In October / November 2020, I was determined to have a practical research period of my doctoral project “Disorientation as a choreographic strategy” take place. During four weeks at Heizhaus Berlin, I hoped that we could even let it result in an examined part at the end. My collaborators Liz Rosenfeld, Giulia Paolucci and I met in the Heizhaus of Uferstudios Berlin waiting for Tanja Erhart to join us as soon as possible when out of quarantine in Austria. When this took longer and longer time, we installed a zoom connection that would link Tanja’s Alpine landscape with our urban one. We worked, thought, and felt together as if we could beat the current pandemic. While born from necessity, the remote setting turned out to accentuate our research question. How could we think about performance and time when not even being in the same place: How to link our different timings? How to acknowledge that not only our body times but also places and contexts have a specific time? How could we share time?
We developed multiple strategies of how to think about this. Time in one place or in several places, with a collective focus or with several foci, following one body or allowing multiple body times were points of consideration in numerous try out sessions. However, in the last ten days of our research period, when the borders as well as the hotels in Berlin began to shut down further and further and the medical laboratories were so overrun that it was impossible to get a negative necessary PCR test result in time, in short, when the second Covid wave began to hit Europe with more force than the first one, our hopes of coming together at least for the last part of the research and the examination faded away. Would we have been prepared for a remote setting? Yes, as we had done it all along and were interested in remote settings as a new accessibility tool, we kind of were. Did we feel virtuous or good enough with it on a level that answered to the requirements of a mid-term doctorate exam? Not at all. After long internal and external negotiations, we decided to postpone the examination event from November to May 2021. Little did we know that the world would still be on a hold at that point.
In the early spring 2021, the question of what to do with the new May dates thus sneaked up on us again and had us realize that no one of us would feel comfortable to travel or spend time in the studio together. Liz, Tanja, and me thus began an email conversation about the topics that we had been dealing with, this time addressed from our home computers and thus a completely different perspective: How do we perceive time and our own time these days, at home, in our daily routines, in the memory of past performances and in respect of a possible future? Whereas this conversation could have also just resulted in a backbone research for the original topic of how to create a performance time together, it turned out to be a discussion in its own rights, shedding light on self-perceptions, relationships and accessibility: While Tanja prefers that things she does take longer time over the idea to be “helped”, I actually like to overload my time with stuff because speed allows me to navigate easier. Liz always needs to follow her intuition before it becomes an annoying itch. Finding and processing time together under these circumstances, appears to be more complicated that we had originally even guessed. But what we also found to be true is the desire to keep trying. Maybe from the special circumstances of a pandemic, maybe due to a more general problem of how to share time became urgent. And the question of a future became rather prominent. What kind of future can we imagine together? If what we call future is some sort of idea of time which enables us a present time together or if we would rather do away with it in general because it postpones an actual effort and is a sort of privilege, we do not feel comfortable with, stayed unsolved in our conversation. As do many of the questions raised, of course.
However, when reading through those emails, the answers and futures we gave to each other and the perspectives that were generated seemed very rich. The postponement of the examination had created its own artistic work which I did not want to get lost. We thus decided to read out this email conversation instead of the practical examination on 22nd May 2021 in the frame of the 20 hour-festival “Our Dance -The Living Room Edition” by PSR collective at Heizhaus. We read it out loud, as a sort of performance, thus sharing time finally on the base of a script. We read it out loud during sunset, the space becoming continuously darker and cozier but also providing continuously less orientation, thus letting times fall apart a bit (honestly, this might have been our idea, but a technical failure would not allow us to switch artificial lights of completely so that the darker and darker space did not really take place). We read it out loud, Liz and me being in Berlin and Tanja again joining remotely from London this time. This one-time event made us fall in love with the text more than before so that we felt confident enough to submit it for publication. Nivel jumped on and here we are: “When I fall asleep at night and slowly emerge to waking life in the morning, I think about how I will navigate” is a very much co-authored publication, initiated by me in the frame of my research. It’s a short read and has pictures in it, so maybe it is even readable later in the day for you, during sunset for you when times fall apart a bit. Hope you enjoy.
Thank you again to Liz Rosenfeld and Tanja Erhart for their words, Camilla Lacadée for the camera that captured the photos, Marjo Malin for the graphic design, Michaela Bränn for the coordination, PSR collective for the occasion to read it to an audience and Nivel series for making the book and publication possible.
Juli Reinartz: But as I fall asleep at night and slowly emerge to waking life in the morning, I think about how I will navigate.
In collaboration with Liz Rosenfeld and Tanja Erhart
Nivel 18. Theatre Academy, Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke), University of the Arts Helsinki, 2022.
ISBN 978-952-353-053-9 (printed)
ISBN 978-952-353-054-6 (pdf)
ISSN (printed) 2341-9660
The publication will also be published as a webpage version in the near future.
Visit the publications series Nivel homepage
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