We are in a square room, at a rectangular table, but it is not the usual rectangular table. It is a new table on the other side of the old city, and it has a curious construction, in that the table itself, cleverly composed as it is, is actually assembled out of a number of puzzle shapes, which makes me think it was originally made as one table and then divided into these separate puzzle components. In fact, to be honest, the table does not cohere very well as a unit and keeps shifting around whenever people try to set down their coffee, or lean against it to read—as when our curator first wanted to read from THE ACT III MANiFESTO, but then we read from our Act I report instead as a way to begin, or, I suppose, as a way to recognize that we have come to the end. Perhaps to give us a sense of narrative arc.
But, like I said, the table does not cohere all that well, so I have to wonder if it’s a metaphor for our experiment as a whole. Did it—did we—cohere? Or, in the end, do we remain just a bunch of artists cleverly thrown together? I am still not sure. I only wish there were more time to think it over.
As our choreographer speaks, as she gives a final report of her own work, on what she calls the “Archive of Gestures,” a solution begins to emerge in my mind. Hers is a better process, I think, than my own. The language of movement is less hung-up and stuffy than is the medium of words, which can be so, too—you know—overly cautious. This is more or less what I think as we follow her down the long corridor which she has projected in video on the wall. At the end of the corridor is a gallery. And in the corner is a bed. A cot, I guess. A bed in the corner of a gallery. It is where we find her lying down. Lying down, we intuitively understand, is the first gesture in her archive. Then she moves about on the bed restlessly, feet at the headboard, flailing, grasping the sides, as if clinging to a piece of flotsam in the sea. Then she flips over and climbs the wall with her toes. It is the choreography of asylum, incarceration, the claustrophobia of corners and tangled sheets. Standing on bed. Falling on bed. Stuck on bed. Writhing on bed. She makes a portrait of one gesture and then another: Choke, drain, hate, rake, purge, rave, sob, bliss, fly, crave, dig, take, hold, crush, break, pour. A gesture for saying: “I am comfortable being an object in this installation.”
The archive is comprehensive. On her knees now, at the foot of the mattress, her hands describe the inside of an invisible barrel suspended overhead, fingers probing the inside of this void, then the outer drum. She cowers as if it might drip on her. A moment later, her hands, busy, work at the loose ball of knotted something in her palm, yarn maybe, a ball of rubber bands, or, oh I see, she is holding a bird in each hand. One close to her heart, held in, like a deck of cards, the other held out, each offered in turn, as if she is asking us to make an utterly impossible choice.
There is a dance of equivalences, minor adjustments, in the motion of being: it is a reflection of our tendency toward internal symmetry (I guess). One hand, arm, seems to feel the need to resolve the other. One comes forward. One moves back. There is an idea, and then the idea’s correction.