De-Archiving

HomeLA: FLOOR PLANS/De-Archiving
Meg Wolfe in collaboration with Kate Gilbert

photo by Drew Mandinich

photo by Drew Mandinich

From the start, this project offered up challenges, beginning with Rebecca’s initial proposal for HomeLA (You, the choreographer, are to consider the geography of ‘home’ in its various layers and forms, including but not limited to the physical, political, social, and emotional landscapes).

A high level of unreality kicked in for me on seeing the house, bringing up anxiety and personal issues around property, accessibility, class, ownership –an expansive modern house, in a stunning location, my notions of “home” felt foreign to this space. It freaked me out, initially. I imagined well-heeled guests sipping a glass of chardonnay, while watching agile bodies in eye-catching colors, site-specifically brightening the view like a flock of escaped parrots.

And: the house is already dancing; structuring space and time and bodies moving through – lines, angles, textures, and vistas seductively draw the eye around. What could I add to this?

My first impulse was to ditch the “home” question entirely, suggesting to Kate we make some sort of polished, highly contrived lesbo-Psycho-Hitchcockian thriller thing with gardening implements – with inspiration from glossy fashion mags.

But we tossed that idea (maybe some other time!?). And anyway, Maya was going to do some real gardening.

So, I went back to thinking about home.

Kate Gilbert: The idea of home, a material extension of the body, what else is tied more to the notion of possession? Possessions tend to make me uneasy: that particular quality of their inertness. I prefer my possessions to be at a minimum, perishable, immediately consumable or highly collapsible.

I found myself drawn to the more enclosed, private spaces of this house, particularly the sleeping porch which I wound up inhabiting with Kate for the event:  down next to the kitty litter box, the washing machine, the bedroom, it has a sense of lived in daily-ness that I could relate to, felt comfortable in. We discussed the nostalgia of objects – photographs, art, mementos; and talked about tasks done at home like sorting through papers, receipts for taxes, etc.

KG: Meg came to see a performance I did at Human Resources last January where I was trying to make bigger this act of organizing thought, to expose it as a physical gesture. She talked about wanting to be completely invisible during our performance, which after seeing some documentation, I understood to mean that she might be camouflaged within the landscape of the interior.

The idea of home for me conjures memories of rape, assault and numerous robberies. In turn I often have to suppress the desire to escape when in confined spaces. Luckily Meg chose an exterior “room” (the balcony) from which I was able to enjoy an absurd pasttime: angling with string. Experimenting with length and resistance and pulling the strings as one might drive a go-cart, I fantasized predominantly about releasing anger and directing rage into a place where it might never return, while enjoying the vista.

I have been dragging around boxes full of my old notebooks, some from 15 years ago, shuttling them from apartment to apartment – with no intention of ever re-creating the dances contained in them. For homeLA, I decided to shred these notebooks, “making myself at home” in an unfamiliar space by performing this mundane, cathartic task:  releasing years of stream of thought ramblings, questions, ideas, anxieties, diagrams, lists, back-page budgets; memories of people, places, circumstances, emotions, embarrassments.

In the shredding, most of the words disappeared. I sorted the remains.

Some bits of paper were blank, some had writing that became indecipherable, and some pieces with whole words made it through, reappearing as a sort of oracle, or ghost. I refashioned some of these into collages, and mailed them to my friend Ari Hoffmann, to perhaps use as instigations for her own dances.

I related very personally to Meg’s ritual of “de-archiving” as she called it. Her ripping up of her journals was a concise metaphor. My memory is a burden, not a creature of joy. What if I were to act in such a way that the moments would burn away my sense of nostalgia as I moved along? I long to possess nothing.

For the next month after homeLA, I continued de-archiving, putting the remaining shredded notes into a blender, turning it all into soggy pulp, and recycling into a palimpsest of past dances: unreadable sheets of dense, lumpy handmade cardboard and paper like old grey paper towels.

Some have been made into amulets. (link here).

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