Karen
Christopher

TwoFold: the particularities of working in pairs

This second symposium on duet work was held at Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre on 3rd and 4th March 2017 and included presentations by the following:

John Kannenberg, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of Portable Sound
Professor David Berman, Center for Research in String Theory at Queen Mary, University of London
Przymierska Morgan, a London-based performance duo

Emma Bennett, performance maker
Karen Glossop & Paul Murray, co-founders of Wishbone Theatre
Vanio Papadelli & Tania Batzoglou, performance makers

Tin Can People, The Katie & Pip Project
Marcus Orlandi, performance artist and curator

Mira Loew & Jane Frances Dunlop
Julie Brixey-Williams & Libby Worth, freelance artist and movement practitioner (respectively)

Teri & James Harper-Bailie, artist researchers and collaborative PhD candidates
Marta Zboralska, a second-year AHRC-funded research student in the History of Art department at University College London

Here is the text that Sophie Grodin and I delivered as an introduction:

Introduction to Twofold symposium (click for symposium schedule pdf)

It could begin with this:
A panel where three people from different vantage points talk about something in relation to doubles or twins or a set of two somethings.

It could begin with this: two people are like two strands comprising a rope which holds together by the pressure of the twist of contradictory forces, without which, it is just fibres reduced to gossamer, easily lost to the wind.

It could continue like this:
A couple of police officers tell us all about how they work together to complement each other’s strengths. In a kind of good cop bad cop routine.

It could continue like this, comfortable with the fact that I will never truly know you.

It could end like this:
A large thunderclap is heard from the sky, and everyone rushes to the windows to watch the largest hail stones they have ever seen falling to the ground. As we look closer, we see that each of the hail stones is really two hail stones, fused together.

We welcome you to TwoFold - the particularities of working in pairs.
We have been thinking in two’s for about 6 years now and wanted to widen the dialogue.
We think this will be an opportunity to do that with all of you.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, Birkbeck College, duet

Posted on Monday, 6 March 2017 by Karen Christopher

Untangling in front of you

After performing our new duet miles & miles at Chisenhale Dance Space in July I became transfixed by a coule of questions: How did we untangle in front of you? How could we trust it was something to watch? Isn't untangling  knot something about which you say "I can't do this if I'm watched"? The untangling of a rope or string or other line or set of lines can be one of the most panic inducing dilemmas there are. Why would I want to play it out in real uncontrollable time in front of an audience.

The untangling is an unquestionable by-product of the forces and concerns we are laying out in miles & miles. Something about the attempt at linearity or organisation of a sense of life and its actual uncontrolability is at the heart of our performance work.

To reorganise a stream of consciousness unleashed into the world merely by being alive is almost an impossible task.

Undoing a knot is the kind of thing that might produce the declaration (even to friendly onlookers): I can't do this in front of you.

The pressure of another's gaze is unsettling to the mind of the untangler. Furthermore, what might be streamlined for one person to sort out becomes precarious with two as each sees the knot or tangle from a different point of view. The binocular aspect is just enough to tip the apple cart. But as we do work in tandem we must exercise the capacity to refrain from turning on each other like over-heated rats in a crowded cage. And this is how we kept our nerve, by knowing there is a future to survive together.


. . . this will eventually be completed as an essay including (but not limited to) the following sections: the whole body through the loop, the performance of confidence & optimism, the technical terms we feigned to make it seem we were in control, and the vicarious thrill of our ultimate victory.

Photo: Manu Valcarce Photography 2016

Tags: miles & miles, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space

Posted on Sunday, 7 August 2016 by Karen Christopher

Green Letters

Sophie Grodin and I wrote "On Creating a Climate of Attention: the composition of our work” an essay which appeared in Performance and Ecology: What Can Theatre Do? a special performance issue of the journal Green Letters; studies in ecocriticism (Volume 20 issue 3, 2016) guest edited by Deidre Heddon and Carl Lavery. Here is an excerpt from notes for our introductory section:

As a starting directive we give ourselves the goal of listening and of sensing the environment in which we find ourselves. We are conscious that the conditions around us will be feeding into what the work becomes. The interaction between us creates a climate which will influence the work and its aesthetic. We are conscious that collaborative devising relies on a sensitivity to the ecology we are part of as the work is being made. Which is to say to the totality or pattern of relations between the organisms involved and our environment. There are some features of this that support the work and there are some that we face as challenges to the work but engaging with these features becomes the warp to the weft of what we are able to make. We begin with a kind of open intention and we finish a work with fine tuning it to suit a set of specific intentions but in the vast middle area of the devising process we are struggling to find the best way to interact with our immediate environment and most of all we are listening and observing what is possible within the parameters given. We have to find the balance between having an idea and uncovering what is there. We have to see ourselves as part of nature, as equal partners with the natural world we find ourselves surrounded by, even if that is a human-made construction. We might see ourselves as gardeners but we also see that the gardener is part of the garden.

I’ve tried to say this is how we have made what we have made. But how do I know how it happened? I was there but I was not able to see it as I was it. I was the subject as much as I was the maker. And I was always trying to understand why I thought in the wiggly line I was thinking in. Where was the straight line? was there a straight line? or was it more of a way that one of us was able to stop following a random path and follow instead a line of intention, a line that connected one part to another in an unbroken trajectory of unfolding meanings? Unfolding meanings. Sometimes one is simply writing to find the way forward and when this results in only one good line in a whole day of writing, well, so be it. It is not far from the tactics of the cherry tree. The cherry tree generates millions of blossoms creating a multitude of seeds most of which never propagate the species but nevertheless feed the birds and the bees and countless other creatures in the vicinity.

Alternation becomes a way forward. Sometimes you have to zigzag to find the path up or down. After watching Watermark, the film by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky we wanted to explore the properties of water. In Watermark there are many examples of the ways water behaves in a landscape. We poured water on the floor and watched it follow the path of least resistance.

There it is, a little trickle of an attempt to tell how we create or pay attention to the ecology around us during the making process. We are working with what we can pull out of the air, a kind of wild yeast that feeds on the flour and makes the bread rise.


 

"This article explores how two performance makers – Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin of the company Haranczak/Navarre – approach the rehearsal process as an ecological practice in and by itself. Drawing attention to such things as listening, openness and patience, Karen and Sophie explore how their devising strategy transcends the studio and becomes a form of relating to the world in general. Karen and Sophie illustrate their ideas by drawing on generative metaphors and by grounding their insights on their empirical experience of making Control Signal (2013) and miles & miles (2016). In the article there is an attempt to extend the dialogic nature of Haranczak/Navarre’s work into the editing process, to create, that is, an extended climate of attention." editors' note

If you are interested in our essay but can't get your hands on a copy of Green Letters let me know.

Green Letters, Performance and Ecology: What Can Theatre Do? was published online summer 2016.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, On creating a climate of attention, miles & miles, Green Letters, duet

Posted on Wednesday, 20 July 2016 by Karen Christopher

finding the end

this is an excerpt from writing done during our Roehampton DTP residency to finish work on the performance duet miles & miles (this past January)—and we still aren’t really finished—the next deadline is coming up and is backed up by an imminent performance (7th & 8th July 2016, Chisenhale Dance Space)

A resolve has settled in, both a kind of clarity about what has to be done today and a realisation of the limitations a day includes, here, with us, in this room. We are finishing. We are finishing finishing. There’s a special setting on my brain for when the end is near. Maybe there’s more than one option for this setting. Maybe one of them is a kind of panic which produces wild-eyed blindness. Another is a wistful acknowledgement of the limits we face. We have only come this far thus far and the likelihood that we can see the edge is becoming more and more real. It is possible that the unknown possibilities—including dizzying brilliance as well as dim disappointment—are blinking out like spent candles. It is in this moment that we, giggling, came upon a plan to tell ourselves everything was still possible. But how do you fool yourselves when even imagination feels bounded by reality, even if that reality is one manufactured by yourselves?

Let us say we have determined that our show is using a central metaphor or analogy or visual image, surely the possible endings must come in line with the trajectory that springs from this central post, this guiding principle . . . or maybe anything is possible.

Tags: University of Roehampton, DTP, Sophie Grodin, residency, miles & miles, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space

Posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 by Karen Christopher

importing an audience once in a while

a report fragment from our 3-day residency at Roehampton to work on finishing miles & miles

We just have to rehearse this little part and then run the whole section that it comes from. We just need to work this middle bit because the built in looseness of it means that we have to know it very well. It’s hard to convince yourself sometimes that you should learn something that might not even work, that you have to work on it long enough to get good at it and then maybe throw it out. Working on it can make it difficult to throw it out later. You might get attached to it.

She said you have to have dinner with each other in order to be able to pop in and out of just talking to each other and performing the material. She meant it was hard to say where the parts when we were us performing and parts when we were us performing being just us talking. The pressure of it, the pressure of the gaze puts us in an it moment. A moment when it might happen, a moment when the material finds its velocity, its time and place—where something takes shape, gathers a weight. A performance needs an audience in order to be a performance. Even an audience of one counts as an audience. That’s where a director comes in handy—a director is always an audience of the piece. As we are both directing and both in it we have no regular audience. that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in trouble, it means we need to supply that dynamic in a different way. This means importing an audience once in a while. It means bringing in a series of outside eyes. It means subjecting ourselves to the scrutiny of another’s gaze. The energy of the gaze is a kind of compression the gives us the right climate in which to work. It gives us a pillowcase for all of these feathers. These feathers turn into birds and fly away. These thoughts lead to other thoughts and this is the way we develop a train of thoughts—that pathway through our possible trajectories helps clarify direction and limit choices. The reality of sequence or chronology is that it has one kind of grammar in the brain with a kind of dreamlike shorthand of simultaneous knowings and another kind of grammar in the reality outside of our heads which adheres to a kind of linearity associated with speech and writing and the qualities of physical matter. The idea of being hit by a bus vs the actual bus making impact with your own soft body.

Tags: University of Roehampton, DTP, Sophie Grodin, residency, duet, miles & miles

Posted on Thursday, 28 January 2016 by Karen Christopher

What isn't it? she says it makes her question what is dance, she says it is performance art

We (people) have a compulsion to categorize. We do it for the clarity. We do it for the banishment of chaos. We do it and it sometimes clouds our ability to accept something simply because it does not fit into the accepted category, or the expected category. I suppose if there were no categories it would just be soup or sewer or jumble sale. But we spend a lot of time on the categories and then we spend a lot of time straddling them or being sliced in two by them. Those categories. But we do need limiting devices. Otherwise there is too much to look at. Too much to consider. I guess defining in order to weed out what I don't want before I even see it, is somewhat suspect to me even though I am lamentably incapable of "seeing" everything.

She wrote in her review/interview: "where does movement end and dance begin?" She is using the form of the first line in our piece, Control Signal, the one she is writing about. This is our first line: "where does one beginning begin and another ending end?"

I suppose if we can't ask these questions we can't really discuss anything. I wouldn't want to put a stop to definition or to discussion or to disputation. But I wonder how useful some of these distinctions are? My question might be: What isn't dance? And that would be annoying to quite a few people I imagine. I can tell what isn't ballet. I can tell you what made me think of ballet. This did:

One of the reasons I love going to ballet and dance is that you never quite know what you’re going to experience and Control Signal certainly was nothing like I had expected, but I had expected more dance. Control Signal is more performance art and it made me question, ‘what is dance?’ and ‘where does movement end and dance begin?’

Control Signal is interesting and entertaining, and importantly made me think, and that’s always a good thing! (link to this)

I'm worried about the exclamation point.

(photo: Andrea Milde)

Tags: Sadler's Wells, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Sunday, 2 November 2014 by Karen Christopher

Was the order meticulously planned for these spillages to happen at certain times?

Tom, a 3rd year student at University of Falmouth, was writing his dissertation around the idea of the compositional ordering of a performance piece and was very interested in the way that we chose to order and compose the various "micro-elements" within Control Signal. He wrote: At the beginning of the piece the different elements seemed quite clearly defined around the edges and did not appear to relate to each other in any obvious way. However as the performance went on they slowly began to spill over into each other. I particularly remember the first moment that "Ethel Rosenberg" was mentioned and the way that that sort of seeped/trickled/conducted into the other elements of the piece, almost like electricity, making connections in my brain which began to join all of these individual elements together.
Fantastic!

His question was: how much "control" did you exercise over this spilling over. Was the order meticulously planned for these spillages to happen at certain times? Or do you feel that this was this more something that was out of your "control"?

I responded that it was, as he put it, meticulously planned, but it was also intuitively felt. The style in which we worked on the performance meant that there was a lot of trial and error and finding out how to place little, time-released capsules here and there at the beginning and through the middle so that when certain big ideas are brought out it feels like there's already a history for them to rest on or little dormant ideas to activate. It causes the piece to assemble inside the heads of the audience. I think of it as little bits of dried moss that spring to life when watered.

Another student asked a related question during the post-show discussion. He asked about how the idea of translating internal thoughts into live versions of material related to the fragmentary nature of how the various bits arrived during the show. I think sequencing the material is the most important thing we do. And this has specifically to do with how to convey thoughts in the practical world, how to convey what sits inside our heads and makes sense within the tumult of information that sits in there amongst all of the things we know or think about. Translating that into material that conveys the complexity of thought as we experience it internally into something that can be shared with other people, even people we've never met, is a tricky business. It is easy if the thoughts can be generalised and concretised but if we want them to be re-assembled inside the heads of each audience member according to their own inclinations then it is a delicate balance. Maybe it's like those model ships inside bottles. It shouldn't be possible, but it is. It's a way of making the reading of the show belong to the audience and in this way it becomes their own set of ideas because they participate in the mantling (opposite of dismantling?) of it (the "set" of ideas).

Tags: Sophie Grodin, questions, Performance Centre, Falmouth, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Thursday, 14 August 2014 by Karen Christopher

Of Two Minds: Resonance, counterpoint, and confrontation, self and otherness: what does working as a duet mean?

Special note:

tickets now on sale for Of Two Minds: an afternoon on duet collaboration (Sadler's Wells/University of Roehampton) and the performance of Control Signal that evening (30 October, 2014) at Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis studio (London).

from Sadler's Wells' website:

Of Two Minds: an afternoon on duet collaborations

Resonance, counterpoint, and confrontation, self and otherness: what does working as a duet mean? What creative methodologies, or creations does it foster across - and among - diverse fields of practice? How is the duet different from other forms of collaboration? When does this experience of alterity become an experience of duality? And what happens then?

Join us for an exploration of these questions in an afternoon of talks, dialogues and presentations focusing on the practice of duets by scholars and artists from performance, theatre, dance, music, visual arts and creative writing. As befits the subject matter, participants will take the floor in pairs in a dynamic reimagining of the traditional symposium.

Of Two Minds will be followed by an evening performance of Control Signal, a duet by Haranczak/Navarre: Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin. Christopher -  formerly of the renowned American collective Goat Island - and Grodin explore invisible influences and the inexplicable connections we feel but fail to acknowledge.

Keynote speakers to include:
Karen Christopher & Sophie Grodin, with Andrea Milde
Ernst Fischer & LEIBNIZ
Ewan Forster & Chris Heighes
Joe Kelleher & Eirini Kartsaki
Becka McFadden & Scheherazaad Cooper
Amaara Raheem & Tobias Sturmer
PA Skantze & Matthew Fink

Tags: Sophie Grodin, Sadler's Wells, Joe Kelleher, duet

Posted on Tuesday, 3 June 2014 by Karen Christopher

'red spot on tulip' returns results and then thoughts of irritation

I looked up "red spot on tulip" because I had a bunch of white tulips and one of them had a thin strip of red that was only about a centimeter long and the width of an eyelash. I'd another bunch of tulips that were pink and green and one of them had a small red splotch which caught my eye. When you google "red spot on tulip" this is what happens:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=red+spot+on+tulip

The first thing I saw was a photo of a field of white tulips including one with a striking red spot. Another link mentioned something about a virus which gave tulips red streaks of extravagant design and I thought, oh, perhaps these tiny red spots are just a bit of a cold, a tulip virus, a flu, but just a touch, not the kind that completely takes over.

This made me think of pearls and irritation and of pressure and diamonds and how if you send a couple of elements that repel each other through a supercolider together their bond might produce a bright orange colour because they are are not compatible but they have been forced to join up and this has, so to speak, irritated them. I've seen it. It is beautiful.

All a kind of beautiful result of struggle. Or its remedy.

Tags: duet

Posted on Monday, 19 May 2014 by Karen Christopher

What never stops?

We've just posted Joe Kelleher's edited transcript of our post show discussion following our premiere of Control Signal 10 October 2013 at Chelsea Theatre. *Spoiler alert* There's some content information that might taint your mind. If you've never seen the show and want to go in cold some time in the future don't read it. On the other hand, it might give you the nudge you've been waiting for. We'll have some more performance dates coming up in the Autumn. It's not too soon to start dreaming.

Joe's piece is here.

Tags: Joe Kelleher, duet, Chelsea Theatre, Control Signal

Posted on Thursday, 1 May 2014 by Karen Christopher

Mary wrote something that made me cry 3 weeks later

The thing is, when it came in, her piece of writing, I was far away in California (looking at the sky) and the October performances at Chelsea Theatre were a distant glowing memory but the problems that were right in front of me were the ones I was focussed on and the life just before was pale or hazy and her writing brought it all clearly back into focus.

This piece by Mary Paterson about Control Signal (duet by Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin) is revealing the heart of what we were working on and the way Mary has been able to articulate her experience of it hit me like cupid's arrow, a kind of beautiful pain.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, Performance Centre, Falmouth, Mary Paterson, Jemima Yong, duet, Control Signal, Chelsea Theatre

Posted on Sunday, 19 January 2014 by Karen Christopher

we asked for a 55-foot note and he complied

We said, answer the question: "what never stops?" We said, angular rhythm, something with a 55-foot note. We said, your idea. We said, a dialogue with contamination, with influence, with subsonic itch. We said, make it vibrate. Boris Hauf made some music for us and it is good.

Boris Hauf designed music for Control Signal listen here: TOPSY hear him live at the performances in Bristol or London.

photo: Jemima Yong

Tags: Wickham Theatre, University of Bristol, Jemima Yong, duet, Control Signal, Boris Hauf, Chelsea Theatre

Posted on Thursday, 26 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

the ebb and the flow of the way it goes in these final days

Leading up to our premiere (Control Signal, preview 3rd October in Bristol at Wickham Theatre, University of Bristol and then premiere 10th & 11th October at Chelsea Theatre in London) we are taking it fine, smooth, and with raggedy edges that scratch what itches and itch what doesn’t. It is easy and isn’t easy. It is fast and slow at the same time it is trying to hold a polyrhythm in your head. I hear that we are finishing. I hear it every morning. I hear it before I go to sleep at night. We are fact finishing but we are not screaming into the finish line, we are stepping. The steps high and irregular early in the past week. We stumbled at a few steps which were just ever so slightly misjudged. Forgot this, didn’t enjoy that. It was better the second day. And we tap-danced into the third day which felt like a dream dotted with laugh. So it goes in fits and starts. Adjustments to new versions. Long discussions about the pause or not the pause and this table is not going to work no it won’t well if it has to no, actually, not even then.

I’m certain it will feel like a free-fall when we finally crack the ice on this one but we will be ready and not forget to pull our rip cords and remember to look around us on the way to the ground. I think we are lined up to enjoy it.

Tags: Control Signal, duet, Sophie Grodin, Chisenhale Dance Space, Chelsea Theatre, Wickham Theatre, University of Bristol

Posted on Saturday, 21 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

Chisenhale week in which we remember that real life continues even now

The crime that we didn’t commit, that we committed not to commit, is to stop living while we make this piece, even in the final phase in which push is coming to shove. If we are squeezed between a rock and a hard deadline it think we’d just as well get comfortable. If it is close, we’ll just cuddle that cut-off.

Working at Chisenhale was great. We were in the main space so we had depth of space and beautiful sunlight coming in through the windows. We also had jackhammers. It was time to replace that old cement with bricks outside in front of the building across the street. This was our sound track while we worked with Boris Hauf who created some excellent sound for the piece. Litó Walkey worked with us as an outside eye and helped corral our thoughts and aspirations into a more minimal package. She helped clarify the images we were working toward.

It all happened as we hoped: some time for showing the guests artists what we were doing (had been doing or thought we were doing or hoped to be doing), some time for them to explore the city and think about us working without them in the studio, some time for us to work without them, some time for them to come back and say we missed you yesterday and thought about you as we wandered the city, more time to work, some time to have a meal together. I didn’t sleep enough but otherwise, it was great. The piece has been combed and parted, we got the extra bits out. Now we just have to do better what we’ve got left. We’ll work it and run it 6 times before we go to Bristol and then it will be complete.

Tags: Chisenhale Dance Space, Control Signal, duet, Litó Walkey, Sophie Grodin, Boris Hauf

Posted on Saturday, 14 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

and we worked a long time on something we had to throw away

Two of us alone in a room and we worked on it and we played with it and people came in and said things about it. And then the next week we knew it all had to change. So easy now to let it go. Last week it would have broken our hearts.

Photos: Jemima Yong

Tags: University of Winchester, Performing Arts, Sophie Grodin, Jemima Yong, FLINT, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

There's a chair suspended between us tipping and eyes in the window of the door

Report #1 from FLINTwalls residency where we (Karen & Sophie) are working in the Performing Art Studios at The University of Winchester (31st August through 6th September):

- two people trying to help each other; two people working against the point; a chair slowly turning upside down; a frozen image of the present; a competition between body and object; a hierarchical dance; a constructed image; an image of collaboration; a slow movement towards the world; a position to wait in until the strings snap; desperation; tension; something not going anywhere; a realisation.
What I am seeing is something created between us.
What I am seeing is empty space opening.
What I am seeing is an empty chair: provision for a future.
What I am seeing is useless.
What I am seeing is force exerted to the right and left causes an upward motion.
What I am seeing is a skeleton of a chair.
What I am seeing is the trace of a craftsman.
What I am seeing is a hollow place.
What I am seeing is space carved.
What I am seeing is floating.
What I am seeing is light.
What I am seeing is caught in a web.
What I am seeing is a chair caught in a web.
What I am seeing is double spiders large enough to eat a chair.
What I am seeing is the empty space around the chair.
What I am seeing is the space around the chair is shifting.
What I am seeing is the space between us is shifting.
work continues.

Tags: University of Winchester, Performing Arts, FLINT, Sophie Grodin, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Tuesday, 3 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

the difference between thinking and making

Speaking about thinking and making to students at Birkbeck College:

I wanted to build a crying machine
I wanted to build a time machine
I wanted to build a machine BUT
I am a performance maker.

I asked a question: what never stops?

This talk is a time machine, it will take us into the future.

The difference between thinking and making is like the difference between the idea of a knife and the presence of the knife right here in my hand.

* * *

At Kate McIntosh's Worktable @ IBT in Bristol the audience, one by one, were to dissasemble an object and put one back together. I chose a huge sea shell. I didn't think I could do it. Alone in a room at my "worktable" I was faced with a table top of tools: hammers, chisels, a saw, vice grips, scissors. At first I didn't want to break apart the shell and then I really couldn't. It received quite a few bashes with the hammer without damage. I had to put it between a rock and a hard place and even then it was just thin splinters that flew up from the point of impact. Good thing I'd been issued goggles.

I would have said to you, you can't bring me the smell of the ocean. I would have said to you: how could a dry thing bear such a smell and as I hit this sea shell I stopped thinking about where it came from and I just focussed on trying to put a hole in it. I despaired of making the slightest crack when I stopped and took up a hack saw. Slowly, but with purpose, I drew back and forth across the top of the sea shell and I steadied everything and put my back into it. Some time may have passed.

All of a sudden the scent of the sea rose straight into my senses: it reached my nose but even more rapidly my heart. For a moment I was all the way there. Suddenly it was my childhood and dried salt on my skin--no sound but the waves that never stop: each wave momentary; the waves, continuous; and those days when we never left the water or peered for hours into the tide pools losing our time sense and any idea of future.

What never stops? This is a question that has stimulated inspiration during the creation of a new duet that Sophie Grodin and I are working on (almost finished . . . ). Of the many answers to this question, some have turned into material for the performance. When you see the show you will not know that we asked ourselves this question but you will see the answer to it.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, Kate McIntosh, duet, Control Signal, Birkbeck College

Posted on Monday, 24 June 2013 by Karen Christopher

Seven Falls in Bilbao

Paddy joins the show and makes a boat.

Tags: Teresa Brayshaw, Seven Falls, Paddy Mackenzie, canoe, duet, Bilbao

Posted on Friday, 14 June 2013 by Karen Christopher

once more into the canoe . . .

A state of presence with each other in our case was fostered by a relaxed way of being together and holding open for possibilities and not straining to achieve but rather finding an active search, finding a way to put our bodies into it. Not following instructions but following instinct or train of thought. Submitting to trickster. We two found an even ground between us where physical work, throwing the body into action, provides results and further direction. This time the piece will incorporate giant paper boats and miniature kites along with the usual canoes filled with water and procedures for keeping safe. Teresa Brayshaw and I will be getting into the canoes in Bilbao, Spain. We are recreating our performance duet, Seven Falls, on the last day of the ACT Festival. The programme can be seen here if you zoom in you can see us in the strip at the bottom (closing night).

Tags: duet, canoe, Act Festival, Bilbao, Seven Falls, Teresa Brayshaw

Posted on Tuesday, 4 June 2013 by Karen Christopher

something about working with people

We create a climate together.
We create a system of balances with weights that we have tested ourselves. We’ve adjusted the clocks. We designed new dishes with food from different shelves. Practically speaking, it’s like moving in with a new roommate and everything must be tested and preferences declared. Positions are taken and each of us must decide what we are willing to sacrifice.

Habits are easy to form and we form them quickly. We find what works with a particular set of people and conditions and we repeat successful combinations. When studio time is over at the end of a process it is like breaking up a way of life. Void is felt and I spend a few days lost and bereft.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Thursday, 31 January 2013 by Karen Christopher

Taking our pots to Falmouth 2nd November at Performance Centre

So Below has been dismantled and folded into two trucks and taken by courier to Falmouth. The objects sit there waiting for ourselves to arrive and get them back out of the big blue cases. This after waiting in the dressing room at Chelsea for more than a year.

The show will take place on 2nd November at Performance Centre Join us if you are near enough and please say hello afterwards.

Tags: Performance Centre, Falmouth, duet, So Below

Posted on Friday, 26 October 2012 by

So Below premiere at Chelsea Theatre

It's finally completed and completed once again each time and it's never quite the same and you can't put it in a camera or even a hard drive (though Adam Levy's done a great job with the photos taken earlier in the week at a rehearsal)--it's all tangled up with being there. The performance is not just a series of ideas, it is also being there.

At a certain point there is an accummulation and this lands on the audience in a delicate way--it wells up or it curls in like smoke. And afterwards they say all of a sudden it occurred to me.

Beautiful audiences.

Tags: Adam Levy, Chelsea Theatre, duet, Gerard Bell

Posted on Friday, 19 October 2012 by

Show me a physical promise

As we walked away from us (each other) the chair rose into the air behind us. This felt as though something were happening. Something was happening. There was alot of expectation in the chair.

And the twine creaked.

Tags: Chisenhale Art Place, Control Signal, duet, Sophie Grodin

Posted on Thursday, 27 September 2012 by Karen Christopher

Ten Impossibilities

Separate the air
Define water
Draw with a cloud
Chase a bit of sugar through your blood stream
Introduce the stars to an ant
Follow one ant all day
Copy everything the honey bee does
Interview your dead sister
Push milk uphill with a sharp stick, add it to the coffee at the top
Use a spoon to wash your hair
Breath for another person

Expand all of your water

 

Tags: Control Signal, Chisenhale Art Place, duet

Posted on Thursday, 20 September 2012 by Karen Christopher

Big news: So Below performances Oct/Nov 2012

Tags: So Below, Gerard Bell, duet, Chelsea Theatre

Posted on Monday, 10 September 2012 by Karen Christopher

today only: the first time we sit down to write at the same time

We’ll sit and write for one hour and because we will be together in a quiet place of reading and the smell of books we are expecting to have a different pressure on ourselves to spend time thinking about what we want to work on paper and what we want to shape into language to put our multi-streamed inner thoughts into a single straight grammatical line. We are attempting to reflect on our process and part of doing that will be reconstructing in words what we think happened and what we can remember and how we thought about it. What were the dreams we didn’t uncover and what dreams are still clear to us that we haven’t yet reached and what do we know about anything and what did we not find out but we still see a flag waving for if only in the far distance. I suppose there weren’t any question marks there because they weren’t really questions or they were questions but the sound of them didn’t go up at the end of the sentence. If you want to you can make sense of it even when the punctuation is very very very loose or not there at all. Loosen one part and the whole geometry shifts. We’ll be checking for structural defects at the same time.

We = Sophie and Karen
Our process = composing Control Signal, a performance work, a duet between us

Tags: Control Signal, duet, Sophie Grodin

Posted on Thursday, 26 July 2012 by Karen Christopher

thought process stimulated by footnote number 13 and NOTA c. Open Dialogues 2012

NOTA c. Open Dialogues 2012

I was reading a book along side an infuson of caffeine. I read the technical description (a footnote in the book I was reading) of binaural sound and how different directionalities and qualities of sound production stimulate the ear in different ways and how the brain contributes in the way compensation occurs in order to make sense of the sensation and I spontaneously organized in my head a section of performance in which a layering of these kinds of detailed and laboured descriptions and instructions occurs including one I encountered long ago in the old shower backstage at the Arnolfini (early 90s) whch involved an in-depth explanation of what the twin-mixer valve did--and these explanations which we obsessively collect around us as a buffer against the idea that NOTHING is within our control. This performance material played in my head and I saw that it creates an overflow which catalyses a shift in perception and I flashed on the reading of NOTA's inscriptions (one of which is excerpted in the image above) created during the work-in-progress at SHOWTiME (16 JUNE) [NOTA c. Open Dialogues 2012]. It was the memory of reading "she transforms herself, as if the light(ning) behind her eyes has changed" that caused a chemical reaction in my sequence of thought.

And what just happened as a result of the pile up in that chain link sequence of thoughts is that I had a micro-revelation: this kind of transformation is what I'm always intuitively shooting for. When people experience a shift in the reading of the performance or in a particular performer and realise that their own initial assumptions or reading of the performance or person in front of them was incomplete or is shifting, they might become aware shift is possible, change is possible, or that their initial assumptions are unreliable or mutable or based on unstable criteria as a matter of course in daily life. I guess I already knew that, but I was madly reacquainted with it this morning. An important realisation and catalyst for change is possible when people experience that kind of shift before them. Transformation is possible--a mountain can shift, a nest can be built.

Tags: NOTA c. Open Dialogues 2012, duet, Control Signal, coffee

Posted on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 by Karen Christopher

two women lying in water-filled canoes / a constant quivering / two figures surrounded by buckets of water

For me the work is about a central image I care about. The rest of the piece is a way to earn that image. There are layers of foundation and sediment around, above, and below that but somehow that is a central core that gives me something to go on . . . especially when everything is in flux (most of the time).

Tags: So Below, Seven Falls, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 by Karen Christopher

what never stops, or what feels that way

I asked myself what never stops? And then I tried to start something that I could continue long enough that it might feel that it could never stop or at the very least that it might continue for some considerable time. Standing still might never stop but it doesn’t carry that question of stopping it is more oriented toward the question “what never starts?” I felt it might be a kind of small perpetual motion that would make the viewer wonder about stopping or continuing or never stopping and so I tried this a few times. It became a small jiggle in the hips from side to side which emanated in a whole body quiver with its origin in the middle.

When it was finally put in front of an audience I was so excited I performed it at what might be described as level 5 (on a size/speed/decibel scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the loudest and fastest and biggest) when it should have been at level 1.5 or 2. I must confess to a small disappointment in relation to this. With any luck I will have other chances to keep it small.

Comments I received after the show seemed to prove this action was causing stress around the question of duration. Some offered (unsolicited) that this action was too short, some offered (unsolicited) that it was too long and one genius talked about how it sent him back into a reverse inventory of the material of the piece which now reconfigured its meaning in light of this ongoing vibration. There's definitely something in that.

Tags: duet, Control Signal

Posted on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 by Karen Christopher

Play us all the way home

While working on Control Signal in a rehearsal room at the People Show we realised we needed a cart with wheels. Something to contain us. Something that stood in for a background, a setting, a look. We knew that it looked like either hospital, a laboraory, or restaurant. We went to the restaurant supply and found it out there in the yard covered in rain, already one life behind it. We wheeled it home. Sophie accompanying the journey on harmonica.

 

Tags: Sophie Grodin, People Show, duet, Control Signal

Posted on Monday, 11 June 2012 by Karen Christopher

principles of attraction & repulsion

For 1
Move objects in the room with your voice
Move objects in Denmark with your eyes

For 2
Make a dance for 4 arms and hands that contains seaweed and lightning strikes in perpetual motion lock-grooves.

and

positively charged glass tube held close to boy's feet negatively charged his feet which caused other extremities to be positively charged and then brass leaf partiicles were attracted to his exposed face and hands

also

A mathematical dress

Tags: Control Signal, duet, People Show

Posted on Thursday, 7 June 2012 by Karen Christopher

We are here: Millennium Bridge, Gateshead

The day before our show we are checking the location and making some plans and feeling a bit cold and wondering how cold it will be the next day when we will for sure be getting into canoes filled with water. This we know. And we are trying to feel certain about everything but the only thing that is certain is that we will have canoes and they will be filled with water. Everyone at the GIFT festival in Gateshead is very cooperative. We asked for Canadian canoes. We got Canadian canoes. We asked for water. We got water. We also got mega phones. Very exciting.

Now the day of the show is here, the wind is whipping through on its way from the North Sea, the air is as grey as the Tyne, we are visible only because of our red jackets.

Tags: Teresa Brayshaw, Seven Falls, Gateshead, GIFT festival, duet, canoe

Posted on Sunday, 6 May 2012 by Karen Christopher

Tea Flower

This tea was so beautiful I took its picture.

Sophie Grodin and I just finished taking photos with Paul Williams at Abney Park so that we could document the public micro performances we were making as part of of our practice research. How do the park and the people walking by pollute our plans and temper our activations? The mind unfolds in a different way when met with the intersection of those out with the world of our investigation. Paul with a camera changes everything. Points of significance shift.

The tea was just as good.

The only failure was in not getting it from the very beginning (a tight ball of dusky green).

Tags: Sophie Grodin, Paul Williams, duet, Control Signal, tea

Posted on Thursday, 8 March 2012 by Karen Christopher

Lighting design for So Below

So slow this So Below. We are postponed again for performing but have decided to have the lights designed now so that we are ready for when we finally put this show in front of people. Chelsea Theatre provided space and equipment. The marvelous Marty Langthorne designed for us.

Tags: So Below, duet, Gerard Bell, Chelsea Theatre

Posted on Monday, 20 February 2012 by Karen Christopher

14 days of evidence: research for Control Signal: SLOW

For some reason this word SLOW written on the road has always caught my eye and in this instance provoked me to stand here for 5minutes as part of our 14 days of collecting micro performances in public places for research on Control Signal. I stood using the road writing as a caption for my action as people rushed by. Not entirely sure anyone saw this piece though many people passed on their way toward and away from Central Station, Glasgow.

Tags: Control Signal, duet, Glasgow

Posted on Thursday, 16 February 2012 by Karen Christopher

get in the canoe

Second conversation of our first conversation week. I (Karen) and Teresa attempt a dialogue about a piece that doesn’t exist yet. The plan is that I’ve organized a structure for this conversation. I was ready with it. This is on skype as T is in Manchester and I am in London. We started with Teresa showing me an iron mouse which I initially thought was a chocolate rabbit. I had made a plan (organized) to introduce a new conversational direction every 7 min. First section was free form and then it was to be each section introduced by a word or a question--however--once the mouse appeared I remembered an earlier organizational idea which was to start by saying “show me something” then this was to be continued with each of us taking turns showing something to the other. Interruptions continued and none of my plans was ever followed but we were not at a loss. We were moving, moving fast.

Tags: Teresa Brayshaw, Seven Falls, duet, canoe

Posted on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 by Karen Christopher

Work-in-progress: So Below

Yesterday, 20 November, we performed a work-in-progress of So Below at 3pm at Chelsea Theatre. We had a great audience with plenty of people staying for the post-show discussion. Many people gave helpful feedback. Joe Kelleher was there and said, among other things, something about parallax and I wrote that down “Parallax” and I asked, what do you mean by that? and he explained, but afterwards when I tried to remember what he said (because it did something in my brain) I couldn’t. I checked my notes and it just says “parallax.”
I looked it up.


Tags: So Below, parallax, Gerard Bell, duet, Chelsea Theatre

Posted on Sunday, 21 November 2010 by Karen Christopher