"No Self Can Tell"
(last edited: 2022)
author(s): Laasonen Belgrano, E. and Price, M.D.This exposition is in progress.
The research explores 'ornamenting' as a transferable method in inter-disciplinary studies, inter-faith dialogues and artistic/therapeutic practices. Adapting techniques of Renaissance musicology, the processes we have developed de-create and re-create vital connections. It is a communica-tions strategy for times of crisis. Starting with simple sonic relations we extend the method far be-yond its traditional musical setting. The practice utilises 'Nothingness' as a component of creativity, providing a novel response to figurations of nothingness as mere negation. Preliminary results sug-gest its potential as a counter force to nihilism and social dislocation.
The work divides into four areas. 1. Primary research on relationships between sound, meaning, and the sense(s) of self, exploring how sense is made of Otherness via processes akin to musical praxis: consonance, dissonance, 'pure voice' and ornamentation. 2. To apply this new perspective to a range of exile experiences – mourning, social disconnection, ex-communication and aggres-sive 'Othering'. 3. To investigate the cancelling of normal time-conditions in crisis situations such as trauma, dementia, and mystical experience, relating non-linear temporality to creative practice and healing. 4. To widely disseminate our results and methods as contributions to the methodology of artistic research via journal articles, live workshops and performances, and a book of original, praxical, testable, and teach-able interventions.
Even with a healthy suspicion of 'cultural universals', there is a notable ubiquity to the relation between song and death. Peoples seemingly unconnected as the Plains Nations of North America, the Urubu Indians of Brazil, Japanese Zen Buddhists, and the Irish Celts have deep traditions relating voice and Death. The most obvious basis of this association may be the shared physiological phenomena of 'the breath leaving the body' – a process necessary to life when accompanied by breathing in again – but which also marks 'the end of a life'. Taking the popular Greco-Roman myths of the nightingale as a starting point or our performance, we are to engage an audience in an exploration of the aesthetics of the Death-Song.
As those familiar with end-of life situations know, encounters between life and death are not always occasions of silence: there may be tears, cries, raving, even laughter. Such expressions may be part of 'a good death'. What is certain is that even with the utmost fore-knowledge and preparation the reactions to death are unpredictable. The medieval ars moriendi pamphlets were helpful but necessarily incomplete for the same reasons that the contemporary 'professionalisation' of end-of-life care can never be adequately codified. Living and dying are arts requiring ornamentation and improvisation.
Our ideas for a vigil-performance ritual emerged via a series of dialogues and improvisations starting in the fall of 2019. An 'ornament' in the musical sense, the research is shaped by personal closeness to Death; by an exploration of Nothingness; by the uncertain landscapes between living and dying; by an exploration of the borders of the real and unreal. It is a conversation between two performance philosophers: a singer, and a poet; between music and word. The only axiom we accept in the research is that living and dying are not antithetical but rather mutually implicative.
Given the complexity of the material and the historical trajectory we wish to pursue from the early Renaissance to the present day, the performance will necessarily be a demanding one. If the audience is willing we would present the material as a far-from-silent vigil structured around a song or poem at each hour, beginning at sunset. There would follow a reflection and discussion period, then a short break before the next piece, and so on until sunrise. Needless to say the dialogic and improvisational content of the material will bend this framework as the ideas and performances find their own lives and deaths.
Vad innebär det att gestalta Guds kärlek?
Denna inledande fråga upplöses i nya riktningar och förståelser: 'Gestalta är att leva'. 'Gestaltande är en människas idé om Guds kärlek'. 'Gestalta är att skapa skönhet' och ’fördjupad medvetenhet om små rörelser'. 'Gestalta innebär att inkludera'. 'Gestalta är att vara Kristi tjänare'. 'Gestalta är ett tillblivande'.
Ord har under våren 2020 'tagit gestalt' genom existentiella samtal mellan anställda och ideella i Carl Johans pastorat i Göteborg. Dessa ord och tankar formar grunden till en serie konstnärligt gestaltande (existentiella) laboratorier, som i sin tur får resultera i en performance installation med premiär under 'diakonins månad', september 2021.
Western thought emphasises rival schools winning or losing debates: it speaks of knock-down arguments, fatal inconsistencies, of destroying, attacking, and defending positions. 'Philosophical triumph' is a sublimated mode of WOUNDING and SHAMING any opposition. The ancient Greeks used the word aischuné to talk of an opponent being 'put to
shame' – a feminine noun. The 'loser' of an argument is (dis-)figured as less rational, less human. Their Otherness is amplified until they capitulate. Canonical references to thinkers as midwives, nurses, or mothers of ideas are rare: such metaphors imply intimate co-operation and the fleshy, impure materiality of thought. Yet attempts to vanquish the canonical masculine-dominator style of thought with some version of a non-wounding, compassionate mode of thinking readily mimic the power-structures and gender-binaries they seek to oppose. This 'war-model of thought' is ultimately nihilistic – it characterises differences as antitheses, then seeks to destroy the 'opposition'. Such is the problem we seek to address.
During the last two years we have explored philosophical, theological, and aesthetic issues via a praxis-led 'Ornamentation' method. Starting from NOTHING, we allow elements which seem meaningless in themselves to ‘flash up’ (Barad 2017), entangle through intra-action,
accumulating and complexifying the material 'on its own terms', becoming poetic, scholastic and ecstatic. Unknown to one-another, neither contributor has any 'territory' or 'position' to attack or defend. This is not a dialogue, a dialectic, nor even 'two persons making something together'. It is a trans-human performance, a method for allowing the space and material between the contributors to “endlessly open [...] to a variety of possible and impossible reconfigurings” (Hinton 2013:182); “blasting, bursting open, and scattering […] to effect a complete reorganization of meaning” (Barad 2017:41); becoming a/live environment - an ecology in which the world can create itself.