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.

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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

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