“This is the moment of sculpture for us where we carve out what is not the performance”.
This residency supported the late stages of composing the 8-hour performance installation, Always Already. This was presented online on Thursday 3 June 2021. In these final stages Karen Christopher & Tara Fatehi refined their choreography. They sought to distill a large quantity of material into a handful of significant moves that signal towards their underlying motives.
Weaving revolutionised the textile industry in the early 1800s, and subsequently influenced the early development of computing. Commercial Jacquard looms were programmed via punch cards, the prototype for computer programme cards. The binary foundations of computing can be related to the loom’s warp and weft. These histories significantly affect the ways we live and interact, but often go unnoticed. They inform the project’s foundation.
The 8-hour duration of the piece references the length of a working day. During the 6 hours leading to the embedded performance they commit themselves to the slow progress of a minimal and repetitive movement sequence interrupted by work of warping the room.
Here, Karen speaks more about the project:
The words of weaving artist Anni Albers brought our attention to the dynamics of weaving: that it works with an alternating combination of rigid and submissive materials, that a whole is built of small parts through a time-consuming process. Weaving concepts have been our structure for improvisation and a frame of reference as we conceived and developed the project.
Additional project research has been focused on issues of plant/human/technology hybrids, e.g. seeds growing within the body; gut flora; medical implants; machine operators. And we have composed directives to generate performance material e.g. ‘By taking control of your breath, override the automatic process of normal breathing, and convert yourself into a kind of conscious machine to stretch a story to its longest length.’
The ‘Paper leaves and other constructions’ reading companion accompanying the project features four people each responding to one of three questions we have been working with: “Define question,” “What is the difficulty in a dance of great difficulty?” and “Can you now sing of humans becoming other things?”
Related project elements
- Paper leaves and other constructions, a reading companion, compiled and edited by Karen and Tara. This booklet expands on the themes and content of the project, with writing by Karen and Tara as well as invited contributors responding from outside the making of Always Already to some of the questions grappled with in the creative process. You can download the reading companion here.
- Fractured seeds in hearts of machine is a series of short videos directed by Jemima Yong with Karen and Tara. Using performance material from Always Already, reconfigured for the camera, these videos are designed to be viewed individually or collectively, and function independently of the live performance. The video series can be viewed online here.
- ALWAYS ALREADY: NO BODY IS EVER COMPLETELY ALONE is a response to the project, written by Mary Paterson. Download a PDF of Mary’s writing with accompanying images; or a text-only PDF.
Performance installation by Karen Christopher & Tara Fatehi.