Slow To Go Fast — 13.02.2015 (A Post by Laura Doehler).

Antonio’s Open Lab                            slow to go fast                                        13.02.2015

Petra, Antonio and me tied into an inextricably linked conversation ­constantly driving each other’s thoughts and imagination. Sharing the studio with experienced ‘performer makers’ is a treat, and I am glad there were not more people involved because already we hit overflow. It really is an opportunity to talk to less people and it always surprises me how many people still consider value to be a matter of how many people attend … anything really. But I guess that is one of our daily deceptions. (And brings me back to Antonio’s lab last week which was based on camera play, to see and be seen … and it made me think at that time how many people watching something makes other people believe it must be good … and at the time we realised that when you have audiences on stage that watch a performance and others witness the watching as well as the performance … it becomes more important how the audience watches than the performance itself. The less people you anticipate watching the more you can focus on the performance).

Anyway, back to today: … we created endless lists of things in our minds about what to do that challenge you into the only real action of letting them go ­ trusting they are there and will always be… and in continuing those conversation they will come back if they need to. This lab was a lab of time and brought me to moments being infinite, and us to perceive moments as places of multiple direction of choices and options. Mouths were not fast enough to talk, threads never singular … a relentless exploration for both body and mind. It makes me hungry and greedy for more.

I would like to use this writing to simply stream without need to prioritise or to mention who said what. Let’s say it all was ours. I believe Antonio and Petra would happily agree … because it is the meeting, the exchange that creates naming and articulation. It is each other’s thinking that stirs the conversation. It was very hard to leave. It may have taken us half an hour to step from one side of the door through to the other …

And maybe I enter our past conversations here (denying it already started obviously) because I am personally interested to invite experienced improvisers who explore voice work as well as body work or rather who do not separate voice from body, in order to do a talking piece. Moving and talking at the same time. The thing kids and teenagers do. You have them sitting in class and they listen, you ask them to get up and move and they talk. They can’t help it. This lab moved my idea (like other labs in the past) due to conversations that are potent and all circle around performance or elements linked to performance. Those conversation seem infinite and challenge our perceptions ­ in fact express our perceptions and move them on. And how great would it be to share them and offer an audience to perceive this action … of bringing body and mind and people together­ making visible what is personal and together at the same time.

Also playing with the idea of time made me curious how through imagining moments being infinite a spacious mind and body is created. A mind soaring through the universe while at the same time being really strongly grounded in my body… without my mind manipulating movement because although it has a strong sense of body it can rely on it and trust it. What Antonio called ‘an agent’. I am not sure why that happens but for me it does ­ possibly because with every moment bearing all possibilities, there is no wrong but freedom to navigate as presence and change arises. And it is a state of mind that somehow reaches out into all directions therefore is highly aware of what is going on.

Now, after expanding and endeavouring the idea of time I am afraid mine is running out. Daily impatient chores lurk outside this cafe. But before i finish just a little collection, hints or as we called them: unfinished pieces.

  • ­imagine you were born yesterday.
  • if you go to Resolution at the Place you will know that we have to continue making work… that is aware and mature.
  • imagine your presence now is an excerpt from the future
  • or the past.
  • what is the right time?
  • …ing of movement.
  • if you move as fast as you can and allow some movements to escape this rapid speed they will happily expand and breathe and take their time.
  • making choreography is maybe not about finding a structure in time and space but a mind set or both.
  • and training becomes also a matter of focussing your mind.
  • but what becomes of ownership in performance if we set up states of mind and perception?
  • .

Laura Doehler.


A snippet from OPENLAB (06-02-2015) — Session #15 of Season #3 “Camera… Mirror… Performance!”

On Friday 6 of February Laura Glaser, Laura Doehler and Leah Marojević joined Ricardo Correia and myself for this session featuring (in our heads) an array of mirrors, or at least of reflective surfaces, and photo cameras.

The original idea for the session came from the fact that I haven’t been very good at documenting, whether in writing or through other media, the experiences I have had in the studio during the OPENLAB sessions. I haven’t either been able to encourage people to contribute with this kind of documentation. This is because I understand that investing twice in this shared pondering around what is performing and what it does entail is not easy. I am the first one that has almost no time to reflect upon the lab’s sessions outside of the time in the studio.

In my thinking about direct ways of documenting I approached Ricardo Correia, a Portuguese photographer who recently moved to London whom I met when he got involved with anthologyofamess‘ REFINE residency (also at Chisenhale Dance Space).

During this residency Ricardo became an active member of anthologyofamess’ stable (we consider ourselves a stable – we understand this may not mean anything to you but if you want to read more about what we do just click on the link above). For this reason, I suggested to Ricardo to co-facilitate a session with me. I asked him to give suggestions during the session in the way he has already done with anthologyofamess during our residency.

So ,we agreed on the starting point of introducing a camera into a lab that explores questions about performativity and making presence without being simply a documenting device that pretends not to be there. Instead we would have to confront to the very fact that a camera introduced in the session would not only be witnessing but also acting (or performing, if you prefer).

Ricardo suggested the idea of using the camera as a mirror. We agreed and left it there for a few weeks. However, the time to run the session was getting near and we felt we needed to expand a bit on the idea. Through messaging we agreed that he would be not just a photographer but in a way a performer-photographer (or vice versa); we agreed that we would invite other photographers that could be performer-photographers too; and we agreed that the performers could be also photographer-performers that could bring their own cameras. In summary we didn’t want to impose people to be photographers and performers at the same time but to feel free to act as one, the other or both in any way that it would fit their practice/purpose/exploration/work in the studio.

To round up the idea of camera as mirror, we thought that anybody could also bring actual mirrors (as a tool which is historically used by performers, and in fact is still used by many disciplines, being ballet a clear example of this). Again, any of the attendants could bring either/both cameras or/and mirrors.

The video embedded at the top of this video was an attempt of using my camera to film the others at the same time that they could see themselves being recorded as if it was a mirror. I was playing with my new phone which has a feature my old one didn’t have and have occasionally wished it had: a camera lens on the same side of the screen. During the session I realised that this little piece of equipment had then the potential to be both camera and mirror, rendering both a direct reflection as well a recorded reflection of the moment.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it ended being a film of myself, and unknowingly so. I messed up with the setting of the camera somehow and it was the lens on the other side of the phone which was active. In my head, I was creating the opposite experience for the person to whom I was directing the lens of my camera. I thought that they were seeing themselves in the screen, at the same time that they saw the camera was recording.

Even when having a regular camera directed to myself I tried to engage with the task of imagining seeing myself through the camera lens. I mean the idea of using my mind’s eye to see the result of that image. Not as a task to produce a sort of uncomfortable and performatively-speaking unproductive self-consciousness, but, once overcome that possible effect of the mental exercise, to generate a new sense and feed-back into the action of performing… Now, Deborah Hay’s “My Body, the Buddhist” comes to mind.

The video in my phone plays in slow-mo and when I watched yesterday I wrote this:

This video is a snippet of the session “Camera… Mirror… Performance!” …. During that session … the camera was proposed as an eye that sees, but an eye which is also as much actor as it is spectator, both inside and outside of the performing act simultaneously. This camera-eye was used during our session both as witness and as maker (or at least co-maker) of the performing exploration, and it was used as a point of (self-) reflection. In this way, it was an eye that reproduced copies now available for us to look at, but also served as a “mirror” of mental imagery (self-) representation. Like en eye that reflects in its own surface what its retina is also capturing, like an eye that could be a window both to the oneself (through that reflection) and to the other —owner of that eye…


N.B. This description is only my own reflection upon the session. As OPENLAB proposes a shared space for “co-independent” performance practice/work/exploration (co-independent meaning that it is done together, influenced by one another’s presences, but at the same time it is done as a personal and unique exploration), the experiences of others participants may differ from those described here.

I’d like to close up with this self-quote. In a way by quoting this text I repeat themes I have just written throughout this post too… and at the same time it sounds like I touched onto themes I could expand… but in that expansion I could also get lost.

However, I’d love to hear from others if ever these words get read by anyone and they entice them to continue these musing in the form of a dialogue.

I’m waiting to hearing from you. Until then, I will use my mirror.