Karen
Christopher

and sometimes the response comes a little bit later . . .

with permission from the author, this just in from the department of "I'm still thinking about it" regarding TwoFold's performance of miles & miles:

At the beginning when you were both standing on either side of a plank, you were in your places, I was comfortable with my place, then there was a moment Karen, when I saw, I believed I saw, moving across your face, a terror of precariousness, wide open, right there, child-like terror. You were standing on a precipice and there is no security. It was devastating to me. Its hard to say in words, on email, how real this was for me.  I had to stop myself looking round the audience and asking ‘did you see that??!’. This was then followed by a booming question that stayed in my head for the rest of the performance ‘IS THIS REAL???’. 

Karen, I’ve never seen your work before, I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting you a few times and each time you have struck me as a f*cking fabulous woman (im sorry, but sometimes swearing is necessary). I know you're not asking for feedback on yourself, but it was in watching this performance that I partly realised what is so magnetic about you, because I believe (though I can’t be sure as I know nothing about how performance actually works), it is the way you appear to live the life in you so unapologetically that made me ask if this was real. 

After the performance, when you opened for discussion I told Mary Paterson my question and she talked a little about how that is what live art is often about, finding a realness. I understand this but I have very rarely ever experienced live art that felt real to me or that made me ask if what I was experiencing was real in such a sincere way. It is difficult for me to explain what that question was— ‘is it real?’.  I’m not interested in trying to be smart about it. 

Hearing Sophie explain the kind of structure you both worked to, a structure of gaps or holes, explained my experience of the performance. In the ‘structured’ sections I was kind of cruising, knowing my place, the ways I could enjoy the movement and patterns created, but in the gaps I felt like I was in a game where I didn’t know what would happen next. In these moments I would search your face and movements for clues and when I saw you precarious, searching, playing, lunging, I was exhilarated. 

It’s like it wasn’t even about the performance, it was about you, what you were willing to open up and live, there and then.

I think you're like a wild child. One of those people whose fearlessness in life I just sit back and marvel at, because your fearlessness encompasses a willingness to experience fear. Its as though you don’t need to know where the boundaries or the safety net is, you’re going to fly out anyway to feel the cool breeze, and if you find yourself without ground beneath your feet that’s what you will live next. Of course I know that living ‘aliveness' doesn’t always feel anywhere as simple as that.

I loved it.

Tags: TwoFold, Sophie Grodin, duet, miles & miles

Posted on Monday, 17 July 2017 by Karen Christopher

can't find the edges of Seven Falls

from the live performance of Seven Falls, May 2017, (the boat in the background is not Harry's)
credit: Vanek Photography

It’s hard to know when the performance starts or when it stops. With some performance there is a very clear start and finish. There might be a long set up time but it is clearly defined and delineated and the start of the performance has a kind of click. When it is over perhaps there is a bit of disassembly required but there is never confusion or blur regarding the far limit of the show margins. But with Seven Falls, partly because it is made so quickly each time it is made, and because its making and its beginning are intermingled with the circumstances of its presentation to a larger degree than your average studio-based performance, it is hard to absolutely identify the moment when the performance of it has taken over and when it has finished passing.

It finally ended after an intermission of about a week when I tried for the second time to return the padlock key for the lock and chain that secure Harry's canoe to his barge. I went to see if he was around as I’d been carrying the key in my wallet since I returned the canoe that day after the show ceased to be an organised event in front of an assembled audience. He'd been so generous to let us use his canoe in performance, loanin git to me without having ever met me before I presented myself in front of his boat with the request of it. Now I wanted to be sure to be diligent about every aspect of the return of it to its rightful owner. I’d sent him a text enquiring about how to return the padlock key. I was hoping it was a spare—but I didn’t know that for sure. I never got an answer. After about a week I went to see him at his boat in person. When I got to where the barge had been moored it was gone.

Later that day as I rode a bike over a bridge in a different part of the canal system as I glanced to the right I glimpsed a familiar distinctive paint job. I went down to the tow path and texted from outside the boat. A message came back from Harry: Just leave the key somewhere inside the boat. With that I opened the door to his boat home and placed the key on the counter feeling part of a magical world free from worry. And as I left it there the notion hit me that now the show was finally over and that I had been the last audience member as well as the last performer to leave the stage. Some parts of the work are very very private.

Tags: Teresa Brayshaw, Seven Falls, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space, canoe, TwoFold

Posted on Saturday, 3 June 2017 by Karen Christopher

TwoFold: How to keep our friends from drowning

4 short descriptions of How to keep our friends from drowning (Eirini Kartsaki & Joe Kelleher)
photo credit: Christa Holka

1.
Something is broken, the simultaneity is infuriating, each motion, each stutter intelligence and swindle—a martini or just water and olives. A hiccough might contain at one and the same time pathos, humour, mundanity and drama—the everyday trauma of human capacity—the beauty in a smudge and the glamour of a neck brace. This is how we got here and always with the tantalising question before us: how did they injure themselves in this way?

2.
They are not broken, they are inflicted on us, they will not stop until they get it right: the explanation of how they came through the infuriating noise to settle down before us.

3.
How to keep our friends from drowning takes a furious run at accelerating speeds, whiplash proof via prophylactic neck braces, wheels spin in position and we know there will be injury, the only question is how much saliva will be spent in the service of it.

4.
It is desperate, it is vociferous, it is packed with an urgency I cannot explicate, their safety measures have made me suspicious, it is an extraordinary rendition, I am all ears.

(because they asked for it)

Tags: duet, Chisenhale Dance Space, Eirini Kartsaki, Joe Kelleher, TwoFold

Posted on Thursday, 27 April 2017 by Karen Christopher

Reflections after the performance, not Q & A

During the TwoFold festival we had post-show discussions after each of the studio duet double bills. The post-show discussion brings out hidden or latent significance partly because everyone has seen the work from a different point of view or set of equivalencies or preoccupations or mind climate or condition (or what have you). What one person considers obvious may not have occurred to anyone else in the room and when those present share their individual positions on the work or its effect these ideas begin to spark associations whether in concert with or in contrast to what is expressed by others.

It is important to me that people feel they can speak about their impressions because these impressions are the specific currency of the work. Sometimes they are based in intellectual ideas, sometimes they are based in emotion or sensation, sometimes they simply spark a memory and articulating this becomes a way of reading not only the piece observed but also for the observer to become more conscious of their own observations and how they might be slanted by their own filters. We come together over the ways that we agree or disagree about what happened in the room. Also about how these differences do not describe right or wrong, only difference. For this reason it is important not to think of the post-show discussion as a question and answer session.

Those of us who have made the work and shown it on a particular occasion do not hold the key to its significance. All we can do is talk about our own point of view. Our point of view is an intimate one, coming from within the making process as it does, but it is not a privileged position, it is equal to and mixed in with the views from the bodies of the audience. As makers we learn what we have done from the audience. We know what we THINK we have done but it only becomes clear when we hear back from those who can see it from the outside. And they always see something other than what we have understood about the work before showing it.

In order to protect the audience point of view I often refuse to answer a question until the questioner has spoken a bit about the subject (or object) of their question so that we (both makers and viewers) understand what is driving the question and why this particular area within the material is of interest to the questioner. This draws out the discussion and makes clear the importance of individuals' concerns and thought processes. This is a bit tricky in practice, especially if the question is challenging the work or seems to suggest a fault on the part of the performance makers. I usually attempt a friendly counter question. If the question is something like: “why are you making that line on the floor?” I say something like: “I will answer your question but first can you tell me what it makes you think of, or why you think we are doing it?” It may require a bit more back and forth but before long it always transpires that the questioner knows a lot about what the significance of the line might be and sometimes knows something that had not occurred to those of us who made the piece. It feels important to make sure that this intelligence from the mind of a viewer is protected and brought out for everyone to consider.

I suppose sometimes these thoughts are only just forming in the mind of the viewer as the question is turned back to them and this feels exciting to me. Sometimes, in my own experience, the parts I have questions about or think I don’t understand have caught my attention precisely because they are the very things that are speaking to me—it’s just that I don’t quite understand what they are saying until I put my focus there and attempt to communicate a question or simply form a sentence about the material that has caught my attention (or bothered me).

In addition to hearing from the audience, particular people with experience thinking and writing about performance have always been helpful as part of the process. The work of  articulating sensations and of drawing lines between the work presented and the world of associations it links to improves with practice and over time. For this reason we welcome hearing from people who write about performance work. We regularly invite written response from performance writers and critics.

Mary Paterson was asked to write an overview (link to come) of the TwoFold festival of duet performances and this helps us make connections that we as makers are too close to the work to see for ourselves. After the final event of the festival I was exhausted and feeling somewhat chagrined that the final event was not as well attended as I would have liked. I had quipped to the audience that it almost felt like a performance in my living room for a set of friends. The event was a pair of performance-lecture-type presentations (see here) one of which was from a private performance that Rajni Shah and I performed weekly over a period of four years. Afterwards, Mary Paterson, who had been in the audience, commented that it was an interesting inversion that took place: a public event that felt private (due to the small number of viewers) and a private performance made public. It was a simple observation but the act of speaking that observation aloud gave a meaning to what took place that I would not have seen without her being there and making that statement. This articulation clarified something for me and sparked ideas that joined with other ideas around the subject of public and private.

What I’m saying is that I learn so much from other people’s observations.

Tags: TwoFold, duet, Mary Paterson

Posted on Monday, 20 March 2017 by Karen Christopher

TwoFold: So Below

Photo: Manu Valarce Photography 2017

(in the style of a headstone text)
In loving memory of our old performance not seen for the past four years but not forgotten though some parts may have faded. Brought to us in a former time out of nothing we here this day come back to it now and see it for what it was and see the changes that a new time brings to it. Born 2011, with us for all too short a time.

It was fine to bring it back. It was a worthy task. I found that our old habits and failures with it were still intact. We can’t remember those steps or I always remember that bit wrong and as usual Gerard is better at remembering than I am. I don’t want to say that I’m lazy. But there is some part of my brain that wants to leave a space for chance and for falling but sometimes that means I’m in limbo and sometimes that means I am failing or sloppy. Sometimes it means I am heart broken.

Some of it didn’t translate through the time gap and had to be rehydrated. We found ourselves wondering why did we did it this way and whether we should hold on to that or figure it out anew.

It is as though it Fell asleep while we carried on to other works waking up this March eve to fill the room with earth and water.

We miss her smile, her cheery way,
We miss the things she used to say,
And when old times we oft recall
It’s then we miss her most of all.

Sadly missed — Never forgotten
Together forever

Tags: TwoFold, So Below, Gerard Bell, duet

Posted on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 by Karen Christopher

TwoFold: the particularities of working in pairs

This second symposium on duet work that we have been part of (see here for posts on the earlier one) 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

This 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.

What followed (the allure of the evil twin and the dread it expresses; the non-local entangled pairs, the embrace of randomness, the thought experiment in which action here determines reality there; the sound of something meeting resistance; the deep resource of misunderstanding—conflict as a methodology; the duo in which practice comes first (in silvery outfits) in a dovetailing relationship with theory; wrapped up the next morning by a list of questions and the notion that working with another person is a struggle to articulate yourself as well as the other person and that entanglement is not about ignorance but about randomness; followed by sticky navigation, a set of relations that make an understanding: the fix is not finding an answer but in realising the problem is unsolvable; a man and his mirror; a dog and her girl and their dancing shadows; the scaffold upon which their work is made: step, feather, stitch, a game with cards; Homeworks, the interpenetration of work and home, each other; the blue masking tape at the height of 133cm from the floor turning the studio into the study transforming simultaneity from a temporal to a terrestrial state; and then all of us in a room with something to say but hardly any words to say it with) came in such a tumble it was hard to keep it in a straight line but when it was over we knew more as well as had more to know. It was not a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant's gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants. Everyone got more.

Tags: TwoFold, symposium, Sophie Grodin, duet, Birkbeck College

Posted on Monday, 6 March 2017 by Karen Christopher

without restriction to a particular way of thinking

The duet form as a topic brings us together without restriction to a particular way of thinking. It allows for disparate styles, poetics, aesthetics--as a central focus it does not dictate type in these categories.

a report on the TwoFold symposium

Mary Paterson wrote a response to the first day of the symposium, a thought-provoking list of questions and hearing it on the second day had the effect of moving from white noise to a spot on the radio dial assigned to a specific station. Reading it later I realised it developed (intentionally or not) an exchange from the end of the first day provoked by the above statement having been uttered aloud.

Someone took exception to the above statement claiming we were all pretty similar. I suggested that was not the case from my point of view, which was countered by another voice saying well, we probably all voted remain . . . (or something to that effect). Mary's writing rescues us from the reductive and not-quite-rigorous morass of half thoughts that intermingled in that late moment when a group discussion was just taking shape. It was a moment when we might take stock of what had happened during the day if there were any among us with enough focus left to find a thread through it. It was more like turning up earth in service of future growth rather than fashioning fully formed conclusions on the day. A little time and germination will no doubt pull some thoughts together. Mary's writing helps in that regard.

Mary's questions sparked by her attention to the way things proceeded through that first day reads as a rigorous questioning of method, intention, or procedure and points to a climate of attention that coheres in a room of people examining their own practices one after another, in pairs, all day long. It also makes a kind of coded message which reads one way to the people who had been present for the day and another to those readers who weren't there. And within those two categories of reader (the one from inside the symposium day and the one from outside), the open weave of it allows meaning to be constructed in collaboration with the various positions and preoccupations of readers from both audiences. It both guides and conforms, clarifies and confounds. These are questions we all benefit from answering no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing.

from Questions about Two Fold

by Mary Paterson



Who’s missing? 

How do you know?

What shape do they make with their absence?

Will you start again when they get here?

Will you feel complete?

Will you feel better?

What’s your position?



Who is your opposite?

Who is your complement?

What does your reflection say back to you from the mirror? 

Be honest: how long do you like to spend talking to yourself in the mirror?

And how long would you like to do it if no-one was watching? And how long would you like to do it if you could guarantee that people were watching, avidly, in silence, and theorising it later on in company as the performance of an alter ego?



What kind of moral licence could you achieve from dividing up your psyche into the other versus the self, the organised versus the active, the repressed versus the carnivalesque, the curator versus the artist? 

What authority do you have when you give yourself a job title?

Is ‘collaborator’ a job title? Is ‘partner’? Is ‘scientist’? Is ‘dyad’?

Is it a compliment?



What’s your word for it?


Relatively speaking: what’s your position? 

What’s your super-position?

How do you know you’re not missing any information?

How do you know you’re not drowning in misunderstanding?

What kinds of freedoms could you achieve when you know that entanglement is not to do with ignorance, but to do with randomness?



How do you know?

(read the entire piece here)

Mary Paterson's response was written for and delivered on the second day of TwoFold: the particularities of working in pairs, a symposium hosted by Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and Camden People’s Theatre as part of TwoFold, Haranczak/Navarre’s festival of duet performance (March 2017). The symposium was followed by two weekends of duet performances at Chisenhale Dance Space (London).

Tags: symposium, Mary Paterson, duet, Birkbeck College, TwoFold

Posted on Sunday, 5 March 2017 by Karen Christopher

we started it some time ago and it doesn't seem to stop

This just in from Teresa Brayshaw: This image created from our actions unleashed into the world and we have no will over it. Indeed we have no will to have one. Not our idea nor anyone's. We found something to pluck and we plucked it and the photo from 3 years ago is now beckoning young people into a theatre school in Bilbao. This is not what we intended but it is what we always intend. When we performed this piece in Cardiff last year that is not the photo we wanted used for publicity. It was chosen for us from among the ones taken a festival before. We offered no resistance even though we thought there was a better one. One in which the local humans looked a bit more enthusiastic. Now here it is again. I suppose I haven't much to say about it. Just there it is. That photo like a bad penny. Or a sweet reminder.

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

Posted on Friday, 28 October 2016 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

Coming to the end of the making

Free floating anxiety and a tremulous feeling in the legs or chest possibly a tight forehead. Only some of the symptoms of this stage in the process. Finality is chilling. It’s like a death rehearsal. My eye wanders during lunch at a table in the studio to a page we were writing on yesterday—the word “worried”  has been written with a box around it.

We are not good enough to show it but we show it anyway—hard to do—but also hard to know it if we don’t show it. We have to live with the pain.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, duet, miles & miles

Posted on Monday, 20 June 2016 by Karen Christopher

lost threads, found threads, dropped threads, threadbare

And I tell myself: I have an idea. But when I think about it the place where I am and everything that has just happened (immediately and in the past) has led to this moment. It's maybe not my idea or not just mine and maybe it's not that I have it, it is possible that it has me.

And then the landscape becomes more than an idea to me, it becomes me as there is no difference between me and idea. Constructs of the mind are only as stable as the mind and only as rigid.

And it is this that leads to the audience coming on stage: dissolving boundaries, the difference between, foreground/background confusion, stability shifts toward something not yet grounded, unmoored but trusting.

And then a condition of my life intervenes in the form of something like a dream--except that it is really happening--but happening with a twilight version of myself only half fueled and being taken care of. And then it really becomes clear that I never do anything alone even if I think I do.

And (in this twightlight condition) I looked to the right where the painted portrait hangs and there was a portrait but not the real portrait, it was the wrong shape and colour. And I looked beyond my feet to where the window should be and there was a window but it was bigger than the usual window, my window, the one I always look to. And I looked to my left where the door would be and it was much too far away. A replica of a room I recognise but I didn’t have a self myself and there was a nice man there who looked at me but I didn’t know him. He said: “don’t worry, after awhile you’ll understand.” I believed him. There was no urgent need to leave this replica of a room. I had no alternate destination in mind. I waited.

Now there's no audience coming onstage but I am there and Sophie and also the idea of not us and no decision and multiple endings and never solid and possibly not knowing our names--or at least me not knowing mine. Nevertheless, we go on.

Tags: duet, neurology, miles & miles, Sophie Grodin

Posted on Friday, 10 June 2016 by Karen Christopher

miles & miles still ending

Below is a fragment of free-writing (mine) from a gallery trip Sophie and I took in the finalising days when we were struggling to see where the piece (miles & miles) should land. We went to the National Gallery and placed ourselves in the vicinity of particular paintings with a directive to observe for a period of time and then free-write for a period of time. We were trying to loosen our minds but always in connection with finding an answer to the question “How do we end?”. The gallery was very busy and our observation included the whole room surrounding the painting we placed ourselves in proximity to.

To the promised edge, the reward, the conclusion, the absence of floor, the fall: don’t rush. To the sneeze give everything. Take the boy to the painting and allow him to stare. Take a photo for later. Run across the gallery in trainers and your noisy jacket tied around your waist. Taste the lemon. What is the sound: high giggle, shoe squeak, shoe scuff, the hinge whines full and in fragments, there was a loose ball bouncing and a pram wheel. Plastic bag noise. Tapping of soft shoes.

A rush of wings he fell 36 feet from the grid where he had been an angel hanging. When they came to rescue him he said I’m warning you, I’m naked under here. It was then they saw the wings. This was their first rescue of this kind.

We made this world. If I wish to be undone I can be, if I wish to feel afraid this is also possible. Blindness is easy even with eyes that see. I don’t have to feel a thing. This is this if I say it is. I can plant an idea I can precipitate change. I can imagine it before it happens I can remember it differently. The people walked in a line, this made them lose their way. Most of them had only seen the person in front of them. But there was another line that walked across miles with 60 seconds between each walker and when the lightning hit it only came down where there wasn’t one. The dream became the place where I could fall.

Some people learn to solve the fall by flying, others by letting themselves land and, finding nothing, never dream the fall again. The fall doesn’t kill you the dream does.

Tags: duet, miles & miles, Sophie Grodin

Posted on Friday, 20 May 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

miles & miles, the end game

Sophie and I were talking about anchors and how the anchor between us might be activated this leaked into the free-writing I did as part of our trip to the National Gallery.

The other as anchor, the anchor as safety as well as burden, something which allows you to take risk while remaining safe, wander while always being able to return home. The other as facilitator, lift, burden sharing, hinderance, weight, burden, The unit of two as both duality and duplication, divided and combined. The space between us. The holes are the space between, the spot of broken communication. Alone together, never alone, in each others business, never feeling quite right together or apart. The risk is what? the risk is cut in half by two, the risk is multiplied by two. What is the line? What makes the line? How are borders formed? What makes the margins dissolve? It’s about dissolving margins—how do the margins dissolve and is this what creates the holes? What distinguishes one thing from another ?—is it not one strand a never ending flux? Where do I end and you begin? How is the now and when is it later? If this is perfect why should I go on? If I fracture this moment does it increase the pieces of future moments? How many possible endings? Continuation. What do I live for —how long do I prepare—if I cannot do it alone can I do it with other people? When does the onflow cease? When is there a pause in the continuum? If there isn’t how do we identify and distinguish between things what if I become part of the scenery, one with the universe—how do I find an edge—where is a vantage point? How can I gain perspective? What is my name if I don’t know what lost means it can’t happen to me. The more I learn or think about the more that can happen within my experience—the moment I learn about the existence of a new fruit the more likely I am to see it.

And then the landscape becomes more than an idea to me it becomes me as there is no difference between me and idea. Constructs of the mind are only as stable as the mind and only as rigid.

Tags: Sophie Grodin, duet, miles & miles

Posted on Wednesday, 20 April 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 isn't 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: symposium, Sadlers 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, Sadlers Wells, Joe Kelleher, duet, symposium

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