This 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
This is the text that Sophie Grodin and I delivered as an introduction:
Introduction to Twofold symposium
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.
The symposium was part of TwoFold, a festival of duet work in March & May 2017. TwoFold included all the duet projects made by Karen (with others) since 2009, alongside duet collaborations by other artists, a symposium on issues around working in pairs, and workshops.