New works in the making

2013 was also the year when two other project ideas started to take shape.

The first one started its life as an idea to continue evoking memory with Mnemosyne (Laura, Malcolm, and I) but more from a cultural heritage point of view, in relationship with Cultural Heritage institutions, around themes of the right to remember, the right to forget, and interpretations of text-bearing artefacts. Following a call for proposals from ODF, I received 35 hours of Studio space at the OFS. The application was in February 2013, and now, 1.5 year on (well yes, I do have a full-time job as an academic after all - that keeps me well busy!) the project has morphed into a piece mainly inspired by Christian Dotremont. The trajectory of the inspiration for this piece is sinuous, convoluted, but strangely it seems to have settled much closer to my original intention than I thought it would on the way. There was a long phase where my mind couldn't quite seem to grapple what it was that I wanted to express. I started getting interested in Chinese ink paintings and went to a mesmerising exhibition at the V&A in December. The striking discovery I made there was that in the Chinese tradition, there are 5 colours/textures of black in the ink (heavy, light, dry, wet, and charred). At that stage, I was still deep in research, and very little actual moving had occured (a few rehearsals over the Christmas break, with the textures of black in mind). Then I stumbled upon what the Chinese call Dishu - water earth calligraphy (where ink is replaced by water, and rice paper is replaced by the pavements/earth of parks). What a fabulous find that was; writing that is meant to disappear, a real paradox in our Western way of thinking about writing!

[with warm thanks to the original uploader!]

Through water calligraphy, the title of the piece-to-be moved away from Texts and Textures, my original choice and intention, onto Evanescent Inscriptions. And with that came the discovery of the Belgian artist Christian Dotremont and his «Logogrammes». Sadly I missed the 2011 exhibition at the centre Pompidou in Paris (reviewed here).
One of Dotremont's «Logogrammes»
[Courtesy of this other review of the 2011 exhibition]
Caption reads:
"Rugueuse source terrestre
De légères danses neigeuses"
Dotremont was a poet, a painter of writing. He was fascinated by the nature of writing, its materiality. That is what draws me to his work. He explored the space that resides between shape and meaning in the written word... His shapes always make me ponder, his meanings always make me smile, whether light-hearted or full of Beckettian (no(n))-sense.

So here they are, my two heros of the moment: Dotremont and Beckett (they actually correponded with one another and seemed to very much appreciate each other). And they seem to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration to me! They make me wonder, pause, consider; whatever their utterances and occurrences they remove my need to comment, they move me beyond words - with their words, powerfully!

So here I am now, in the studio, with my head full of those reflexions around the nature of writing, its permanence (or not), its shape, its decipherablity. And I'm loving every second of it!
Here are 7 short seconds of improvised sequence just fresh from last Friday... Whether it'll make it into the final piece or not, I don't quite know yet - it might... :)

The music is a song written and composed jointly by Malcolm Atkins and myself

I think I'll still wait a bit to tell you about the other project I'm working on at the moment, see where we're going with it. Suffice to say for now that it's called Avid for Ovid; it involves Malcolm Atkins, Susie Crow, and myself; and it's a collaboration with the academic research project Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers.