We stand at a juncture in history where we are picking up pieces from the wreckage caused by a pandemic we try to fathom the ‘new normal’ that we must embrace. As we attempt to understand the new, there is an attempt to carry pieces of the past into the future either as memoirs or things essential for survival in the new world. Trace (working title) is an exploration of spaces, sensations and objects that remain after an event is over. It shall delve into an artistic expression of the struggle to find that which is no more, the absurdity of desire to recreate and re-enact (or copy from the past), circumstances which have ceased to exist. Perhaps this goes further into the question of how that-which-remains-of-what-is-no-more help us heal from past wounds.
As a central point for visual/physical development I wish to work on a contemporary Feminist take on certain myths about surviving near complete annihilation of life on earth. This image of a lone woman on raft, collecting things she would like to take with her into the new world shall be the nodal point to develop a physical language, musical score as well as narrative for the piece.
Further, I wish to develop choreography that involves imagery of a body collecting remains from the past to carry into the future. How do we decide what to take with us and what to leave behind? What is this list of essentials based on? Is it based on the same logic as that of The Singapore Sunday Times that conducted a survey last year to determine the jobs that people perceive to be essential? (Artist stopped the list with 71% of non-essentialness.) How do we redefine “essential” and carry forward stories of compassion and resistance from the past? What of the past, whether painful or joyous, is going to help us on the path of healing? How do our bodies carry faith and compassion while we might still be grieving? How does rage manifest itself in the body and how important is it to carry it alongside hope for a more equitable and just future?
Through the 5 days we played with ideas around hope and grief- exploring through movement and music—the texture, shape and identifying qualities to memories/ scenarios around the same. We often relied on personal associations and tried to improvise based on these memories. At other points we improvised based on pre-decided physical scores.
We played extensively with the particular scenario/feeling of being boxed-in and the starting point of feeling isolated and unable to show and receive compassion with others. On exploring the darkest parts of grief we arrived at grief as a machine-like movement quality, devoid of all that makes us human. We explored how that within hopelessness itself one may find the kernel of hope. We composed a short sequence that comprised square, linear movement and sound that slowly cracks under soft humming of a harvest song. Further, we explored daily repetitive activities in the pandemic becoming grotesque and the body itself seeming like a worm/monster performing an illogical sequence of tasks. We dipped into the Greek myth of Pandora’s box and the idea of carrying a box full of hope around. We explored actions of pushing, pulling and carrying the box around like a burden and wearing it on the head that resulted in child-like silly games. We tried to explore qualities of movement/ physical scores around imagining the box as a portal to a world that is healing, listening and sharing experiences.
We ended the week with questions around how to stitch together work based on personal narratives with parts based on Pandora’s box. A deeper exploration into the making of this piece would involve how multiple narratives reside within the meta story of Pandora who holds hope in a box.