Always Already

Karen Christopher & Tara Fatehi
Soundtrack: Pouya Ehsaei
Lungs: Henry Dagg

Always Already is a durational performance installation lasting 8 hours, with a thicker performance weave within the 7th hour.

Always Already is grounded in the accumulation of small actions, the accumulation of the performers’ work over the longer duration becoming increasingly evident. A single, small gesture seems insignificant but through its repetition and development the monumental is possible. Through the accumulation of small gestures mountains are moved, barriers are shifted, minds are changed. Where do patterns, differences, structures and connections emerge? These ideas relate to changes in nature, in humans and with technology — from computer code to activism, how and where is change possible?

The project explores the weaving together of plant, human and machine, including hybrids of human/plant and human/machine. A hundred lines make something functional, a structure. With the whole performance space as a loom, we work to create a 3-dimensional cloth, which suggests landscape as well as human tissue. This is not about the dance, it’s about the difficulty. The loom is a structure for improvisation, and a frame of reference, from the weaving of human interaction across historical, cultural and social frames to weaving technology as a model for the initial development of computers.

What does a dance of great difficulty mean? It is cooperation made visible, a legacy of exertion and diligence proving we came back to it many times over time and revisiting made us know it better, know it differently, think through it, think with it.

Always Already uses material, text, sound and movement. The hands take position with buttons, pedals, chords, knobs, the legs a rhythm in the bones. The brain follows sentences from different mother tongues. Translation is to point, to focus, to take nothing for granted. I understand myself more when you understand me.

Three related project elements:

— Paper leaves and other constructions, a reading companion, compiled and edited by Karen and Tara. This booklet expands on the themes and content of the project, with writing by Karen and Tara as well as invited contributors responding from outside the making of Always Already to some of the questions grappled with in the creative process. Download a PDF of the reading companion. If you would like a printed copy of the booklet, please email CJ Mitchell cjmitchell37[at]gmail[dot]com for more information. The booklet is also available for purchase at Unbound (London, UK), the Live Art bookshop.

— Fractured seeds in hearts of machine, a series of short videos, directed by Jemima Yong with Karen & Tara. Using performance material from Always Already, reconfigured for the camera, these videos are designed to be viewed individually or collectively, and function independently of the live performance. The video series can be viewed online here. A recording of the online launch event for the video series can be watched on Vimeo here.

— ALWAYS ALREADY: NO BODY IS EVER COMPLETELY ALONE is a response to the project, written by Mary Paterson. Download a PDF of Mary’s writing with accompanying images; or a text-only PDF.

Additional background to Always Already can be found in the Blog.

Always Already is supported by Dance4 (Nottingham, UK).

Find Tara online.

Performance History 

3 June 2021, online premier: Birmingham International Dance Festival / Dance4.

6 November 2021, live premier: Experimentica festival, Chapter, Cardiff, Wales.

23/25 August 2023, Horizon Showcase, Edinburgh.

Always Already is available for presentation in 2024-25.