Circling the Brink

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Circling the Brink

Andrew and I are currently preparing for an Illuminous performance that will be part of the Circling the Brink event, Duplexity, happening as part of the PAVE Festival in Emerald, Victoria, this coming weekend. Duplexity will take place in Telopeia Gardens, a dreamy, lush, serene place. The audience will be taken on a guided walk through the gardens, seeing a series of wonderfully creative performances along the way. You can see us, amidst the ferns in what is perhaps the most shadowy nook of the gardens. We played on site earlier this week, experimenting with the projection (it’s not easy to create visible, readable projections of words in an outdoor location for a daytime performance, but I loved the effect we discovered in the process), and feeling into the atmosphere not only of the gardens themselves but also the micro-climate and moods and complexities of our little patch.

Our work is always site-specific and responds to what is right there in the moment. What emerges is unique whether in practice sessions or public performance. This was an intense practice, as we’d both had very busy and challenging weekends and were negotiating conversations and connection, the practicalities of working with the site – powering the projection, creating a screen for the projection and positioning it, assessing the light, considering the weather forecasts, working out where the audience would be, where I would sit and Andrew would stand (sometimes I like to hide a bit, sometimes I like to be more visible; Andrew likes to be able to see the projection if he feels to read my words now and then, but he also is drawn to play outwards to the audience rather than away), and then trying to drop in to actually playing and feeling our way into the place and time. As always, after a few moments of playing, we were deeply at home with this work and our connectedness as collaborators and friends.

Duplexity runs on both Saturday and Sunday, this coming weekend, but Illuminous are only performing on the Saturday, at 11 and then again at 2. Full event details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/782127531936472/

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An Illuminous New Year

In the redwoods. Photograph ©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

Yesterday, Andrew and I retreated to the redwoods forest for our first Illuminous improvisation session for the year.  You can read about the Illuminous project here.

As well as trumpet,  Andrew played medicine drum and sang.  I was writing in my journal and caught up in a deeply incantatory state for much of the session.  At one point words were drizzling out like water from a tap.  I’m picturing one of the garden taps of my childhood in northern Victoria: all kinds of weird watery patterns came out of those wonky taps.

When we started the Illuminous project more than eighteen months ago, I wrote in my journal during our sessions for a long time before we started using a laptop and projector.  Nearly all our sessions were in the forest or next to pristinely lovely Cement Creek or the river.  Andrew didn’t read what I’d written until after the session or sometimes I could be convinced to read it to him, voice cracking in shyness. But an almost uncanny fusion almost always arose in the sessions.  An overlapping rawness between us.  The emerging of a shared space where it seemed possible to be truthful and authentic.  To be creative and expressive from deep in the heart and the guts.  For what arose in the moment to have permission to be there as precisely itself.

In our public performances so far we have used projection rather than having me writing in my journal.  Andrew can see what I’m writing, as the audience sees it.  Not that he’s looking all the time, just as I’m not consciously listening to every sound he plays.  I’m not ‘writing to the music’.  Andrew is not playing a response to the words.

We intend to experiment with taking projection into natural spaces such as the forest soon.  But I also like what happens in the work when I am writing in my journal and the creative fusion happens differently to when we use projection.

During yesterday’s session, I lay on the ground and wrote slowly, letting the words fall in their patterns from the tap while Andrew played his trumpet. After a while he sat down nearby and began playing softly, and I stopped writing altogether, listening some of the time but mostly trying to let myself drift, resisting the need to have to do anything in particular.  I was tuned in to the sounds down at the level of the forest floor and up through the branches of the trees, and our own sounds. I noticed tiny shifts in the light and the weather and how we seemed to respond to them sub- or un-consciously. Andrew put down the trumpet and took up the medicine drum and started playing it and improvising with his voice.  I was writing again, and having a deep sensory experience of us and what we were doing and where we were.

In the work, a kind of score is created, a three-dimensional score in words and music and less tangible elements.  Shapes and sounds.  Inscriptions in air.  The work is about everything that happens in the time and space of the session, and sometimes what’s outside the session too as it’s an ongoing work.  Bodily presences.   Movements, both small and expansive.  Met and avoided gazes.  I’m especially interested in the subtlest happenings.  The scratching of my pen’s nib on paper or the tapping of my fingertips on my keyboard. (I never realised how rhythmically I write and type until we began this project.)  The sounds of Andrew’s breathing as he plays, but my breathing too for my writing process is very much of the body. (In private I’m a noisy writer and very physical.  It’s a challenge for me to dare to be that writer while others are watching, even Andrew, despite the trust we have built up between us.)  Instants of transparency in facial expressions and body language.  Sometimes, a silence or a stillness.  And then there’s mood.  Thought.  Feeling.  The tacit occurrence of life taking place: you can’t necessarily sense it, name it, pin it down. But it is happening, in the moment, and this work is documenting those profoundly delicate instances of moments passing in the lives of us and the audience and the location and by extension the world.

I am interested in this: tracing the minutiae of emotional life in the body and in the world through creative improvisation.

In the redwoods. Photograph ©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

In the redwoods. Photograph ©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

December 3, 2015

 

I’m feeling my way back in to the Nijinsky poems today; reaching out my hands with my eyes closed for the relative quietness this project offers me.

I’ve been in a cave-like space, crouching in the dark. For my collaborator Andrew Darling and I have publically performed our improvised performance artwork twice in the past two weeks, and for me to perform publically requires an opening-up that is difficult, and in truth, painful.

Perhaps like many other performers, I need to make myself very raw and vulnerable in order to bring out what’s at the heart and guts. It’s my intention to be in full authenticity in my writing, as in life, and in this project particularly, I want to tease out these states: states of authentic art and living; states of vulnerability.

And so, since the second performance which took place this Sunday night just gone, I have been doing it hard emotionally, having a sense of skinlessness, and I’ve dived deep into the cave-like place that is my extreme sensitivity.

It has been beautiful to observe Andrew in a celebratory, excited space, creating a video of footage of the performance, enjoying the process of looking at the footage and seeing the potential of the work… while I have remained in my post-performance cave for the time being, processing some quite excruciating emotions.

Because Illuminous is improvised performance art, it is different every time we practise or perform it. From the very first session, which took place at Cement Creek, in the forest near Warburton, there was a powerful sense of authentic expression present which took us both by surprise. What is written and played by us varies every time. It emerges in the moment, note by note, word by word, silence and space by silence and space.

This is an image of us, taken by Kate Baker, at work in the Redwoods forest near our homes in Warburton. Here, I know I was in full submission to the improvisation.

 

Indigo Perry and Andrew Darling - improvisation - in “the Redwoods”, East Warburton Nov 2015 ©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

Indigo Perry and Andrew Darling – improvisation – in “the Redwoods”, East Warburton Nov 2015
©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

 

I rarely remember much of what I have written, by the end of the performance or practice session. It’s like trying to remember a dream. I also don’t recall much of Andrew’s playing, but I hold the shapes and weights of it inside, and it seems both familiar and strange if I listen afterwards to a recording.

We are sharing the video of the most recent performance, which took place at the Hawthorn Town Hall. Vulnerability is very much part of the work indeed and part of its power. And it’s with intense vulnerability that I commit to sharing the footage. Aesthetically, it’s not perfect to me. I would like the projected text to be more deeply infused in the performance space, washing over us like a phosphorescent wave, rather than suspended above us. I would like to have surrendered to full authenticity of the heart and body in my writing: in this performance I was distracted by an awareness of the nature of the event and audience and so I self-censored a little, avoiding very dark themes and imagery and sexually explicit material. I don’t want to do that in future performances. I am dedicated to being in exquisite authenticity and letting what is of the moment be present, no matter how uncomfortable or discomforting.

You can watch the video here, or else visit the Illuminous page and view it from there.