Raising disagreement / Å heve uenighet

Dans. Et sted, 2014

The discussion

The festival had an academic/exploratory part. This manifested itself as a series of discussions that I curated.

My aim was to facilitate a concept specifically focusing on discussion as a form of communication, rather than a seminar or a workshop setting. I wanted to give the possibility to nurture non-hierarchical, impulsive and deep conversation between different artists and disciplines, with no other tools than our own experience, reflections and voices.

I invited Lucy Cash (UK), filmmaker and artist, Sabine Popp (N), visual artist, and Fredrik Longva (N), theatre director, in order to achieve an interdisciplinary base for the discussions.

My goal was to move and stretch ideas about working with site, keeping it wide and complex. Searching for questions and new thoughts rather than conclusions.

Fragmented impressions from the discussions

Us. Our expertise.

Raising disagreement.

Big thoughts.

Sparking thoughts for ways of practising and manoeuvring as an artist that are intricate, toilsome, unfinished, unclear and radical.

Intricate, toilsome, unfinished, unclear and radical because the easy, finished, clear and conventional ideas and ways are not always useful in order to develop and further art practise.

How do we use language, how do we talk about site, about working with site?

How does my presence in, and knowledge of the history/herstory of working with site affect my practise and how I describe my work?

Intervention, land art, public art, site-sensitive, site–specific, site-opportunistic?

The degree of site–specificity in the work.

Making large and new ideas audible.

Nonlinear, non-narrative art.

Clearly different and individual stands and projects.

And finally, YES to difficult questions, and how well do we treat the art itself?



Festivalen hadde også en faglig/utforskende del, den bestod av en serie diskusjoner som jeg kuraterte.

Jeg ønsket å legge til rette for et konsept som fokuserte spesifikt på diskusjon som kommunikasjonsform, heller enn en seminar, eller en workshop setting. Jeg ville gi muligheten til å pleie ikke-hierarkisk, impulsiv og dyp samtale mellom forskjellige kunstnere og disipliner, uten andre verktøy enn våre egne erfaringer, refleksjoner og stemmer.

Jeg inviterte Lucy Cash (UK), filmskaper og kunstner, Sabine Popp (N), billedkunstner, og Fredrik Longva (N), teaterregissør for å oppnå en tverrfaglig base for diskusjonene.

Målsetningen min var å flytte og strekke ideer om det å arbeide med sted, og holde samtalen vid og kompleks. Å lete etter spørsmål og nye tanker istedenfor konklusjoner.

Fragmenterte inntrykk fra opplevelsen

Oss. Vår kompetanse.

Å heve uenighet.

Store tanker.

Å gi liv til tanker om måter å praktisere og manøvrere som kunstner som er intrikate, møysommelige, uferdige, uklare og radikale.

Intrikate, møysommelige, uferdige, uklare og radikale fordi de lette, ferdige, klare og konvensjonelle ideene og måtene ikke alltid er så nyttig for å kunne utvikle og ta kunstpraksis videre.

Hvordan bruker vi språk, hvordan snakker vi om sted, om å jobbe med sted?

Hvordan påvirkes min praksis, og hvordan jeg beskriver arbeidet mitt av min tilstedeværelse i, og kunnskap om historien til det å jobbe med sted?

Intervensjon, land art, offentlig kunst, stedssensitiv, stedsspesifikk, stedsopportunistisk?

Graden av stedsspesifisitet.

Å gjøre store og nye ideer hørbare.

Ikke lineær, ikke narrativ kunst.

Helt tydelig forskjellige og individuelle ståsteder og prosjekter.

Og til slutt, JA til vanskelige spørsmål, og hvor bra behandler vi egentlig selve kunsten?


Av Mai Veronica Lykke Robles Thorseth, 
skrevet i forbindelse med Dans. Et sted (2014), en mønstring for stedsspesifikk dansekunst arrangert av Bergen Dansesenter, i samarbeid med kunsthuset Wrap.

That site just spoke to me

Dans. Et sted
– mønstring av stedsspesifikk dansekunst 29. april 2013/Bergen,
arrangert av Bergen Dansesenter og Wrap.
I forbindelse med den faglige diskusjonen har flere av de involverte bidratt med tekster om stedsspesifikt arbeid. Dette er en av dem.


Thoughts on site – specificity

Why sites and places?
Because I want to take part, inhabit our society. Finding a landscape, location or site that feels right for that moment and time – that corresponds with my life and task.

I think the value of giving moments that strive for presence and communication with a physical language is underestimated. These moments awake new sensory reactions, and new relations to – and knowledge about our environment. Our senses greatly engage our mind; like when we see movement, there is one area of the brain that process this specifically. Our senses are part of the education we perceive daily just by being alive.

I would most definitely argue that site-specific artwork has as complex and multiple representation possibilities as non site-specific artwork. The continuation of the tradition will broaden and develop these, and its explorative potential. Benefitting artists, perceivers and the environments we live in.
A variety of practises that delve deep within personal interests and favourite explorative frames create good dance ecology. One of these frames is working with sites.

Sites, places, power and seeing as questions
1. Are there places you do not dear inhabiting, because of experience, morals, ethics or prejudices?

2. Is there somewhere you go because you have nowhere else to go?

3. Are sites hierarchical, do they have expectations, and do they exclude knowledge?

4. Do surfaces have strong visual power and capital?

5. Do public places willingly and unwillingly force visual pollution on innocent people? If so, what is visual pollution to you?

6. Are we free to choose our visual impressions, for our selves, children and friends?

7. How fast do I see something, remember something I’ve seen?

8. What is my city shouting about today? Is it quiet? Ridiculous? Ready? Lazy?

9. What happens when we really watch? When we watch something unexpected?

10. How is my breathing and concentration when I watch something someone has used many hours to make or prepare?

11. What happens when I watch a certain dynamic in something or someone that I am not used to? Do I laugh, or does it remind me of something?

12. How do I notice difference? Do I like it?

13. Does the unusual open and nourish something in my brain through my perception?

14. Are my senses awake?

Some people who care for and nurture this practise
O ”You are talking about boxes aren’t you, to be put in a box straight away. I hate the box thing”
(Conversation with colleague)

O In A Recent History of site-specificity and site-response (sitespecificart.org.uk) Gillian McIver explains intentions behind practises such as site–responsive art and site-specific art. The practices emerged from artists with varied agendas, and developed out of practises within installation art, land art, the idea of “public art”, and the wish (again for a variety of reasons) to move out of the formal art-space. One example she gives is how the practice developed in the late 80s with punk/squatter/DIY art group ARC. She also discuss how the artists chose different frames for continuing exploration, some working outside the institutions as part of an underground scene closely linked to a political agenda, others emerging back into the institutions, often as examples of underground art, and some continuing to develop their practise related to site as a specific art form.

O Independent Dance (UK) do talks they call Crossing Borders. The talks are available on their website. In one talk, performer and researcher Gill Clarke discuss aspects of opening up, and the value of uncertainty. She reflects on “expanding the frame” in dance, and credits the dance-field for having shared and used possibilities of collaborations and exploration by for instance using and exploring different sites. She then suggests a different kind of expanding, an expanding from the centre, from movement. She talks about the value of movement as the ground for research, how movement itself connects us to the environment in so many ways.

2 sites as memories
My two feet introduced you, the knowledge of you informed reactions in my body, my balance, my spring, my sense of measurement, so comfortable to know you, your stones, where your big puddles emerge on a rainy day, how many kids can walk side by side on you, how steep you are with a heavy schoolbag, how easy you are to climb on bag-free days. I could call you my teacher of ground, you – a path in that wood.

The council has placed the bench there. Bless them. So there you are, in a summer shirt and with your favourite situation in your hands, a book filled with language and knowledge. Your body on that bench reminds me of the importance of participation whilst creating a comfortable space for peace and distance.

By thud! moving endangered spaces aka Mai Veronica Lykke Robles Thorseth

Handling://Sted/(s)produksjon – Walking://Site/(-)Production

Dans. Et sted
– mønstring av stedsspesifikk dansekunst 29. april 2013/Bergen,
arrangert av Bergen Dansesenter og Wrap.
I forbindelse med den faglige diskusjonen har flere av de involverte bidratt med tekster om stedsspesifikt arbeid. Dette er en av dem.

(scroll down for english version)

Nå er det noen uker siden jeg kom tilbake fra et arbeidsopphold i en nedlagt fabrikk i Stoke-on-Trent i England, i forbindelse med et kunstnerisk utviklingsprosjekt (Topographies of the Obsolete) som innvolverer en del ansatte og studenter fra bl.a. Kunst- og Designhøgskolen i Bergen (KhiB er også initiativtager til prosjektet). Det er bygningene som er igjen, og fortellingene om dem. Produksjonen av tradisjonsrik keramikk – og med det arbeiderne – forsvant i 2007. Den ble lagt til Asia.
Outsourcingen etterlot her bare én av mange av Europa’s tømte fabrikklokaler. De står igjen som samtidens ruiner, akkurat som Odda’s smelteverk, beskrevet og reflektert over i Marit Eikemo’s bok av samme tittel.
Hva er igjen?
En fysisk bygningsmasse som danner en liten by i byen, med gater og smau, utallige innganger til og utganger fra tidligere produksjonshaller, lagerrom, kontorer, presentasjonsrom, en egen restaurant for besøkende (hvor hadde egentlig arbeiderne lunsj?) og lokaler for fabrikkutsalg. Det meste er overtatt av duer – døde og levende – som finner vei gjennom et økende antall hull i tak og knuste vinduer, og dekker alt til med et lag av ekskrementer, der de forblir uforstyrret. Store deler er stengt av med skilt som sier Asbestos – Danger. Rom som for ikke så lenge siden hadde vært befolket av flere hundre mennesker i arbeid var av helsemessige årsaker ikke tilgjengelige for oss, en hel bunch av kunstnere som snuste rundt, fotograferte, filmet og undersøkte og etter hvert gikk i gang med en eller annen form for respons til det vi umiddelbart opplevde, med hjelp av det som fantes av etterlatenskaper.
Registrering. Omorganisering. Gester av omsorg for et forsømt vesen. Arkitekturen som en syk kropp. Og dens (manglende) innhold som ”a large void”.

… the world which is revealed to us by our senses
… access to things as they really are
… knowledge by approximation

Disse tekstfragmenter er hentet fra Maurice Merleau-Ponty, den franske filosofen som med sin bok The Phenomenology of Perception fra 1945 påvirket – etter at oversettelsen til engelsk var kommet ut i 1962 – den vestlige kunstverdenens diskusjoner og events på 60-tallet. Minimalisme ble et begrep assosiert med en arena, hvor en umiddelbar opplevelse av rom, materiale, lyd, og tid i enkle dagligdagse handlinger og bevegelser, kom i fokus blant billedkunstnere, komponister og dansere. Elementene var det de var, her og nå, uten å henvise til noe annet, uten å henvise til en ”annen” virkelighet som ble levd utenfor gallerirommet eller teatret. Virkeligheten og the real space var her, in real time. Det ble ikke lenger opprettholdt verken skarpe avgrensninger mellom ulike sjangere eller mellom kunsten på den ene siden og publikum på den andre av en – mer eller mindre – usynlig linje. Betrakteren ble delaktig i skapelsen av et verk ved en bevisstgjøring av sin egen kropp i rommet, og i forhold til andre kropper og objekter tilstede. Fra å betrakte kunstobjektet utenifra gikk man over til å være omgitt av det.
På vei gjennom fabrikklokalene i England tenkte jeg på den legendariske filmen Rosas Danst Rosas fra 1997 (Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s produksjon i en tidligere teknisk skole, hvor danserne beveger seg flytende, møtende og gjentagende i sine bevegelser, fra rom til rom), da jeg fant meg selv konstant møtende med og kryssende andre på sin hvileløse vandring. Kropper i uavbrutt flyt fra et sted til et annet. ”Space commands bodies, prescribing or proscribing gestures, routes and distances to be covered”, som Henri Lefebvre sier det i The Production of Space (1991). Men like mye som rommet bestemte over kroppene, var det dem som tegnet, skrev og (gjen)skapte rommet med sine bevegelser og handlinger.
Hvordan så det ut, da det ikke var kunstnere men arbeidere som gikk og ”tegnet” fabrikken, var fabrikken? Letingen etter billedmateriale som kunne vise arbeidere som går langs disse fabrikkgatene, da de skulle begynne på eller var ferdig med sitt skift, skulle frakte noe fra et bygg til et annet, forble uten resultat så langt. Hvorfor skulle slikt dokumenteres? Bevegelsene jeg var på jakt etter var ikke del av vareproduksjonen, produksjonen som kunne selges. Dokumentarfilmenes kameralenser ble rettet mot hender og kropper i arbeid, men ikke mot kroppen som måler avstand med skritt. Som kjenner nærheten av murvegger, luftdrag, fuktighet, skift av lys og skygge mens den beveger seg inne i lokalene, opp og ned trapper, rundt hjørner, langs korridorer, ut av en bygning, inn i en annen. Nedslitte gulvbelegg hvor linjer ble synlig som tok av til høyre eller venstre i trappoppgangen på vei til dame- eller herretoilettene var det nærmeste man kunne komme føttene som var gått der. Historiens kropper forble fraværende. Jeg ble desto mer kastet tilbake på meg selv, min kropp, i dette rommet.
The human body lies prone, or it is upright. Upright it has top and bottom, front and back, right and left. How are these bodily postures, divisions, and values extrapolated onto circumambient space? (Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place – the perspective of experience, 1977)
Oppgaven var blitt min; å produsere stedet på nytt ved å gå. Hva er annerledes med mine bevegelser sammenliknet med (min idé om) arbeidernes? Mangler den målrettethet? Er den påvirket av endrete vilkår (viten om helsefarlig forurensning, mangel av maskinstøy, økt fuktighet, mer ustabil arkitektur)? Blir min vandring til en ”stalker’s” i en av Andrej Tarkovsky’s soner?

Space. Place. Site. rom. plass. sted. passasje. avstand. mellomrom. vidde. strekning. areal. lokale – noen av ordene foreslått av Kunnskapsforlagets blå ordbok. Også tidsrom og periode er ført opp som en mulig oversettelse av space.
Tid og sted hører sammen. Og sammenstillingen generer det performative (eller var det omvendt?). Tidsaspektet er med i lesningen av et sted, i det å ”perform a place”, ved å fylle det med en handling. Hvor rom (space) forblir ennå abstrakt og ubegrenset har sted (place) blitt definert som et tydelig sosialt rom og/eller ved at man har tilbrakt en stund der. Man har blitt kjent – med stedets fysiske vilkår eller dets historie, kultur, maktrelasjoner, dets funksjon. Kunstneren Jeff Kelley sier: «One might say that while a site represents the constituent physical properties of a place – its mass, light, duration, location, and material processes – a place represents the practical, vernacular, psychological, social, cultural, ceremonial, ethnic, economic, political, and historical dimensions of a site. Sites are like frameworks. Places are what fill them out and make them work.” (fra et intervju med Suzanne Lacy, Mapping the Terrain, 1995). Den ene kategorien kan betraktes som sted med sine fysiske og kroppslig erfarbare vilkår, den andre som sted som konsept, som noe man nærmer seg på et reflekterende plan – som muligens er det samme som Robert Morris’ skilnad mellom the real space og the ideal space.
Yi-Fu Tuan forklarer forskjellen utfra bevegelse og pause – hvor space er åpen og ubegrenset og erfarbar via distanser, er place punktene som danner et stoppested på linjer som visualiserer distanse i space. Yi-Fu Tuan er geograf. Spørsmålet er om de fleste av arbeidene som har blitt laget under betegnelsen stedspesifikt/ site-specific siden 60-tallet holder seg til en så entydig definisjon (distinksjon mellom space og place). Men det er interessant å se på arbeider utifra disse to begrepene, for å se noe annet (mer?) i dem enn man ellers ville gjort.
Genius loci er betegnelsen på det spesielle ved et bestemt sted, stedets ånd (og det kan være en veldig subjektiv oppfatning). Ofte danner det utgangspunktet for en kunstners respons av et eller annet slag.
I det urbane rom kommer man neppe utenom det sosiale aspektet som er utgangspunkt for Jeff Kelley’s place. Her er det igjen foreslått en oppdeling i to kategorier: passasjer og tilholdssteder. Antropologen Marc Augé har preget begrepet Non-Place som betegnelse på et transitt-sted. Flyplasser, shopping-sentre, underganger, metrostasjoner. Steder uten identitet. I den forstand, at det ikke finnes en kulturell identitet som har vokst og utfoldet seg over lang tid. Allikevel er slike steder preget av en bestemt karakteristikk – og det er det flytende og transformative. Hvis vi følger tankegangen at steds-identitet påvirker individets identitet – fører det til et samfunn, hvis individer i økende grad har ingen (entydig definert) identitet? Eller er det identitet i konstant forandring? Identitet og sted oppfattes også av sosiologen Michel de Certeau heller som en prosess enn en tilstand. Også han skriver (som Lefebvre) om denne prosessen som en form for produksjon, altså en aktiv skapelse av de vilkår vi lever under – i motsetning til å bare bli påvirket av omgivelser.

Hvordan opplever det urbane individet sitt forhold til sted i det daglige?
The spectator’s gaze is subject to a deflection or reversal, where, in this passing over, by or through places ’the individual feels himself to be a spectator without paying much attention to the spectacle [of the place itself]. As if the position of spectator were the essence of the spectacle, as if basically the spectator in the position of a spectator were his own spectacle’ (Marc Augé, sitert i site-specific art – performance, place and documentation, Nick Kaye, 2000).
Jeg kan kjenne meg igjen i følelsen av å være skuespiller i mitt eget narrativ. At jeg kan se meg selv utenifra gå langs gater i en by. Helt til jeg velger å forholde meg mer konkret til et bestemt sted. Går i dialog med det. Innvolverer meg på en eller annen måte. Skaper det på nytt. Eller observerer andre i å skape det på nytt. Ved at de fyller stedet med en (uforventet) handling. En fortelling. Et spektakkel. Der det oppstår en sprekk i flyten av min tid. En pause. Et sted.
… reason must acknowledge that its world is ( ) unfinished (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 1991
Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, 1995
Marit Eikemo, Samtidens Ruinar, 2008
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, 1962
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984
Nick Kaye, site-specific art: performance, place and documentation, 2000
Robert Morris, The Present Tense of Space, 1978
Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place – the perspective of experience, 1977

Av Sabine Popp



It’s a couple of weeks ago now, since I returned from a residency in an abandoned factory in Stoke-on-Trent in England. It was part of an ongoing artistic research project (Topographies of the Obsolete) which involves staff and students from several art schools, and which is initiated by the Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway.
What is left behind after almost 250 years of production are the buildings, and the stories about them. It was a kind of Sillicon Valley of its time. The production of culturally significant ceramics – and with it the workers – disappeared in 2007, after having been moved to Asia.
The outsourcing process left just one of many European empty industrial sites behind. They are left as contemporary ruins, surroundig the people still living there.

The factory site consists of physical architecture which creates a small town in the core of the city (which makes the significance of abandonment even more poignant as if these sites were situated at the outskirts), with streets and lanes, innumerable entries to and exits from former productionhalls, storages, offices, showrooms, a restaurant for visitors (where had the workers actually lunch?) and a factory outlet. Most spaces are occupied by pigeons now – living and dead – which make their way through a growing number of holes in the roof and broken windows. They cover everything with a layer of excrements, where they stay undisturbed. Many areas are closed off with signs saying Asbestos – Danger. These rooms had been populated not such a long time ago by several hundred people at work, and are now unaccessible to us, a bunch of artists, sniffing around, taking photographs, making sound recordings, filming and scrutinizing, and who after a while started to act in one or another way, in response to our immediate experience. We used what we found. Registering. Re-organising. Gestures of caress for a neglected being. Architecture as a sick body. And playground. And its (missing) content just a large void.

… the world which is revealed to us by our senses
… access to things as they really are
… knowledge by approximation

These text fragments are borrowed from Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the french philosopher who with his book The Phenomenology of Perception (1945) influenced the western art scene’s discussions and events of the 60ies. Minimalism became a term associated with an arena, where immediate experience of space, matter, sound, and time in ordinary daily actions and movements, came into focus among visual artists, composers and dancers. Elements were just what they were, here and now, without pointing towards something else, without representing an other reality, a life outside gallery space or theater. Nothing was ment symbolically. Reality and real space was here, in real time. One didn’t maintain sharp borderlines anylonger between different genres, or between artists on one side and audience on the other of a – more or less – invisible line. The beholder started to take part in the creation of art by becoming-conscious of her own body in space, and in relation to other bodies and objects present. From looking at an art object from the outside one’s position changed to being surrounded by it.

But back to my own experience and observations in Stoke.
On my walk across the factory site images from the legendary movie Rosas Dans Rosas from 1997 came to my mind. It is a production/choreography by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker in an abandoned technical school. Dancers move fluently from room to room, meeting eachother in their repetitive movements. In much the same way I found myself constantly in encounter with collegues and crossing others’ way in an restless wandering around. Bodies in continual flow from one space to the other. Space commands bodies, prescribing or proscribing gestures, routes and distances to be covered, as Henri Levebvre writes in The Production of Space (1991). But as much as the space commanded the bodies, these in turn were active in drawing, writing and (re)creating the space, with their movements and actions.

What had it looked like, when not artists but workers walked around and ”drew” the factory, were the factory? The search for images showing workers walking along factory streets, on their way to or from their shift, moving something from one to another building, didn’t give any result. Why documenting this ordinaryness? These movements were not part of production itself. In found documentaries the camera always shows hands and bodies at work, not the body measuring distances by steps. Bodies which sense the closeness of walls, a breeze, humidity, slight change of light, while moving on the premises, up and down stairs, around corners, leaving one building, entering the next. Worn-out floor covering, where lines were visible, taking off to the right or to the left on the landing of the stairway, where the toiletts were, was the closest one could come the feet once moving there. History’s bodies stayed absent. As a consequence I found myself thrown back on my own body, in this room. Here and now.

The human body lies prone, or it is upright. Upright it has top and bottom, front and back, right and left. How are these bodily postures, divisions, and values extrapolated onto circumambient space? (Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place – the perspective of experience, 1977)

The task had become mine to produce the space anew by walking.
What’s the difference between my movement and a worker’s? Do I lack the persistence of moving towards a specific goal? Is it influenced by changed conditions (knowledge about condamination as a danger for health, lack of machine-noise, increased moisture, flapping pigeons, unstable architecture)? Does my walking become a ”stalker’s” in one of Tarkovsky’s zones? Seemingly irrational, following its own logic.

Space. Place. Site.
The norwegian dictionary includes a variety of possible translations – some of them relate to time. Time and space are connected. Both together generate the performative (or is it the other way round?). The timeaspect is part of reading a place, in performing a place, by filling it with action. Space is unfolding in time.
A differenciation of meaning, peculiar for each term, deapens the understanding of what we actually relate to.
Meanwhile space remains more abstract and unlimited, has place be defined as a specific social location and/or a familiarized space by spending regardible time there (socializing it by one’s presence). One has become familiar – with the site’s physical conditions or its history, culture, power structures, its function. The artist Jeff Kelly states: One might say that while a site represents the constituent physical properties of a place – its mass, light, duration, location, and material processes – a place represents the practical, vernacular, psychological, social, cultural, ceremonial, ethnic, economic, political, and historical dimensions of a site. Sites are like frameworks. Places are what fill them out and make them work. (from an interview with Suzanne Lacy, Mapping the Terrain, 1995). The one category might be regarded as site with its physical and bodily perceptible conditions, meanwhile the other one can be considered as defined by conceptual approach, something that happens on a reflective level – this is comparabel with Robert Morris’ distinction between the real and the ideal space.
Geographer and philosopher Yi-Fu Tuan explanes the distinction between space and place by talking about movement and pause – meanwhile space is open and unlimited and to be experienced as distance, is place the fixed point which creates a site where to stop, situated on a line which visualizes distance in space.

In an urban environment it is difficult to ignore the social aspect, which is the core of Jeff Kelley’s place. Here again we can make a differenciation into two further categories: passages and whereabouts (places of transition and of staying). The Anthropologist Marc Augé has coined the term Non-Place as description of a transit-site. Airports, shopping centres, underpasses, subway stations. Places without identity. In the sense that there is assumed not to exist any cultural identity which has been growing and unfolding over a long period of time. Nevertheless are such places characterised by something specific – which is the fluent and transformative. If we follow the idea that identity of site has an impact on individual identity – does it mean that such characterisation of places today leads to a society whose individuals to an ever greater degree don’t have any (clearly defined) identity? Or is just an identity in constant change? The sociologist Michel de Certeau understands identity and place rather as a process than a condition. Like Lefebvre he writes about this process as a kind of perpetual construction, i.e. an activ creation of living conditions – as opposed to the notion of purely being under the influence of one’s surroundings. How does the urban individual experience his or her relation to place in everyday life? (What impact has the daily presence of industrial ruins? Or what are we doing with them?)

The spectator’s gaze is subject to a deflection or reversal, where, in this passing over, by or through places ’the individual feels himself to be a spectator without paying much attention to the spectacle [of the place itself]. As if the position of spectator were the essence of the spectacle, as if basically the spectator in the position of a spectator were his own spectacle’ (Marc Augé, sitert i site-specific art – performance, place and documentation, Nick Kaye, 2000)

I read this in recognition of myself being an actress in my own narrative. I observe myself walking along streets in the city. Just until the moment when focus shifts. When I choose to relate more directly to a specific place. Start a dialogue with it. Engage with it. Create it anew by doing so.
Or I might observe others in (re-)creating a place. By filling it with some (unexpected) action. With a story. A spectacle. In this moment a gap opens in the flow of my personal perception of time. A gap which becomes a pause. A place.

… reason must acknowledge that its world is ( ) unfinished
(Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 1991
Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, 1995
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, 1962
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984
Nick Kaye, site-specific art: performance, place and documentation, 2000
Robert Morris, The Present Tense of Space, 1978
Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place – the perspective of experience, 1977

By Sabine Popp

Endangered spaces

Av Mai Veronica Lykke Robles Thorseth Alias: The Underberg Herbgirl Dancegarden

Silence. I was standing in the lift in the anthroposophical headquarters in London. I had been to the library to get a book on Kandinsky. An old lady came into the lift and asked me where I was from. I answered I was half Peruvian and half Norwegian. She looked at me with a very sympathetic look, and then she said: «Poor you. So hot, and so cold”. London, England 1994. Breath.

My grandfather lives in a small village on an island, a bit further north than Bergen, in Norway. When he was a young man him and his friends used to squat old boat houses and barns for the night, to arrange social dance events. They were not allowed to dance, as it was looked upon as un-Christian and sinful. Therefore they had to break in and have their fun in secret, illegally. Apparently often the buildings were not safe. It did happen that they danced themselves through the floor. Skredestranda, Norway 1941. Stillness.

In explaining his view on his class on love, sociologist Sun Chung-hsing says: ” But perhaps what is crucial to love, which decides life’s happiness or otherwise, is not rebellion or compromise, but how to maintain a love of natural emotion while living peaceably and prospering in the mortal world. Love is not just sentimentality; more importantly, it is an exercise in «searching for one’s true self.» Taiwan 1997. Stop.

Last winter I went skiing with my son, we realized that he needed longer skiing sticks. As we talked about getting new ones, Leaf, my son, looked at me with quite a serious and trusting look and said; I am actually in love with these; I would like to keep them, even if I get new ones. Bergen, Norway 2004. Breath.

I was tidying up in our attic when I found several boxes with books from around 1940. One of our neighbours whom had just moved had left the old books behind. This man was in his late thirties, he apparently travelled a lot and was a truck driver, later I met him twice as he was temping as a bus driver. All the books were concerned with colonialism and Africa, the wild people and their colonial masters; there were romantic novels about young European lovers in Africa and various travelling stories. This is how I met with the two books by J.G. Ræder «Ville Dyr og sorte mennesker Med kamera og børse i Afrika», and «Paradisiske Afrika» Oslo, Norway and West Africa 1943-1946. Silence.

A sociology professor got his class to go into the slums of Baltimore and get case studies from 200 young boys and evaluate the future of these boys. None of his students thought any of the boys had any hope of a successful life and career. 25 years later a different professor made his students follow up the study. Some boys had died or moved away, amongst the 180 who were left, 176 had achieved more than ordinary success in their adult lives and careers. The professor was astonished and followed the case further himself, he was able to talk to all the cases, and they all mentioned there had been a special teacher. The professor was able to talk to the teacher whom the men had mentioned. He asked her what her magical formula was; since these men had all told him she was partly to blame for their success. She said it was simple; she loved those boys. Baltimore, America 1993. Breath.

The legend tells us that when the people wanted to build a beautiful site for the gods, some of the workers were turned into walking stones by the gods, because they complained about the danger of their work. These stone people became the building blocks of Machu Picchu, Peru 1460. Stillness.
Here they distributed the gas that came from the huge gas storage tower which you can see the ruins from in the back garden. Bergen, Norway 1926. Stop.

Lady Eleandra Burnham Peacock visited the Museum of Natural History in…………..she always enjoyed to……………objects from other cultures, one visit changed her aspect on life and……..identity, she realized that the museum as part of their exhibition had an African woman called M’Sukta living day and night in a real size model of an……………village inside the museum, she had been there for………..years. London, England 1850. Breath.


The importance of multiplicity, can it create a clear communication? Does communication need to be clear to create an understanding? Does understanding and communication become more inclusive, by paying attention to the multiple?

“Charlotta loved, also, Samoan women. She loved their characteristic heaviness of body and their square jaws. Their seeming good nature and equanimity. Natural queens. And Balinese men; she could always recognize them because of the expression of horror in their faces as they looked about them at the glass and concrete of the city. They were not seduced, not at all.”
(Alice Walker: The Temple of My Familiar, pp 10-11)

In trying to understand something about why the quality of the multiple might be treated, as less valuable than having one singular direction, I would like to refer to Luce Irigaray. In some scholars opinion Luce Irigaray has succeeded in developing an untraditional and different approach to academic practice. Luce Irigaray’s search for what she calls a new way and felicity for humanity is a very brave one, and a very multiple one. Her work is very broad, ranging from philosophy to psychoanalysis, religious studies, politics, linguistics, art and poetry. She was expelled from the Paris psychoanalytic association and the university of Paris after her publication of “Speculum of the other, women” About this traumatic event in her life, she has said the following:

“ My work in Speculum and in other readings of Western philosophers has been to make appear such errors of thinking, by those who were considered the greatest masters of our culture. I must confess that I heartily laughed when writing Speculum.
Certainly, I also wept when the intellectual leaders and authorities of our time expelled me from my university teaching position after the publication of the book, and when they have continued to hinder my path as researcher, even as writer. A friend comforted me with the words of a famous philosopher “ Sometimes it is necessary to understand the importance of a thought through the resistance that it provokes.” (Luce Irigaray: Key Writings, Preface, viii)

Qualities and descriptions associated with the feminine, as for instance love, tenderness, and the multiple, have been undermined and neglected in many main categories and ideals of the dominant tradition of western thinking, social systems and culture. These qualities that are still being undermined, might be exactly what we need to create a potent and just future. It will be an advantage for everyone when more characteristics that are considered as female influence manifest themselves in our cultural experiences, social systems and academic fields.

Why and how is the multiple important?

Luce Irigaray believes that women and men have particular characteristics related to their gender when they experience, communicate and think. Multiplicity is one of the characteristics she claims is more related to the feminine, how women more often then men emphasise and notice plurality and difference in an experience, and how men put more emphasis on objects and their value. These statements are results from research Luce Irigaray has done through interviews, dealing with questions on how the subjects understand and relate to for instance love. The women and men she interviewed had varied cultural and sosio – cultural backgrounds. The results of this research is much more complex than what I state here. Whether the results are correct is not my main concern here, but rather how the concept of multiplicity may be discussed as positive and important.

In wanting to try out a multiple approach to thought, as opposed to the more traditional one clear line of thought, one method that might be useful is to try moving constantly between themes and ideas. Without getting stuck in one idea. To not always search for a clear, pinpointed thought. The in – between spaces of confusion and insecurity are also necessary and helpful qualities to live in for a while. Why always be clear and confident? Is clarity and confidence more important then truthfulness and modesty? We are too occupied with reaching a result fast, and stating our understanding clearly, before we have thought of more than one or two possibilities. We are frightened of being vague, using up time, loosing possibilities. We play safe. Maybe this is also related to the fact that the value of time has become closely interlinked with earning money through consumerism.

Multiplicity is not used enough in our discourses. Psycho – therapist James Hillman suggests thinking broadly and using more time before making decisions, experiencing and communicating being a valuable possibility. This possibility will in a different way than the one clear line of thought nurture openness and flexibility in relation to change, new challenges, crises and conflicts caused by difference between people. Emphasis on this multiple-, and other time consuming approaches, might also spark off great ideas, unthinkable without a multiple approach. Clarity will possibly not be reached as fast through this process. But something just as important is gained: thoughts and actions that are less frightened, less in favour of sameness and hopefully less discriminatory. To be inclusive and open to difference, the multiplicity of difference, letting thoughts, ideas and actions manifest themselves through a variety of ways.

This creativity needs to be fought for in many fields. Eric Fromm and Luce Irigaray both state that the social structures in our western society still encourage sameness. This sameness has through time become the mainstream goal for all parts of society, even in the sphere of art. I believe this has had, and still has, a negative effect for everyone involved.

Artists and art relate to the multiple within human context. The field of art and other fields with strong influences, such as the media, would benefit from using multiplicity wholeheartedly to push conventions.

Judith Butler argues in her essay “Undoing gender” that a dual situation, where you can not be categorized as one gender or the other, is an open situation, that one should not have to be set and therefore be locked, but free and ever moving, changeable. I would like to suggest that the same applies to someone with a culturally dual background, one should not have to choose or make a preferred choice, one’s form is neither one or the other, but something new.


I work with many interlinked themes and components, many expressions of art working together to create a whole. The concept multiplicity supports my identity, my artistic expression and the multiple quality of my work. Multiplicity is a helpful concept to research and try to understand on many levels. It is necessary to acknowledge the different elements, their purpose and function in the whole, and to achieve clarity. The challenge of multiplicity is how to maintain it.

“They were completely without wildness, and they had forgotten how to laugh. They had also forgotten, I was to discover on our many trips, how to dance and sing. They haunted black people’s dancehalls and churches, trying to ‘pick up’ what they’d closed up in themselves. It was pitiful.” ( Alice Walker: The Temple of My Familiar, p 371).

In the beginning of the twentieth century when modernism was changing the views of what was possible within art, there were many women, and also men who broke with classical ballet creating the starting point for various new modern dance styles.
The dance technique that has particularly suited my movement energy and values in relation to training the body are the various forms of a technique called release technique. This technique is developed from the legacy left by artists like José Limon and Mary Wigman. This technique focuses on flow, weight and individuality. Its core aim is to use what the body has of natural “helpers”: weight, joints, bones, breath and fluids, to ones advantage. The result is a training of the body that actively uses some of the bodies’ natural components. Certain movement patterns are used as a training to help the mover to have a more relaxed and balanced way of holding her/his body without using unnecessary muscular tension during choreographed movement. British ‘release’ teacher Gill Clarke adds a strong use of imagining of real and associative images of spaces, fluids, bones and weight inside the body. This is a nearly meditative use of ones own thoughts together with one’s breathing that aims to create an awareness of one’s own body as an instrument for movement.
I find this technique very satisfying as a dynamic, strong and open base to build on with a more diverse artistic vocabulary. The freedom for imagination, flow and breathing to actively participate unites traditional knowledge with recent developments of modern dance vocabulary. Release technique takes care of the body and communicates the internal and external fluidity of motion and spatial manifestation of force, rather than focusing primarily on its muscles, outer surfaces and beautiful results.

As a dance educated artist I find the material of movement and the body as a tool positively challenging and exciting. Having said that, I disagree with the extreme focus in the world of dance (as I know it in the west) on perfection of a certain type of body – and movement ideal. A discipline adapted in the identity and legacy of strict and structured dance techniques, such as classical ballet. A beauty controlled and decided through male hierarchy and domination, stigmatizing both genders, does not support my task in dance.
The contemporary dance scene slowly but surely gets broader, and different approaches to training become more accepted. But the multitude of choice available for the public, and the real support to alternative training styles is in my opinion still too small. This choice, and opportunity for experiment, is also too small in contemporary dance institutions and mainstream society.
Contemporary western society still nurtures a certain need of physical perfection that classical ballet still fulfils. Most contemporary educational dance institutions and dance companies still favour and use classical ballet as their main form of dance training. To have such a formal dance style as the mainstream definition of the value and content of dance creates a certain set of psychological behavioural patterns and physical patterns, in dance and images of dance that are hard to get rid of, and that discourage development of artistic experimentation. This stereotyping also knocks the spectators’ possible appreciation of dance. How can the public know what it wants if it has had no real experience of other alternatives?

Some contemporary dance being performed in theatres in our western culture today leave the spectators with the sense of dance as a beautiful and impressive, but rather “empty” experience; they experience how good the dancers are trained at fulfilling their complicated movements and physical challenges, but many works seem incapable of giving MORE. The sharing and giving of oneself in many cases seems non-existent in the communication between the dancers/work and the spectator. I would like to see the legacies of less bourgeois dance styles – more rooted in a modernist, expressionist, folkloric and streetwise tradition manifest themselves to a larger extent in our art of dance. If we let dance have the multitudes of characteristics that it has in reality, and let these manifest themselves artistically, dance, as a means of expression could be so much more than what we have let it be so far.


A contemporary choreographer that I think has been successful in breaking with the formal and the contained that lies in the communication of western contemporary dance is Anna Theresa de Keersmaker, director of the contemporary dance company Rosas. I was greatly impressed by the way she created a very open and unpretentious communication with the spectators in her solo work “Once”, performed at BIT-Teatergarasjen in October 2005. Even though she has a classical base, which she uses in her movement vocabulary, this does not become an issue. She performs with a different air and attitude than the legacy of classical ballet usually allows.

By communicating expressive movement, human identity, music, colours and objects, not simply showing how good she is as a mover, she opens up for an important communication with the audience.

There was a discussion after the performance, where Anna Theresa de Keersmaker had been asked to answer questions and talk about her work in general and about the particular solo she had just shown. She talked about wanting to use humanity, being more human in her expression, and to have a direct communication. She wanted to relate to the spectators as a partner. She used the term “I love you because you love me” in explaining how you open up for communication by giving and having an open attitude. She said she wants the audience to stay with her, “please stay with me.” She compared it to the action of telling a story to children. If you are not communicating, they won’t be listening either.
To manage to open up for communication and give she used the focus of her eyes, sometimes looking directly at the spectators. She explained how she purposely wanted to use eye contact and silence at the beginning of the show to get to know the audience, build a relationship, this she explained is a certain energy that needs labour from the performer and the audience. She stated that she wanted to communicate on a personal level. I noticed how her use of an open and relaxed physical attitude in body and face contributes positively to a spectator’s path into the work. She had a presence that stated involvement and eagerness to convey her themes, her personal twist and translation of the movement material makes one want to listen and perceive.

She also reflected on how going on stage could be perceived as an ego thing and narcissism, she claimed she does not like that part, but likes to go on stage to give everything, then she suggested maybe it was not an ego thing after all for her.


Personally I do not believe in the importance of showing off ME as a particular kind of beautiful/extraordinary woman. But rather the vulnerability and strength that might lie in the qualities I convey with my materials, the body combined with choreography and installation. By paying attention to the multiple choices within my themes, being as truthful to my own task, ideals and knowledge as I can manage I gain a personal and less formal expression. To achieve this I have found it necessary to reconsider dance traditions, and consider new and frank ways of relating to the material, situation, and the public. I want to find and develop alternative images, values and qualities of dance as a movement and visual art form.
If I can avoid undermining or focusing on the body as a commodity in my work, I have fulfilled one of my goals as an artist.

Breath and ritual
“She did everything at just the same pace as before, she could tell the time of day or night by the moisture in the atmosphere, and she went about her business as if she would live forever, and forever was very, very long.” (Alice Walker: The Temple of My Familiar, p 48)

One can define breath as the vital force or spirit of a living person or animal, and concretely as the entire process of inhaling and exhaling.
Luce Irigaray gives breath immense importance: The accomplishment of humanity, its perfect realization, requires the cultivation of one’s own breath as divine presence, in ourselves and between us. (Luce Irigaray: Key Writings, p 169)

Luce Irigaray relates breath to the divine (holy, spiritual). She claims that women are divine from birth. To keep this divine quality the most important tool is the cultivation of ones breath.

In “The thinking body”, Mabel E. Todd discusses the importance of breath on human physiology and the effect of physiological and mental processes on human movement. This book has become one of the most important books for disciples of the contemporary dance technique release technique. The diaphragm is the most active agent in breathing, situated inside the ribcage, with its associates, the nerves and muscles it reaches into the most remote or secluded place of the individual body.

“The secrets of the function of breathing are vast and much research must be done to understand the intricate connections of the diaphragm in their relation to all expressions of life, physical, mental and emotional.” (Mabel E. Todd: The thinking body, p 217).


My experiences with using breath actively in yoga, giving birth, and in everyday – and dance movement, make me consider breath as much more than a natural action for survival. Breath is a tool I am researching, and pay attention to. In my performance-work I have used the action of breath quite literally to represent silence, pause, contemplation, presence and concentration.

“This requires to move but also to remain within oneself, to have exchanges with the outside and then to collect her self, to communicate with the soul of the world, sometimes with the soul of others, and afterwards to return to the solitude and the silence of the own soul. A silence which consists not at all in a lack of words, but in an almost tactile retouching of the spiritual in one self, in a listening to the own breathing, appeased and attended.” (Luce Irigaray: Key Writings, p 167)

One can define ritual as a tool to practice and study the spiritual in ones being and beliefs. In a more concrete sense it can be described as a formalized pattern of actions or words followed regularly and precisely.

At the start of the process of working with this project I was concerned about the importance of art. I imagined the importance of artistic happenings to be like the importance of rituals. I came to think of how art and cultural experiences in some cultures are considered spiritual, religious. This is the case in for instance ancient Peruvian cultures.

I do believe that art, music and other cultural experiences are of great importance to our society and can be compared to the importance of rituals. An example is how the art experience opens up for new possibilities, or unknown territories for the spectator, hence it opens up for knowledge about difference, is a facilitator of the knowledge of difference. As I have already stated, knowing and accepting difference give less discrimination in our relations with each other. Hence, the experience of art is of great importance to us and to our society. Something that constantly need to be re-experienced, like a ritual.

In my work I employ the associations and practical functions I get from the concepts of breath and ritual. I relate breath to abilities such as involvement. When being aware of and practising breath one gets a stronger sensuous awareness by the concentrated and rhythmic qualities of breath. I relate ritual to the ability of being truthful to ones task and giving them value, by knowing what they mean to us. I actively use associations to breath and ritual as a way of giving content and background to the movement material that the performers work with and think of as they perform. Some of the movement sections can be described as constructed rituals to create a certain movement – presence.

Excerpts from “Endangered spaces”, Kunsthøgskolen in Bergen 13.03.06


There`s a crew of five people in denim clothing. Everyone is damn beautiful without make-up. Everyone is damn cute with small I-just-woke-up eyes. You can definitely tell that they are all from somewhere. Their shoes are old. They used to be white. While the audience needs to wear a life west for security reasons the crew of five doesn`t, for artistic reasons. The sky is the limit for the scenography, and underneath the piece it is really deep. But all we wonder is what sex they are underneath the hard denim. The movements are simple; small travels with one arm after the other; leg, toungue. The air is salty. Everyone is thirsty. And everyone has to pee.

We fall in love with all five, and feel seasick in our diaphragm. Not knowing if they are somebody`s father or mother but knowing that they are somebody`s child. Our dream scenario would be to be their loyal pet.

The same night every member of the audience have the same dream. They pre-sensed it while watching the performance. Next morning everyone is filled with the same story about the dog from school which belongs to the butcher. The dog ate the only rabbit that was left, right before the queen came hungry for meat. They couldn’t imagine the consequences but realized anyway it could include death. So doggy hid his puppy eyes and gave his life.

Av Sigrid Marie Kittelsaa Vesaas, publisert i The Swedish Dance History ep.4.

I wrote a piece of fucking good writing

I wrote a piece of fucking good writing: this is not it

Cat dying on the floor in 3- 2- 1

Find a mantra
Fuck the mantra

Fiddle with something on top of an important building
Get arrested
Write home and apologise
Alternatively tell them your neighbour put you up to it

Take a photo of yourself during the night
Accuse the same neighbour for having shot it

Untie all the knots of your insides, and attempt to walk

A common thought is probably not remotely common at all
They sound similar, but that does not make them related
Leave all common thoughts before they kill you

Before you die of all age, consider not dying at all

Who can imagine themselves ruling the world?
I guess it takes balls I don’t have
Roll over the world and apologise
Roll over and apologise
One should apologise more on a day- to- day basis
It makes character dissolve efficiently with no traces of a self

Sabotage friendships, progress and general conversations
To do the opposite will then feel like getting high

In general: go by smell
If things smell suspicious, odds are they are
If things smell too good to be true: the same

Fun and light- heartedness will be replaced by the opposite
Bear in mind whilst having fun and feeling light- hearted

I think sharks are the most beautiful and efficient creatures I can ever dream of encountering

End of dream 1

Skrevet av Sunniva Vikør Egenes

Tracing my questions -about becoming a dancer

Being in control, technically excellent, versatile, intelligent, charismatic, creative, flexible,
communicative, beautiful. Being a great dancer.

The performer is a field within a field.

Contemporary dance performances often deals with subjects that
goes beyond the idea of the dancer as a virtuosic instrument that is
to be admired and idealized.

It has become more a norm than an exception that the performer is asked in various degrees
to produce hers/his own material, and actively take part in observing, discussing and
influencing the artistic development of the piece.

Still there are residues of old ideas of hierarchy in dance.

I want to express my belief that we shouldn’t seek to equalize the dancers/choreographer by
saying that the dancers are choreographing, but by expanding and defining the ideas about
how the contemporary dancer creates from the inside of the project.

In 2005, while in my 3rd year in PARTS,I was searching to understand more about my role as
a dancer.
Already at that time I had no desire to be a choreographer, but felt I lacked the precise
language to explain or even justify to myself and others why I felt being “just a dancer” was
more than enough.
I spent a month interviewing teachers, dancers, choreographers that were a part of my
educational environment at that time, about exactly this:
We talked about ideas like authenticity, presence, training, technique, all in all what abilities
to develop and what responsibilities one should acknowledge as an aspiring contemporary

This work resulted in a small text called “The Performer is a Spy” which was published in the
Belgian Etcetera magazine in October the same year. The ideas that merged and developed
from that text work, were the beginning of a process of expanding, and articulating the
language I use to communicate about my performing work.

I will use some of these statements from that text as starting points for this lecture.

They said:
“ But you know that there cannot be a base, right?
You are a field of constant shifting structures.
You might want there to be en hierarchy of knowledge.
But goals and truths can usually only stay in its original form
You need the stamina to work.”

Today I am going to talk about how I am using my language to

Sometimes we talk too much, talk about unnecessary things, trying to impress, we make
excuses, defend or attack at the wrong moment, make ourselves misunderstood and
frustrated. But if we try to be precise, even about the moments we feel we are in
complete darkness, there are so many details and differentiations to profit from.

The colours of the words we use, make me aware of all the shades and nuances I both
observe and experience through moving.

They told me: “You need the stamina to work.”

I remember an experience I had in the first weeks of working with Hooman Sharifi and
Impure Company.
We were working separately on making movement material.
I realized then, when it came to focus on a singular task, I had the attentions span of about
10 minutes. Then I felt like I was done, empty. I took a break came back and tried a again;
10 minutes, blank, left the space again, cried a bit, returned: 10minutes of concentrated
work. I asked Hooman: “What do I do?!?”
He told me to stay in it. Stay in the not knowing.
I had to wait 3 days. Then came one thought: “Ah.. maybe I could try it this way..”

I try to look closely, stay alert in the darkness/allow silence, ask myself:
“What if I just do for a while? What if, I allow myself to not know, to stay in the feeling of
being lost?”
I try to pass through my boredom, it always comes at some point. Without becoming idle.
I know I will get impatient, I know I will try to find the “right” answer, and I will try to avoid
I try to accept that I might fail. I try to dare to be fragile, and find the strength, not the excuse
in being so. I try to observe every moment of a process with open eyes.

It’s not about being able to be smart all the time, but about training to not only speak when I
am sure it’s clever.
It is about starting to articulate, even just to myself, all the different stages I experience when
creating from the inside.

Sometimes it’s not even about speaking. But about attentive listening:
Where is this work right now?

Despite so many frustrations, I have realized that many things happen when I feel like I
am standing still.

I believe it is important to look beyond your ego and into the void, between yourself and the
others, that the performance will fill.
Where are we right now and how to move from this point?
Then, hopefully, we can allow the language to surface both in the physical material and in my
verbal articulations.

Dancing and thinking is the same, it might just taste different.

They told me:
“Try to go further than only trying to be good.
Try to get better at not being in control, and not only being good, but being skillful.
Go beyond the expectations of the cliché.”

Pushing and questioning the borders is a part of my work.
There is a fine line between becoming the masochistic dancer, and daring to change what you
think is your borders.
There are nuances of discomfort and there are different types of pain.

They said:
“Technical information should always be functional so that you can
learn how it works, how to help it, and make it stronger when
needed. Learn how to do it the way you do it.
You need to know how to be specific in your work, they said.
Be super precise, technical if you like, in what you do without being
limited by a style. Do as many styles as you can. “

How to train techniqually? what training is necessary?
As a part of our training we spend years on understanding how our body moves, and how to
move correctly, functionally. So sometimes the switch to working on concepts that go beyond
an idea of wrong and right, almost becomes unimaginable.
We still are often mesmerized by beautiful moving bodies.
Sometimes we confuse this with choreography.

There are many hierarchies of knowledge.
You choose what you make your body servile to.

One of the greatest things of being out of school, was to be able to choose my own
training methods.

At the same time, it puts another demand on you:
What does my body need to be able to work?
How does my body work?
How do I push it, continue to challenge and expand my skills?
Do I need to have a daily practice?
Do I need to do the same thing every day?
I believe it is favorable to be quite physically strong, have a relatively good stamina,
flexibility, coordination and an ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.
All of these elements are quite general and can all vary in their relations and importance to
each performer. But it will affect what you make and how you move.

They told me:
“Don’t be afraid to believe and dive into ideologies and
styles of working.Be a field of performing identities, not only a
single persona. Try to go further than only trying to be good. Try to
get better at not being in control.
You should look for the details and metaphors.”

A ballet class can be great, but it is not always the most effective answer.
I always found a lot of playfulness and curiosity when exploring different styles of moving.
And it can give more tools to play with if you are able to look at how the functionalities of the
body alter when passing through the different forms. Look for the details and metaphors.

A phrase I use a lot:
The same is never only the same.
By looking into the details of all my physical experiences, be it social interactions, gestures,
postures, facial expressions, different styles of dancing, moving, training etc there are
universal similarities and important differences.

If your mind is active in this way of looking, any situation can provide technical information.

“Learn how to do it the way you do it.”

When I was about 14 years old, I remember my first public jazz-dance performance: we were
dancing a number from “Grease” at the local shopping mall for the King of Norway. For this
show we had to smile all the time.
It felt very strange, and a little bit like I was lying.

How do I/do I not fake it?

When I entered the local high school dance-program, I was told that technically my levels in
dance where very low, but I was a good performer. I tried to understand what this actually
meant by retracing what I thought I had done in my dancing, so that I would be able to do it
again whenever I needed.
…This is one of my earliest memories I have of faking it.
I wanted to have full control of my own expression and the reading of it, and thus.. faking it.
We do these things all the time, and it is also from experiences like this we, for better or
worse, try to build our performing identities.
Today, I try to look at the concrete physical outcomes are from these attempts:
Ex: Standing and being “ present”: There can be a certain theatricality; stiffening of the
eyes, fixing my look, slight lift of the chin, a certain body tone. And/or: Invite being seen,
remembering to blink my eyes, noticing the distance between my feet, breathing through my
mouth or nose, going nowhere etc.

If I need to be real, how do I distract myself from the trying to be real?

Authenticity as a main goal is overrated. Authentic working is something else. I can’t make
you think I am being authentic, but it can be visible that I am working on something. And that
can at least be real.

They said:

“Don‘t only use your body (mentally and physically) only in what you are good at
– and don‘t let anybody else do it either.
You choose for what and to what you make your body servile.”

Being a dancer working for others, I am often confronted with the question of how to
negotiate my own ego. Even if I feel stupid, scared, unsure, even invisible, I doesn’t mean it is
not what the work needs. Even if I sometimes feel insulted or embarrassed, it might not be the
moment to try to excuse myself or explain my choices. Sometimes I am treated with injustice,
but sometimes not, even if I might feel so.

I really believe that being less visible on stage can also be a skill.

Versatility is overrated.
You can learn to use many different aspects of yourself, and thus be able to physicalize many
different ideas of a body. But in the end, you are still in the same body. With habits and
tendencies that can be challenged, but you will still be you.

Since 2007 I have worked with Impure Company, with more or less the same core-group of
people. What I have gained from this experience, is a certain relief from the pressure of
originality and the idea that anyone can or should making only “good” work. Despite our
hard work and efforts made to always re-question ourselves, and how and from where we
make our work, there are fundamental elements that never change. I have never been more
tired and frustrated with myself and the potentiality of my body. Working from such a fragile
and stripped down base, has opened my eyes to the nuances of work that can exist and grow
within such a “constant”.

Then again, the nice thing about doing more short-term projects with different people is:
It can feel very refreshing and enjoyable to change settings. It can be an exciting way to find
new influences and experience different sides of working and variations of involvement.
I often feel very new.
But I think is important to not be seduced by this.

When I was younger my belief in my ability to be different, was much more naive. But just
from spending more and more years in this body, I also have to learn to accept some of these
conditions in order to be able continue working.

My last year in P.A.R.T.S. the students had a workshop with Deborah Hay. I remember her
saying (slightly paraphrasing): “If I would walk into this room, as Deborah Hay, this 60-
something old lady with these beautiful young, capable bodies..I would turn at the door and
go back home.. Instead I think: What if my trillion billion cells could simultaneously perform
their dance?” (-I still find her to be a very beautiful dancer.) “

I know I am not that old, but I am still questioning:
How do I continue dancing in an aging body?
(When I was 17, nothing really hurt. Today; many more things hurt.)

What do I care about, what do I believe in?
I never enter a new working situation, expecting to have all my
desires fulfilled, and it is not necessarily my interest to only do things
I am good at. Whatever that means.

As a dancer I believe it is important to remember that we choose for what we make our body
servile to.

In the end I have to decide for what I care for, what I believe in, who I believe in.
(Even if it means to risk doing work others really dislike.)

The nice thing about working with Impure, is that it so clearly is both liked and disliked by
our audience. No matter how sincere our intentions or efforts are.
I again and again realize the banality of thinking that there can only be a singular
definition of what is “good” and “bad”.

As a performer and dancer, I don’t make work only in my name, and the working
constellations I operate from changes often. And within that, the sets of demands on the
dancer varies equally much.

It has therefore been important to feel I have a body of work that spans beyond the singular
project. That runs through all of the work I perform in and the classes I teach. I do it the way I do it.

One overarching interest I have had for many years, is trying to understand language.

Not only the “language of the body”, but letters, words, sentences we are using.

I have found that organizing my thoughts and experiences through writing and discussing
creates an anchor, which allows me to let go and be moved by all these bodies.

I am working with language as a dancer.

Sometimes people assume that becoming a choreographer is the next step after being a
dancer. I have been asked several times: “you have some time off, why don’t you make
something? Or: you’re a nice performer, why don’t you make something?”
But for me it is not the same.
When we, as dancers, start to articulate the many layers of our work, we also might inspire
people (both the public and other dance artists) to look differently at the dancing body.
All that it can be beyond the idea of the one SuperBody.
It can be about more than being seen only because you should be the best.
There is so much beauty in a body outside of the Super.
There are so many ways to work skillfully and with specificity.

I am a field that is in a field.

When we talk about the silent dancer, unable to articulate
her/himself, we mutually fooling ourselves: There is always language.
But, it isn’t always the right moment to speak.
Or moments you don’t know what to say.
But there is always language.

In the beginning of a creation, I sometimes feel like my body is a black hole for words.
Because all of me is so occupied, trying to listen and understand what landscape my body is
moving through and creating together with the others.

What changed since the text in 2005?
When graduating, I thought I had such a great toolbox to enter the world with. That I would
be a great manager of this professional package called “the performer and dancer Loan Ha”.
I thought that I could separate the personal and professional me with almost surgical accuracy.
That the shy, uncontrolled, silly, emotional sides of me could stay protected.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, trying to stay continuously in control, improving and producing
good work, have shown to be much more challenging, or even impossible, than I anticipated.

However articulate I try to be with words, my body still feels primal,
driven by emotions, instincts, and uncomplicated needs.
But as my language pass through my body, my body passes through language,
and this is the place from where I move.

Skrevet av Loan Hà, foredrag framført under Oktoberdans 2010