During December 2015, Swedish Arts Grant Committee supported one week of method development between me and the choreographer Uri Turkenich.
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.
U: So. Do you think we should choose a subject?
T: So. You thought a subject would be good. Fuck.
U: Why do you…?
T: Because I mirrored you. I repeated what you said. And sort or reconnected to it instead of just acting.
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?
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?
U: What do you think about punishment?
T: Like voluntary or more that someone puts it on you against your will?
T: It can be great!
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.