The Infection

The Swedish art magazine Paletten asked me to write something on desire and disaster in English for their Venice Biennale edition. I did – inspired by my present state of being…
spridning

The Infection

It is my twenty-third consecutive day of having the flu.

This ever mutating flu that belongs to everyone and has no boundaries.

I keep saying to the people working in the venues that I am not that sick,

but then again I am really not that well.

Fever on, fever off.

If I have a night of decent sleep

– the kind of sleep that feels like work because it is meant to make me fit –

then the next night keeps me up with burning tonsils.

 

Once or twice in the past when I had a job that I was less eager about,

I tried staying in bed on my first day of illness, and it really helped a lot.

But I tell myself

since I missed the critical moment this time,

the one point where I could have suppressed the revolt of my body,

what is the point in resting anymore?

The infection will take revenge anyways, ride me for weeks and weeks.

 

The adrenaline rush from stepping in front of the audience wipes out my symptoms momentarily.

I perform in a haze, blurred out faces mirroring my motions with their nods.

Afterwards, muscle pains of different types mix with each other into peculiar cramps.

The cramps repeat the patterns of the choreography

even when I am trying to be still in order to be able to repeat it all tomorrow.

 

I hate performing arts when it is like this.

Performing arts means ephemeral and difficult to finance.

Performing arts means extremely unnegotiable deadlines.

Performing arts means collegues that flew in from other countries.

Performing arts means people who either see us perform or do not see us perform.

Performing arts means the purest form of narcissistic bliss

on these evenings where showtime coincides with the triumph of the body.

Performing arts leaves it up to me to know my boundaries when the infection knows none.

Performing arts leaves it up to me to shape my boundaries, make them fit to these conditions.

 

I started dancing because I wanted to be superhuman.

I started dancing because I wanted to make friends with death.

I started dancing because it was never to late to become a dancer.

Should I then pause my dancing for a minor flu?

Should I not rather affirm the infection as a part of the process,

make it integral to the performance, as if it was meant to be there all along?

That is how I always operate

with the other mental and physical states that occur when I am dancing.

I try to stay alert to what is there,

I relish in it and I deeply forget about tomorrow.
But what I love to do when I am well is intolerable to do when I am ill.

The emotional thruth of illness is the wish for time to pass.

I started writing to pass time when time was insufferable.

When I write, there are no witnesses to my condition

and I can always send in the job via email from my bed.

 

On the stage my nose is running for everyone to see,

and I am breaking sweat for nothing.

Afterwards, someone will warn me about myocarditis

as so to remind me that I can say no.

 

Sure, I can say no to performing with a fever.

I can send the collegues home,

hand back the funding

and tell the audience to come another day.

The only thing I cannot say no to is infection,

but I do it anyways.

 

I say no to infection and yes to performance.

I perform because it is the normal thing to do if you are on tour.

I perform because of the specific wound that labor is in our constitutions.

I perform because the body will always be a metaphor for the society that it lives in.

I perform because of my willingness to be deceived when it comes to my own efficiency,

I perform because I am sticky and I attatch to almost everything.

I convince myself that the infection can be scheduled, convinced, reprogrammed,

like a person.

 

I know that I will never be able to control the operations of infection.

It is not a person and and she can not be mastered by pure will.

It would take something else; like a change of global mobility,

like a way to stop all mutations,

like an end to history.

 

I alone do not have that power,

and yet I wish to have power over something.

In my twenty-third consecutive day of struggling,

I continue to negotiate with the flu.

I negotiate for something as commonplace as art.

Please forgive me if it earns me myocarditis.

Just tonight, I promise the infection,

because I really want to finish this cycle

– then never again will I defy the decrees

to rest and sleep,

to drink and eat,

to keep silent and to not meet people.

To keep my eyes closed,

block the world out,

concentrate on only her.

 

I ask her, as one asks a parent:

Is that enough, infection? Can I then be cured?

 

Where Were We, documentation

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This year, I’ve established a project together with Israeli choreographer Uri Turkenich. The project went through different forms. First, we played games with Inana, then we had a Derridian episode at Skogen, after that we danced with the cool kids in Berlin at 3AM and now in October we went physical in Weld. The project deals with intimate conversations as a performative practice. During the coming year we will tour a bit and we would like to tour more (so ask us to come by writing to me!).

Here is a documentation of the performance – a part of me learning to video edit, by the way. Above is an image from the performance (snapped by Marika Troili or Sofie Anderson; unsure) and here is a link to the festival we were part of at Weld. The project was supported by The Swedish Arts Grant Committee, but also by c.off, who made an interview with us here.

Documentation, There Is No Outside-Text

As I have posted about before, me and Uri Turkenich made our first artistic cooperation this spring, with the support of coproducer Skogen (Gothenburg) and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Here is a video documentation of show 3. Slowly learning to edit…

Me and Uri really liked this project, and it seems we are going to continue working on the practices and themes that developed through it in a new show during 2016-2017. More on that later…

IMG_6297-beskuren
Photo: Anna Lamberg, 29/3 2016, Skogen, Gothenburg.

See My Comment Above

I wrote this text for The Black The Box The Theatre – Texting Textures, that was a series of events programmed by Pontus Pettersson at Weld 11-15 mars 2014. The text was part of an ongoing exhibition, originally edited in a font made by Pontus and written in dialogue with texts by Pontus. I repost it here, despite the fact that I can’t really make the ASCII images work very well in this format.

SEE MY COMMENT ABOVE

__( )__
‘– . .  –‘
/ _ \
(/ \)

I’m imagining that this figure could come back and weave the text together also at later occasions.

I READ THIS AS A TITLE, both because it is short and because it is in capital letters.

The strongest organizing pronoun is I.

Example:
I’m thinking of Beautiful Boyz with Coco Rosie.

(Ask me for the kind of feedback that gives you something!)
(Take the threads that interest you!)
(Tell me if you have questions!)

– – – – –    – – – – – –  – – – –
__
_n______I_II_
|”””””””””””””\
|__.——.[]:|-.
you       | _ |-‘
_!________|(_)|
|       ==   o |
\______________|

(The questions of course do not have to have answers, but could have.)

I try to indicate a possible limit between asking a question and giving an answer.

A question can be raised in so many different ways.
– It can be a feeling that there is really an answer but that it cannot immediately be reached.
– It can be a feeling of being provoked, a demand to know if things mean anything at all.
– It can be a feeling that one can share a question with someone else, think of it together.
– It can be a feeling that there is no need for straight answers and that that is ok,
that it’s ok
OK
to rest in a rythm or sensory experience of language

_____________________

A clear line makes it easier to say something about what I question.
_____________________

I’m thinking of what I wrote above.

I’m thinking of Not Gonna Get Us with t.a.T.u.

I’m thinking of pop pop pop goes the world.

– – – – – > ♥< – – – – –

Somewhere a story starts that is less about my own perception of things and more about someone else’s mediated experience of things. Is that what happened here?

Sometimes I lose my grip because the image is so used. That is what happened here.

I need to know what things mean in practice,
Sometimes I wish I didn’t know language.

That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to go.
Maybe you prefer exactly that kind of friction.

|||||///////|||||||//////|||||||//////||||||||||/////////||||||||||///////|||||||

I am thinking of the song Every Step You Take.

The ”you” is traveling through these lines.

Also here, the ”you” seems distant.

Where are you in the process?
Where are you in me?

(I got a fantasy about a perspective change from ”me” to ”you” and the other way around.
This limping exchange that forges us into – US.)
_       _
__( )__( )__
‘–  . . — . .  –‘
/ _ \/ _ \
(/ \)(/ \)

# # # # :: :: ::
# # # # :: :: ::
# # # # :: :: ::
# # # # :: :: ::
# # # # # # #
# # # # # # #
# # # # # # #
# # # # # # #
# # # # # # #
# # # # # # #

I am thinking of tell me sweet little lies with Fleetwood Mac.

So unclear in that song if the lie belongs to ”me” or to ”you”.

maybe i’m just like u

Why is ”i” small here when it’s big everywhere else?

Why is ”u” ”u” here when it’s you everywhere else?

What is the meaning of these pronouns,
Preprogrammed positions of enunciation,
Prepositions?

A.

A lonely word.

Well. Words might seem innocent but aren’t.

I’m thinking, like really thinking, of the significance of the small words.

I’m thinking of Words Don’t Come Easy with F.R. David.

Tell me words,
Tell me sweet little words
Tell me, tell me words

If I could turn the page
In time
Then I’d rearrange
Just a letter
Or two

This is what I think of little words!
I think of Thanks Heaven for Little Words!

A small play of words, like
– Are sheep cheap?
– No, sheeps aren’t cheap, sheeps are
– – – – – > fluffy, girly, sweet < – – – – –

,ww
w WWWWWWW_)
`  WWWWWW’
II  II

I’m thinking
The play with words is extremely successful,
very violent/drastic, and works best in written text.
It’s difficult to read out loud. Silently read,
the text should be limping more rythmically.
Or could this limping be mediated in speech?

^, ,^
‘o o’
=_~_=
/   \ (\
(////_)//

Miaou

A lot of images follow each other in quick succession.
The connective words. The connective tissue.

I like this construction.
Like the cat becomes a virus invading the text and in this sense keeping it together.
Could more cats show up in this way inside the text?
I’m thinking of catastrophes, catalyst, catering…

Example:

Would it be reasonable that the pronouns and the verbs are the most important words –
not necessarily where they are in space,
how many they are
or other organisational and decisive grammatical cat-egories?

_._     _,-‘””`-._
(,-.`._,'(       |\`-/|
`-.-‘ \ )-`( , o o)
`-    \`_`”‘-

I’m thinking of Possibly Maybe by Björk.

_…_
.’ .-. ‘.
(  ( o )  )
`._’-‘_.’
“`

The ”I” seems to be back at the center of the song.
But why does the ”I” become an eye apart from only sounding the same?
Is it supposed to establish a situation and then introduce a surprise in it,
a bit like language sudoku?

Is the speling intentional?
Why is the day feminine???????
Can this sentence be read narratively or not?
Is this a spelling mistake or is it intentional?
Why does the phrase phrase end with a comma,

_________
____________

Some lines are not broken. Others are.
The idea of burning text into furniture seems very consistent with that.
Like a bookmark angel,

==
<^\()/^>
\/  \/
/  \
`”`

I am busy with when it seems intentional and not.

See my comment above. This is the second time this appears.
The repetition makes it more meaningful and significant.
As if there was really something within that, that I wanted to reach.
I’m wondering if the peach is wetting the floor or if the floor is wetting the peach.

You’re so sweet I get a toothache,
make my pitch recognition hurt.
The rhyme is too efficient to read out loud.
Makes me wanna make rythmical exceptions,
Put emphasis on the last syllabe,
Like this.
(As we might remember, there was a trace about truths and lies already earlier on.)

– – – – – > we< – – – – –

I cannot see any collisions in the language.
It’s as if it belongs to one person, one world.

i/u
(e/u?)

☆       ☆
☆      ☆      ☆
☆                   ☆
☆                   ☆
☆               ☆
☆   ☆

I’m not sure that the doubleness is clear,
I would like this doubleness to be clearer, more intentional
This doubleness works for me

I’m thinking of Slow,
with Kylie Minogue

Something happens when this reference to pop culture shows up before I
think of Another One Bites the Dust
The significance is emphasized.
But that also depends of how the very text is organized –
That it encourages you to read it in a special order.
What if if you read it from below?
See my comment below.
The last three lines do something else than the rest of the poem.

NO!

This is not typical for the rest of the material.
Couldn’t one just write the order how it is for real, or almost?
Couldn’t one just write the order how it is for real, or almost?
Couldn’t one just write the order how it is for real, or almost?
Couldn’t one just write the sentences how they are for real, or almost?
Couldn’t one just write the sentences how they are for real, or almost?
Couldn’t one just write the sentences how they are for real, or almost?
This seems to be here more to demonstrate a function then to say something in itself.
This seems to be here more to demonstrate a function then to say something in itself.
This seems to be here more to demonstrate a function then to say something in itself.

My feeling is that the same thing happened many times, whatever happened.

I’m thinking of What’s Love Got to Do with It with Tina Turner.

The loss of the other is reoccuring uncountably.

Something static and glorified falls.

The ”me” ends up with several hearts.
– – – – – > ♥♥♥♥♥< – – – – –
”I” am still a strong pronoun but just one among many.
What better way to end a story?

I am thinking of the fox in Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love.

Whatever comes after such a sentence invites to be read as a rabbit story,

\\
\\_
( _\
/ \__
/ _/`”`
{\  )_
`”””`

and it is important to take care of that somehow.

,^
;  ;
\`.,’/      ; ;
/_  _\`—–‘;
\/` ,,,,,, ;
)//     \))
“”       “”

(Deny it if you don’t want it.)
(Welcome to sit on the carpet of language.)
(Please don’t feed the animals.)

Realizing the Unready

In the last post and the one before that, I’ve done some process reports on an ongoing work with choreographer Uri Turkenich. In the end of March 2016, we did a series of presentations at Skogen in Gothenburg with the support of Konstnärsnämnden, also sharing the space with some other artists. A long and complex conversation about the necessities of sharing spaces and processes led us to that conclusion. In our program folder for these evenings, this is how we explained it:

Uri Turkenich: This text introduces Tova Gerge’s and my thoughts about the curatorial aspects of the three evenings we organize in Skogen in the end of March. We invited three other artists to share these evenings with us and show unready work. We want to explain why we did that.

Tova Gerge: We did it because we will also be unready, and we think unreadiness can be a beautiful condition to be in, for both audience and artists. For audience because unreadiness gives access to a certain kind of vulnerability, and maybe also a power to influence. For artists – well, it’s too lonely a condition to be in a process of artistic production where the end result is our first encounter with others. And for us specifically, to meet the audience at an early stage makes even more sense. Our whole project is about differences and getting to know the other as separate from the own identity. This means for us to explore the vulnerability of being together as we are – audience and performers alike – with all our fragilities.

U: We also enjoy thinking about conditions of production of art, and wanted to try producing under different conditions than what we are used to. Producing art alone is a precarious condition. If we do it together, it can become more sustainable. So we are very happy that the author Khashayar Naderehvandi, the choreographer Svarta fåret and the visual artist Anna Ehrlemark agreed to participate. It’s not so obvious to be willing to expose artistic processes to an audience and present work before it’s ready. It takes a certain kind of courage to do it.

T: I agree, but also it makes total sense to do it. To me, art is about being in dialogue, with friends and strangers. When we invite audience to a traditional, finished stage product, the dialogue sometimes only happens on the level of fantasy. Me and the audience are in the same room during the time of the performance, but we never meet.

U: For me every time I perform for people it is a kind of meeting. I hear how they breathe, I perceive their expressions and reactions. And they see me too. So this dialogue can also happen with the traditional finished stage product.

T: Maybe what I’m trying to say is that when it’s a finished product, we tend to give up on the conversation – including the breathing and the expressions and all that – because we know not much can change anyway. If we don’t have the means to continue working, the opinion of the audience becomes our potential adversary. It’s like when you have a conversation in your head with your lover, and you think it’s pointless to have it for real because you know what they are going to say. We hope that this format of presenting unready work would make it possible to have the real conversation with the audience.

U: Last month, I organized a similar event in Tel Aviv and my mother came there. In this event, I showed a video work about being lost, and this scared her. Maybe she was afraid that I wasn’t doing well. And when we spoke, I understood that for me, being lost can be fun. Maybe more than that – I see a value in getting lost, because it means I took risk in doing something I didn’t already know how to do. And I put myself in a vulnerable position, which means for me that I am more open to others. I couldn’t see it before talking to my mother; I didn’t realize it was in the video before talking with her.

T: I like this story, because some kind of ideology of getting lost is also part of why one would like to present unready work. When we don’t know exactly where we are or where we are going, there is the possibility of allowing ourselves to share the space differently with the audience; not always taking them for a ride but also asking them for directions, being inside a question with them.

U: Yes, we are sort of asking people – Where are we? Either in words, or just by seeing their reactions.

T: Sometimes the mere fact of sharing something can make me realize how much I actually know about my position, even though I might not want to admit it to myself before sharing. It could be that I have a darling that I don’t want to kill, or I have a problem that seems unsolvable before I show it to someone else. While it’s a horror having people commenting on this if in the bitter aftermaths of something, I become grateful if I’m allowed to see it with the help of others before the crisis, fight, publication, premiere, release… So to show things that are not ready can reverse my approach to criticism.

U: So we show something that is not ready yet, but at the same time it needs to be ready in some way. I think there are different phases of unreadiness. I show it when I know there’s something to it, but I don’t know what it is yet. In a way, it’s the point in the process of production when the performance needs the audience to realize itself. I also think that at this point it’s more enjoyable for the audience to see it. I wouldn’t like to show it before that phase, there’s no reason to show it yet.

T: It is also a question of why one would like to show it. To “realize” it as you say – or to just get better tools for working, using a test audience as your motor. As I usually work with audience participatory work, to try things out in practice has been absolutely crucial for me also really early on in my processes. But I would call it testing, not showing. Maybe that’s why it was you – usually doing a stricter separation of the performers vs the audience than me – who from the beginning insisted on the importance to meet the audience mid-process also for this work. Together, we had to reconceptualize what showing to someone then means. I think now what we are doing here in Gothenburg is not testing something; it’s sharing something.

There Is No Outside-Text 2

As I mentionned in the previous post, me and the choreographer Uri Turkenich have spent one week preparing working methods for a common project. Among many other things, we started learning the first verses of Inana’s Descent by heart. Being one of the oldest texts known to mankind (approximately 6000 years old, from Mesopotamian times), it might actually predate writing, as it has the characteristics of a song learnt by heart and passed on from mouth to mouth. Here, I’m sharing one of our first Inana improvisations, where we sort of summoned the goddess:

 

lions2

There Is No Outside-Text 1

During December 2015, Swedish Arts Grant Committee supported one week of method development between me and the choreographer Uri Turkenich.
Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.07.10
Preparing for a production residency at Skogen in March 2015, we researched different ways of creating states of vulnerability in speech and action. Many of the things we did – like meditating, singing songs we didn’t know and learning ancient texts by heart – doesn’t translate so well to the blog format, or are somehow too vulnerable to be shared just like that. We did however invent a sort of game that we were practicing continuously during the week, and that we also transcribed to some degree. The rules were that we could only use the personal pronoun ”you” (not I, she, he, they and the other forms belonging to them). We were also to limit how much we repeat and mirror each other. If we broke a rule, we had to do a small dance, here symbolized by [ACTION]. Here, we share some fragments of the conversations for inspiration and memory:

THE ”ONLY YOU” GAME, FIRST TRY-OUT
T: It’s recording. You’re making a recording too?
U: Yes. I thought it could be nice to have.
T: You said “I”.
U: Ah. Did I?
T: Yes. So basically it’s you. But maybe we do it both. Or?
U: Or me? As you said it it’s me.
T: Yes.
[ACTION]
U: So. Do you think we should choose a subject?
T: So. You thought a subject would be good. Fuck.
[ACTION]
U: Why do you…?
T: Because I mirrored you. I repeated what you said. And sort or reconnected to it instead of just acting.
[ACTION]
T: You told me once that you have a secret.
U: No abstractions.
T: It was in the middle of March and you were sitting under a maple tree.
U: What year?
T: 2006!
U: 2006, 2006, is that mirroring? No, it’s thinking.
T: You’re right.
U: 2006 – what happened in 2006?
T: There were some some massive urban uprisings in Paris?
U: Sounds sad.
T: But I think your secret had nothing to do with that.
U: You think?
[ACTION]
U: What do you think about punishment?
T: Like voluntary or more that someone puts it on you against your will?
U: Voluntary.
T: It can be great!
U: Why?
T: It’s a way to challenge your perception of punishment when it’s not voluntary. And also it’s simply a source of enjoyment and pleasure. Why do you ask the question?
U: It’s a self-reflection on what you’re doing.
T: No abstraction.
U: Well. When you set up the rules about the game maybe you thought it’s a sort of punishment to go and do the action and come back. It’s a self-beating, maybe.

THE ”ONLY YOU” GAME, SECOND TRY-OUT
T: As an ancient person, the first thing you have to do…
U: is to deal with death. To find a solution for it. How to live with it.
T: But already when you’re a baby, do you have a clear idea of death then?
U: That’s unclear. There might be studies that suggests that no.
T: Maybe survival, the urge for survival, is there already in the small new born baby.
U: Yes.
T: Like a biological impulse.
U: Yes. The baby feels hungry. But the baby doesn’t know death.
T: Do you?
U: Expressions of it, yes. Encounters with death, yes.
T: Other people’s encounters.
U: Other people dying. The possibility of death. The possibility that life stops at some point. I know that can happen.
[ACTION]
U: So, at some point you are born and then you discover you can die.
T: No abstraction.
U: When the baby is born, the baby doesn’t know it can die. All babies. They don’t know it yet.
T: They.
[ACTION]
T: The question was really: when do you discover it? When is this passage from not knowing to knowing? Not like a general point, but when did you discover it?
U: It’s unclear. There is no memory of this. Do you remember?
T: Maybe more like rediscovering. No original moment but instead many different occasions. Like when a friend died, when a father had a cancer…
U: But when you were really young?
T: There was a constant fear of death, which is not necessarily to say that death was understood.
U: But you knew about it? I think you knew about it.
T: For sure. A hobby was to look up psalms that would be played during different people’s funerals.
U: Psalms?
T: Psalms… Holy songs.
U: It reminds me, there’s a lot of death on television. So young people probably get to know about it pretty soon.

 THE ”ONLY YOU” GAME, THIRD TRY-OUT
U: Are you alive?
T: Yeah, so far.
U: So far, you see the sky, you cry…
T: The rest of that song is not here anymore. Maybe you could say it’s dead.
U: It is not dead. It’s alive. You could hear it in the radio.
T: There’s no radio now.
U: I can hear it in my mind.
[ACTION]
T: Were you dancing to it?
U: No. But do you think there is something about repetition and rituals?
T: No abstraction.
U: There is something about repeating the same movement that can help to connect to some kind of energy of… I don’t know.
[ACTION]
U: Maybe not.
T: There was this thought while you were speaking that that is actually what the universe is busy with. Like repeating the same patterns over and over in order to come to a specific state. Like the flower that bursts into bloom and then it goes away and comes back… like the universe is beating its drum.
U: Maybe it’s pleasant.
T: For the universe? I hope it is, especially when it can entail suffering for us.
[ACTION]
T: The subject is very heavy. I think you should change it.
U: I’m not sure that we’re… that we’re speaking about a subject.
[ACTION]