from video by Lisa Cazzato Vieyra photo: CJ Mitchell photo: KChristopher

other projects

Three other collaborative duet projects are summarised here: Holding OPEN, with Rajni Shah; Strange Pearls, with Chris Goode; and Featherweight, with Lucy Cash. These projects have intentionally explored different forms: some have grown from studio-based research or writing, and each have included some form of public sharing, through lectures, talks, and workshops.

Holding OPEN

Holding OPEN by Karen Christopher and Rajni Shah is a private collaboration, from which it is possible to share something publicly. Karen and Rajni have met regularly across four years, at home or in a public space; they sit quietly together for a timed period (usually 50 minutes) and then write. The time spent still and silent is thought of as unproductive. It is a conscious attempt to remain unproductive, to not follow or develop a train of thought, to not breathe carefully or focus on clearing the mind, but simply to be. The writing afterwards is equally considered unproductive in that it is not meant to serve a purpose other than to process in the moment the silent part of the session and the state of mind it has rendered.

Holding OPEN was practiced regularly by Rajni and Karen between 2011 and 2015. It began as a meeting of two people to sit quietly together and then to write whatever came to mind. During the first two weeks of the project we met often to test various locations and combinations of time and other parameters. After we settled on just under an hour for the stillness and silence and about 20 minutes for the writing, each session was scheduled for 2 hours so that we’d have a little time to chat before and after the silence. Usually there was tea and a treat after the stillness, silence and writing.

Three public manifestations of this project have been:

21 December 2012
Cake Party (Karen's house) Rajni and Karen read two entries from their Holding OPEN notebooks to two guests.

3 October 2014
In Dialogue: An International Symposium for Artists and Researchers hosted by three organisations in Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary, Backlit, and Primary. In conjunction with this event and as part of Rajni Shah’s PhD work Karen & Rajni undertook a week-long conversation (We are Capable of So Much More: Experiments in Listening) at Backlit Gallery in advance of the symposium which culminated in a public presentation for attendees of the symposium. This week-long conversation contained a number of Holding OPEN sessions which was reflected in the public presentation.

16 January 2016
Holding OPEN
with Karen Christopher & Rajni Shah: writing, and a series of silences
A public event in the form of a workshop. A writing workshop based on emptying out. A communal gathering based on stillness and silence.
At Chisenhale Dance Space.

more information here

link to blog of collected writings here when they become open to viewing
(a bit later)



Strange Pearls (working title)

by Karen Christopher and Chris Goode is a performance lecture which grew out of a residency of open studio days at the University of Roehampton. Following the residency, the most fertile part of our report described the effect of being watched while attempting to explore ideas to generate performance material in open rehearsals. The lecture material responding to the experience of working under the observation of students, along with a few choice fragments of performative material, makes an offering with a bit of insight into a few of the mechanisms of studio work (otherwise known as practice- based research).
(aspects of the residency connected with this project appear in my blog)




Featherweight (working title)

by Karen Christopher and Lucy Cash is a project which grew out of a residency of open studio days at the University of Roehampton, looking at materials involving dependency and empathy, including the carrying of one on the back of another, performed for pleasure or rescue. Lucy and Karen have developed a performance lecture reflecting the thematic concerns of their residency.
(aspects of the residency connected with this project appear in my blog)