We walk together, slowly it may take 45 minutes to cross the small room. Our bodies are close, but like in a crowded subway car, we do not communicate with Al Ain. We are listening. Hear breath, moans, and laughter. All of these come from us, as do more obscure layers of words and a song that rise and drown, and possibly resurface later. For long periods, we walk in silence.
This is all very unusual for me. I visit rehearsal as a journalist, and in such cases, I usually act like an audience member, not a participant. But what is being tested, “sitting on the head of a man”, is not right for the audience.
Guests, however, are welcome. And if I attended the Danspace project at St. Mark’s Church on Friday night during the four weeks of “Platform 2020: Speak from the choir” (February 22 – March 21), you have the option to stay outside the closed place where “sitting on the man’s head” continues for four hours. You can only listen without seeing.
Or you can think of the question “What do you carry who carries you?” And if you write your answer – “pain in my knee”, “my daughter” – in an introductory book, “activator artist” will talk to you about it. And if you wish, you and this artist can enter the inner temple and join others who walk very slowly. You can walk with them as long as you want, and you may hear words from your conversation that become part of an impromptu group song. You may sing yourself.
One of the factors in favor of joining: You will definitely walk with it Choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili. For most people, this would be very unusual. Tall, striking and attractive (this is her in the video for Jay-Z “4:44”), Mrs. Okpokwasili is the opposite of normal, a confusing mix of expecting power and weakness.
Her hard-to-class works, such as “Bronx Gothic”, received piles of awards, including a MacArthur Scholarship. They are intense and mysterious, and often loaded with stress tests. And while she says that “sitting on a man’s head” is not a performance, and although it is closer to practicing mindfulness than practicing traditional folk dance, participation in it feels as though it is within one of those actions, with it.
Like most of her projects, she creates a “man sitting” with her husband, designer and director Peter Bourne. “Peter and I already have a very dense collaborative process,” Ms. Okpokwasili said before a recent rehearsal. But her creative process usually includes other artists, too: “I always ask questions and ask performers to answer the text. The work is active collaboration, and it’s something that happens between us.”
It’s a way of making art, according to Ms. Okpokwasili, who has an application outside of art making: “What is the matter to make a space where people understand that they are heard and know that what they offer is necessary?”
And now, she is inviting the audience to this process – “where we are forced to listen to each other and communicate with each other, with the possibility that anything can happen.”
The concept also springs from the creation of a modern piece, during which she and other artists wore together songs, listening and breathing. “The sound is very personal and individual,” but she also incredibly porous the way he appears to break the boundaries of others’ skin. Therefore, this is a practice of being inside you and showing someone else deeply. “
She said: “There was a practice called“ sitting on a man. ”“ When women feel annoyed by a man with authority, they go to his residence and perform developmental performance demanding change, and they don’t leave until they get it. ”
“This is great for me, but I am not a worker in the field of social justice. So I began to think: What if I provide a space not directed to someone outside the circle who is hurting you? What if I provide space to hear each other, free from judgment, space This looks to me like the process I use when working. “
Yes, but why is slow walking? And she said, “We are surrounded by people who regularly do ingenuity.” “Slowing down helps us be together. It is torn from what you usually do and is resistant to accurate perceptions.”
Why four hours? “I am interested in what happens when you stay in one thing for a long time. Sometimes it can be really difficult and painful. But when you skip something, I think it’s a blessing.”
But, really, why four hours? “Because we can no longer do it anymore. St. Mark wants his church again.”
St. Mark, the seat of the Danspace project, which has entered its forty-fifth year, is an active site of worship. The space should also be shared with many other parts of the Platform series, organized by Mrs. Okpokwasili with Danspace CEO, Judy Hussie-Taylor.
Saturdays will be set aside for conversations and other activities between writers and performers involved in platform topics: sound, body, relatives, care, and slowdown. Mrs. Okpokwasili will share an evening with the author of Like-Minded Music Samita Sinha. Choreographer Maryam Jazouly and Nasira Blaza, both from North Africa dancing and songs, will take part in an evening. Large groups of artists sharing their evenings will provide artistic responses to the questions asked by the organizers.
All this represents how platforms that the artist has organized since they first came up with the idea 10 years ago: “It is a way to transform questions that may not be answered into a different kind of performance event., Where art practice can be shared,” said Ms. Hussie-Taylor.
On the platforms, she collected bundles that lasted for a month of specials and discussions, Mrs. Hasi Taylor and art curators such as Reggie Wilson and Ismail Houston gathered together artists who seemed to be looking at similar things. “We use our collective minds to be born,” she said. “From that, people eventually make amazing pieces, but that doesn’t always happen in the context of the platform. The seeds may be. Opens possibilities.”
Ms. Okpokwasili likened the process to “sitting on the head of a man”, which is “not about showing people what we do.” It comes to opening a channel to be in relationship with others. We are not all singing the same song, but if the song is able to contain all these layers of rivalry and contradiction, the things you need and the things that are necessary to preserve the group, it will move to one place where we all share. “
Through previous iterations of “Seating” at the Berlin Biennial 2018 of Contemporary Art and last year in Houston (he heads to Tate Modern in London At the end of March, Ms. Okpokwasili and Mr. Born revised it. A large group of questions to ask guests have disappeared into one. A group of gestures that were developed with guests narrowed to walking and any movement necessary to find comfort in this walk.
“We have been working to keep it free,” said Ms. Okbokwazili. “How do you make the guests understand that they are free to leave? You can stay as long as you want to stay, perhaps a little longer because something unexpected might happen.”
What could it be? Giggle fits, shouting, crying, boredom, cramps, communion. “It’s all that has to happen, and sometimes she knows when to land,” she said. “But then, I have to criticize that, because it is about falling and getting out of it, it’s about making and not making it. If it happens the same way all the time, I’ll be worried.”
The key is to help guests understand the possibilities of bringing something into space. “What does a person do to hear the lyric from his conversation, captured by others?” She asked. “How do you feel to go back to you?”
She said: “I know what it is doing for me to pay this kind of attention, and for this attention to be paid.” “I don’t know what he’s going to do for other people, but I want to make the place available to see me.”