. - Encontros de Dança, PUC-SP, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 10th 2012. - Subte Municipal de Montevideo. July 21-22 2012. - Interferencias. Centro de las Artes de San Luis Potosí, México. August 21th. 2012.
Additional information: 1) Video of the piece (45´)1 part 1< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvBH7q8m_ak part 2< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9VTAZvRDyA part 3< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HuIAoR-Z5A 2) Photographic portfolio by Nacho Correa Belino http://www.flickr.com/photos/84698870@N02/sets/72157631010789584/
3) Webpage (under construction) http://lucianaser.wordpress.com/ http://www.facebook.com/events/491464784203723/
4) Mini bio Lucía Naser (Uruguay). Sociologist by the UDELAR (Universidad de la República de Uruguay). MA in Performing arts in PPGAC – UFBA (Programa de Posgraduaçao em Artes Cenicas, Universidad Federal de Bahía). Since 2011 Graduate Student in the Spanish Department of Romance Languages and Languages (UofM, Ann Arbor-MI). While my undergraduate line of research related to politic activism and art in young’s, the title of my MA Dissertation was “Brazilian Art Collectives: a case study on political discourses and subjectivity in collaborative processes (247 p. 2009)”. I write critic reviews of dance and performing arts for La Diaria, Brecha, Revista Dossier, IDanca txt, among others. I dance and produce dance work and investigations since 1998. I worked as interpreter and collaborator with many artists from Uruguay, Brazil and other countries. My last solo piece named “Ensayo en doce cuadros”2 explored intersemiotic translation possibilities between dance and cinema departing from the cinematographic work of Jean Luc Godard. In the present I am developing a bodily-performative exploration which departs from Derrida´s concepts of difference, event, animality (humanity) and repetition as well as the influence of many artists whose work will be differently replied. My thesis will try to explore modes of subalternity and the politics of (the phenomenology of) perception in Latin-American dance, looked through postcolonial and post-structuralist frames. I am part of Interferencias Project3 and work voluntarily for the creation of a Dance course in Universidad de la República (Uruguay) since 2009. contact: email@example.com skype id: lucia.naser
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want detailed technical requirements for this performance. 2 http://solocongodard.blogspot.com/ 3 http://interferencias.info/
dIsCoNtInUoUsAnImAlItY: reflections about the creative process and some provisional results LucĂa Naser
The discussion becomes interesting once, instead of asking whether or not there is a limit that produces discontinuity, one attempts to think what a limit becomes once it is abyssal, once the frontier no longer forms a single, indivisible line but more than one internally divided line; once, as a result, it can no longer be traced, objectified, or counted as single and indivisible. What are the edges of a limit that grows and multiplies by feeding on an abyss? (Derrida The Animal that Therefore I am 31)
This writing piece pertains to an exploration which seeks to develop a bodily investigation deriving in a performance, which presents an in-process choreographic material. It relates to questions addressed during the creative process and to the experience of exploring them through dance creation. Three main issues will be approached; 1) the questions and reflections leading the research, 2) description and comments on the bodily exploration done during this investigating/creative process, 3) thoughts and conclusions taken from the performance presentation and exchange afterwards. In the first place, I would like to think about this distinction between investigation and creative process. While the former may refer to academic research, the latter is alluding to artistic creative processes. However, the exploration carried on for this course, departs from the understanding that â€“ even when different logics and
procedures underlay them – both ventures constitute research, and consequently knowledge production. The philosophical frame for this research is influenced mainly by the conceptualization of “difference” and the “event” offered by Jacques Derrida. A polemical philosopher, identified for belonging to post-structuralism and for proposing deep ontological questions (without their correspondent foreclosing answers), Derrida´s theory provides food for thought and for dance investigation about difference and sexuality. Not being able to develop here the proposals that operated as references during this process, I mention some big traces of his proposal in relation to my creative exploration. One of the elements that make pertinent recurring to Derrida´s thoughts for dance investigations is his defense of reason and his observations about the misunderstandings that have reduced it to a limited and irrationally objective concept. He proposes that the key it is not to renounce to reason but on the contrary, to work from and for a reason “worthy of its name”, taking into consideration that there is nothing such as an objective truth or knowledge, and that the critical discourse comes from the same structures as other constructions and practices of the (human) world (Politics of Friendship 119). This suggests many ways in which dance practice and theory can work together, overcoming the Cartesian legacy that regarded them as exclusive, disabling their convergence by the strict separation of res cogitans and res extensa. Derrida´s conception of the event is also productive to think about dance and performing arts in their unrepeatable nature, whose ephemerality is not a lack or handicap, but a potentiality. The philosopher describes the event as
. . . what comes to pass only once, only one time, a single time, a first and last time, in an always singular, unique, exceptional, irreplaceable, unforeseeable, and incalculable fashion, of what happens or who happens by precisely there were – and this is the end of the horizon, of teleology, the calculable program, foresight, and providence – one no longer sees it coming, no longer horizontally: without prospect of horizon. (Rogues 135) However, it is reason, and not as obscure irrationalism, that gives us a thought of the event. The event is possible only as im-possible and must announce itself as impossible (without pre-warnings). It is un-mostrable and if we can give account of the conditions that produced it, is no longer an event (Rogues 152). This is why the gap between the event and its saying, is also a fruitful space to reflect on the relation between dance, critical discourses and theory. In a conference published after his death4 Derrida states that “this saying of the event is always somewhat problematical because the structure of saying is such that it always comes after the event (…) it always misses the singularity of the event” (qtd. in Wortham 121-122). Focusing in the experience of creative research processes, I kept considering how to enable the exposure to the event, to enter a creative exploration of an unpredictable character. Perhaps it has to do with finding a way of questioning through dance and without clues of the possible answers I would meet throughout the bodily investigation. Improvisation technique is one of the tools I identified as adequate to approach this dance-thinking (or body thinking) about difference. Instantaneous composition – as improvisation is also called - creates a difference in the heart of every instantiation of 4
Derrida, Jacques. A Certain Impossible Possibility of Saying the Event, Critical Inquiry 33. Winter, 2007. Quoted in Wortham (121-122).
the performance, accentuating the unrepeatable condition of every live dancing presentation. One of the purposes of this exploration, whose in-process result was presented in class, consisted in provoking an event, related and at the same time independent from proper and alien reflections about difference(s). I was not interested in re-presenting some pre-conceived choreographic ideas through dance, but in inventing a new language or in producing a mutant enunciation: Viewed from the angle of its existential function – namely, in rupture with signification and denotation – ordinary aesthetic categorizations lose a large part of their relevance. Reference to a “free figuration”, “abstraction” or “conceptualism” hardly matters! What is important is to know if a work leads effectively to a mutant production of enunciation (Guattari 131). Lending Guattari´s idea, a passive decision or exposure had to be made. One that would only arise from the release of control and sovereignty over what I was doing or looking for. Questioning the questioning I want to refer now to some questions that guided me during the exploration, and others that were opened by its development. The issues I decided to think through this process address human difference in three main axes – that are often treated as dichotomic oppositions but which I considered in an alternative manner. They concern the difference(s) between: 1) animal and human, 2) man and woman, and 3) living and death body. In view of the characteristics of these questions, I had to deal fist of all with a reflection about the language I would use to approach them. A dance composed over these questions (that inherently concern my own conceptualization of “self”) must acknowledge two undeniable facts. First, that I would
be using a certain language to formulate and think about these issues (whether dance or natural language, in this case English, a foreign one, which complicates this task). This fact could not be ignored, as any language constitutes an arrange of possibilities, limitations, assumptions and history, that are determinant in their production and reproduction. This requires a self-deconstructive consciousness that would need to increase its alert during the process, as the questions addressed are ontological-political ones. These considerations permeate this graphic (written) and choreo-graphic researches. Secondly, and related to the previous, as they are deeply related to our experience in and of the world, I consider impossible to explore questions about the sexual, the human, the animal and death, without first throwing to myself these interrogations. As part of the project involves thinking of the singularities and possibilities of dance language from some of the premises of the â€œdeconstructiveâ€? and the auto-ethnographic approaches, my own experience as an embodied subject during and between the performance, as well as during the act of writing this processes, has a main role. The heterogeneous methodology employed in the research, works from an amplified self-consciousness that contributes not to identity-fixation but to the dissolving aim of the post-structuralist and deconstructive projects. These seek for the destabilization of identities and for the problematization of all assumptions, unveiling the constructed character of concepts, conventions and identities. Leaving these linguistic considerations for a moment, it is worth to think how the body could be included in a performative research about body ontology, about different bodies and the bodies of difference. Along the exploration I engaged with the task of permanently questioning myself: how my body was being part of the research
and which assumptions were operating during the creative process. Making them explicit could be a strategy to work from a critic perspective over them. In her Manifesto for Dead and Moving Bodies, Susan Leigh Foster describes the way in which the body has been taken for granted as a neutral instrument for â€œhumanâ€? purposes. In view of the inheritance of a rational dualistic Cartesianism, and of an instrumental and disciplinary morality (in its religious and secular versions), it seems urgent to practice a critical thinking about the human bodily experience: We used to pretend the body was uninvolved, that it remained mute and still while the mind thought. We even imagined that thought, once conceived, transferred itself effortlessly onto the page via a body whose natural role as instrument facilitated the pen. Now we know that the caffeine we imbibe mutates into the acid of thought which the body then excretes, thereby etching ideas across the page. Now we know that the body cannot be taken for granted, cannot be taken seriously, cannot be taken. (Choreographing History 3) Focused on the body, dance can be a powerful tool to question these cognitive and behavioral habits. But it also can be the most effective reproducer of the hegemonic tendencies toward body. Concerning these issues, the agency dance performs, depends on the political and philosophical grounds on which each artist, piece, choreography or dancing practice is placed. Not wanting to discuss its ends (believing that heterogeneity of views and perspectives is a healthy symptom of any knowledge-field), I would like to argue in favor of one premise. My point refers to the need of acknowledging the inexistence of any essence, naturalness or transparence of the body and of dance language. Foster presents solid arguments on this: A body, whether sitting writing or standing thinking or walking talking or running screaming, is a bodily writing. Its habits and stances, gestures
and demonstrations, every action of its various regions, areas, and partsall these emerge out of cultural practices, verbal or not, that construct corporeal meaning. Each of the body’s moves, as with all writing, traces the physical fact of movement and also an array of references to conceptual entities and events. Constructed from the endless and repeated encounters with other bodies, each body’s writing maintains a nonnatural relation between its physicality and referentiality. Each body established this relation between physicality and meaning in concert with the physical actions and verbal descriptions of bodies that move alongside it. Not only is this relation between the physical and conceptual nonnatural, it is also impermanent. It mutates, transforms, reinstantiates with each new encounter. (Choreographing History 3) This is in dialogue with the singularity of the event and the event as singularity, as formulated by Derrida recurrently. Both thinkers seem to agree in the need of creating a new language to work a way out of the hegemonic one, through a non foreclosuring way of thinking. The creation of a new language that, however, chooses to keep the name of “dance”, is a gesture present in contemporary production, whether theoretical and aesthetical. Taking account of history and experimenting with alternative temporalizations and relations with dance legacies are also reasonable strategies. Practicing the question: heterogeneous methodologies and the thinking body In Rogues, Derrida observes that the task of philosophy as theory is a task and a duty, a practical ideal which is unconditional. Dance is also a practical ideal whose materiality is quite untranslatable to other languages than the body’s. Dance dialogues with, but at the same time exceeds, theoretical or scientific reason. Creative processes are not about applying a method, replying a program, but about inventing heterogeneous
ways of creative practices and practice creativity, no conditioned by conventional methodologies or the dogmatism contained in styles, “schools”, techniques or dance languages. Not even conditioned by the constrictions that a definitive definition of dance or the author’s intentionality’s would bring. Below I present some of the reflections emerged during the creative process experience. As I intend to continue with this research, in its academic and performing branches and derivations, I think of it as an ongoing venture. In its beginnings I had imagined this performance about sexuality as an urban intervention. I was interested in causing a disruption in people daily perception (or non perception) of the body and its role in social communication and behavior. I considered that questioning the assumptions that gender identities suppose, would be more effective if done in the public space and presented to non expected or advertised passerby. When I started to search for a vocabulary or proposal that could be productive to do that, I begun having difficulty to integrate two goals that seemed to be contradictory: on one hand, calling people’s attention, and on the other, not working through a literal or illustrative bodily discourse about gender and sexuality. Even when I have seen amazing urban intervention that deals well with these aporias, my investigation was not going anywhere from the initial ideas I had imagined... I decided to open myself to new possibilities. Letting my previous plans and desires go, and influenced by the Derridean thoughts of the event and the passive decision, I re-started the exploration, letting the body bring in material and images, sensations and movement qualities related to the topics I (directly or tangentially) wanted to address. Departing from the course texts, discussions and reflections, and from readings done on my own about dance, writing, difference and femininity, I decided to make use
of improvisation technique, not only as methodology for exploration but also as part of the performance. Working between the intuition and the proposition, I was looking to combine a defined script of actions with improvisation. In other terms, using an improvisation structure, as a way of finding a border place between the predicted and the unpredicted. The performance would be possibly repeated, but would have in each of its instantiations, an unrepeatable singularity proper of the event. Beyond the research questions presented before, there are many personal experiences and feelings involved in this investigation. First of all, my own social and bodily experience. This involves all the singularities that configure temporarily my “being” today: being a woman, a dancer, a graduate student, a daughter, sister, friend, lover, being a foreigner in a “first world country”, being a Latin American in USA, being Uruguayan, etc. Even when they are undoubtedly subject and in process of permanent mutation, all these life experiences meet in who I am in the present (or in who I am being). Even when the exploration has not a biographical focus, these are then, part of any proposition or thinking that I can articulate, structure or deconstruct. Secondly (and this numbering does not imply a hierarchy but just an ordering of elements that in reality are inextricably intertwined), in the last months I have been deeply touched and astonished by the discussions about disappeared people during the Uruguayan dictatorship (1973-1985). The families of these disappeared persons are still looking and claiming for justice. The death of these bodies is not documented nor declared, though certainly likely. This opens a gap between reality and recognition that constitutes one provocative focus in the research. I have also been moved by the death of civilians in the multiple wars that are being fought nowadays; wars that are paradoxically held in the name of life, in the name of security and protection of lives. Although this is not recent, the fact of living in USA increased my conscious about it.
Finally the abortion debate, which is also in the center of Uruguayan (and American) society debates, posits more interrogations about life, death, and the discrimination of bodies which are subject of rights from those that are not. A torrent of questions and aporias appear in the face of these conflicts. They directly appeal to a certain erasure and tensions in the delimitation of differences (between life and death but also over the parameters for the identification of bodies which deserve to be protected, killed, attacked, found, buried, etc). These differential policies towards the body, are also in close relation with sexual difference (or differences), as it comes to surface when we think about the biopolitical issues just mentioned, through the categories of man and woman. Another cue for this work is my desire of working with bodily inscriptions and their erasure, as well as with the discontinuity among different â€œidentitiesâ€?. The purpose was to work towards dis-identification of the body, by quoting many identity marks combined in an unusual, improvised structure. Besides, the act of marking inscriptions over the body, dialogues with another theme that conflicts me lately; the ephemerality of dance conceived not as a lack but as a potentiality. The allusion to the written marks as fixed or permanent (in the same way that identity is commonly conceived; as something fixed and lifetime lasting) and their subsequent disappearance, try to call the attention towards identity constructed and instable character. This act of erasure also relates to the ephemerality of dance and the double condition of every appearance, that indicates that, from the moment in which something make itself present, is also implying the possibility of its absence. Presence and visibility are therefore no conceived as symmetric. As the exploration developed, I found two strategies to approach the movement investigation of differences (including sexual, animal-man and dead-living differences).
They are the gaze, and a manipulation of timing, looking for a temporalization that varied from a slower ontology to faster dynamics. The gaze would be a way of bringing to scene the animality I was looking for. Far from imitating a particular animal behavior, I wanted to work through the gaze, a perceptual and communicational ability that human and animals share, exploring it also as a means of communication with the spectators. In a way, this gaze implies an insurmountable difference, because I would be performing and they would be watching the performance. I purposed to increase and make explicit this difference by trying to alternate different gaze-intentions: from an animal gaze, to a neutral or seductive gaze, including also the looking from a static position that symbolically alluded to death body. The combination of gaze and body transformation and dis-identification, is thus a premise that cross the whole performance exploration. Even when the investigation process is still ongoing, it was significantly important to present this non-definite performance structure to a public. From the exchange with the classmates, I highlight the comments in relation to the sound of my body falling on the floor, and the exposure and vulnerability suggested by this action. Even when they were not consciously sought, they arose in the spectatorsÂ´ reading of the event that took place. They are welcomed to the investigation and are actually in deep convergence with some of its main purposes. Brought by others, those semiotic effects make me think that the materiality of body is a site for enunciations that transcend reason, and that are capable of conveying powerful sensations, producing unexpected, unforeseen events (with their correspondently unpredictable and multiple meanings). The continuation of this research is already in course, but the future evolutions that the project and its outcomes may bring in, are still to come.
Works cited Derrida, Jacques. Rogues. Two essays on reason. Trans. Pascale and Naas. California: Stanford UP, 2005. --, The animal that therefore I am. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, Trans. David Wills. Fordham UP. 2008. --, Writing and difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. --, Interview, in R. Kearney, Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 105-27. 1986 Guattari, FĂŠlix. Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Translated by Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995. Leigh Foster, Susan. Choreographing History. Indiana:Indiana UP, 1995. Wortham, Simon Morgan. Derrida: writing events. New York, Continuum International Publishing Group. 2008