Dancers: Emma Barber, Sarah Baumert, Anna Marie Shogren, Olive Bieringa & Otto Ramstad. Photo: Boris Oicherman
“Your body is a performance, a process, a life long performance. Literally you are performers, you perform your body, you shape your body and the entity that is shaping that is you…”
Jaap Van Der Wall, embryologist
We propose to build a dance installation titled a collection of fluid spaces; a radical embryology laboratory. Using touch and movement as a doorway into our embryological history we will create a series of unfolding dances, participatory workshops, performance lectures, and conversations. We will bring the public together with embryologists, science historians and philosophers.
Embryology is a developmental adventure we all undertook to become who we are. The first 8 weeks after our conception is when our body forms its basic structure. In this period we form from an egg and sperm, transforming into a cluster of cells and a series of fluid spaces and become a highly differentiated human being. These fluid spaces and processes underlie our current structure and inform our current state of being.
We often learn about the bones and muscles as a way to understand our body. Our body is the material basis of our mind, and our mind is an emergent property of our body. When we enliven consciousness in other tissue and other processes we transform our presence, experience, and imagination and open to new ways of being, perceiving and imagining. In contrast to embodying our bones and muscles when we embody our embryological experience we embody a process of transformation, morphing fluid space and invisible structures. For example, twenty days after our conception we experience a radical transformation of space. What was our back becomes our outside (we wrap our amniotic sac around our entire fluid structure to become the ocean in which we will grow, its inner membrane forming our nervous system and skin) and what was our front becomes our inside (we draw our yolk sac inside to become our digestive and respiratory organs).
We will use the tools of somatic practice: touch, movement, language and medical texts. This material invites us to move between sensation, imagination, memory, and the virtual in a nonlinear way. We will move between our present body, our early fluid forms and our future unfolding. We will experiment with ways in which transform our ontology and epistemology to cultivate new relationships to space and emergent form. We will embrace what is fluid, intuitive, undecided, and beyond conscious logic. To create dance from our embryological history is an unfolding, unbecoming, an un-growing and an un-forming, a dance for the beginning of time and end of time. When we enact this collectively we can conjure new structures, spaces and futures.
We are currently sharing and developing content for the project a series of workshops. This process is one of somatic storytelling and embodied movement exploration. Workshops have taken place at Independent Dance in London, and the Qigongsenteret in Oslo and online as part of our online summer intensive 2020.
Our team includes Kristina Gjems, Gry Kipperberg, Hanna Filomen Mjåvatn, Carla Bottiglieri, Otto Ramstad and Olive Bieringa.
Our supporters and partners include Kulturrådet, Oslo Kommune, Norsk Teknisk Museum, Oslo, Medicine and Health Library, Norwegian University of of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Minnesota State Arts Board and the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis. We are currently seeking additional project partners. Please get in touch.
Images from our first residency titled The Place of Space took place at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.
““The Place of Space” embryonic, both conceptually and symbolically, it exploited our art gallery habits and sought to build a relationship between art and science… Very subtle, maybe even fragile, these encounters relied upon the privileged duration of the museum. I was not witnessing a series of bodily representations of neurogenesis, but rather the sense of becoming that is involved with the biological processes as the duration unfolded.” Damon Stanek, INREVIEW
“The Place of Space is the Ecstasy of St Therese in reverse. This is a dismantling, an undoing. Heavy blankets in red, yellow ochre and cobalt blue –the triadic. The fabric smells of animals and earth and enshroud both floor and body. They are not neatly draped, flowing off of a white marble form. They are tightly wrapped or loosely disregarded in a slow game of conceal and reveal within the confines of a gallery space. There is an invisible thread between bodies as they expand and contract into one another, becoming abstracted shapes, a continuous reveal into the ambiguous.” Stevie Ada Clark, INREVIEW
Documentation from our recent presentation at the Body-Mind Centering Association Conference 2020 with collaborators Kristina Gjems, Otto Ramstad, and Hanna Filomen Mjåvatn.