Wolfe and Libertad is a practice-led research project that combines choreographic and cinematographic ways of working with the aim to locate sources of female strength. Therefore, one strand of the project seeks to develop an expressive device from the kinetic interplay between dance and video projection. The other strand finds creative energy in the voice of young women instigating social change and in a wolves-inspired bodily state derived from a somatic exploration inspired by the tale La Loba -the wolf woman- presented by Clarissa Pinkola in the book Women Who Run With the Wolves (1992). Also, this tale is embodied by the dancers using sign language transformed into choreography by enhancing its kinetic aspect.
The project puts in tension the notion that being a woman is a subjective and historical construction (Beauvoir, 2011, Butler, 1990) with the experience of becoming (devenir) an animal body. In this sense, the project has a feminist approach that, beyond a critic to the patriarchy system, focuses on the forces that emerge from the female world. In this manner, the figure of the wolf functions as a metaphor, simile, and/or personification to investigate female potency. Becoming the wolf to find the woman.
1. About the artist/researcher leading this project
It is important to contextualise this project in relation to my own history and background to clarify my fascinations and different interests. My undergraduate studies are in psychology, and more specifically in psychoanalysis where I did my thesis about the experience of the body in war. While in University, I fell in love with movement thanks to discovering contemporary dance, yoga and circus and since I graduated in 2005 I devoted to the scenic arts. I co-founded and direct ConCuerpos, the first inclusive dance company in Colombia where I have been able to integrate my previous education in artistic, educational and research projects. The exploration regarding sign language and dance comes from that universe. My interest in using video projection in dance performance comes from my independent practice of making video-dances. Even though I love this art form, I was missing the live experience of physical bodies on stage. Therefore, I did a Specialisation in Multimedia Art where I was introduced to real-time controlling tools for video projection. That is why in this project I use knowledge and experiences from such diverse fields that find a way to come together around the relationship between wolves and women.
The title Wolfe and Libertad, which is the name of the big project, and at the same time, the name of the latest artistic work, refers to my own name. My mother is Lithuanian and my father is Colombian, so, Laisvie, my first name, means liberty in Lithuanian and Ochoa, my first surname, means the wolf in Basque. Libertad is the Spanish word for liberty and I keep it in Spanish since I grew up mainly in Colombia so Spanish is actually my mother tongue. I use the spelling Wolfe as a way to create a character like Libertad. Wolfe and Libertad then, are the personification of two aspects of my own identity, that are looking at each other to recognise themselves as the same potent female force.
2.Methodology and methods
Regarding the methodology, since this is a practice-led project in the field of Artistic Research, the production of knowledge emerges from the constant cycle of making and reflecting. “Academic research utilising this approach is conducted in dialogue with the researcher’s creative production, the emphasis of which is equally placed on theory and practice as well as the reflection and documentation of practice.” (Makela et all 2011, p.4) Therefore, the creation process and its thorough documentation are the main research methods, alongside the presentation of the critical reflections that shape the decision-making process. This also means that the artistic outcomes embody the answers to the research question (Idem p.5), and that this Exposition is a place were the significant traces of the process can be presented in a multimodal way.
The actions done for this project are: movement explorations (contact improvisation, somatic improvisation), choreographic work (creation of movement phrases, creation of improvisation scores and using sign language to write dance movement), experimentation with video editing and controlling tools for video projection and desk work that includes the review of diverse sources (books, articles, movies and videos), reflection and writing exercises.
This methodology responds to my philosophical and politic stance, which comes from a post-structuralist perspective and is influenced by critical theories. Therefore, the aim of the project is to approach a personal reality, a subjective truth and recognise the multiplicity and even the contradiction aspects of human phenomenon.
As this project deals with a high level of complexity and involves several disciplines, I have the following ‘renderings’ inspired in the ones from A/R/Tography presented by Savin-Baden & Wimpenny (2014):
Intermediality: in between making and reflecting, in between dance and cinema, in between presences, in between actions, words and images.
Listening with the third ear: pay attention not only to what is coherent, rational and linear, but also to what grows without being cultivated, what is wild. This notion is coming from psychoanalysis, especially developed by Theodor Reik (Lagaay, 2008, p. 55)
Openings: use free association as a way to find subjective meanings, allowing complexity, serendipity and paradoxes.
Move first, think later: this is the way to maintain the practice leading the research. If I am stuck, I go back to the body to find the way again.
It is important to say that the present Exposition does not present a linear text, but offers different paths for the viewer/reader to navigate trough the information with a level of interactivity that relates to the multimodal approach of the project. Therefore, it includes photos, animated images, videos, audios and texts in a clear but open design that reflects the world created through the project. The viewer/reader can decide what to read, watch or listen to and more importantly, at the end of each page must decide between two option to continue the journey. The pages visited will depend on the choices, which entails that some will be missed but also makes the experience unique for everyone and in each visit. Here the map of the Exposition:
Image: Structure and possible paths of the Exposition Wolfe and Libertad 2019 by Laisvie.
This project started in the COMMA Master of Choreography, a joint program between Codarts and Fontys in The Netherlands (2017-2019), and it will extend beyond. This project was developed with the coaching of Victoria Marks, Rosanna Irvine and Liat Magnezi.