January 28, 2016
Dear Performers + Transcribers –
Margit Galanter and Philip Huang will not be performing tomorrow night at SALTA is Timeless Infinite Light and we wanted to give you more context and insight into this situation as fellow performers. Below are pieces written by Margit, Philip and SALTA + Timeless Infinite Light. Please read them here or in the zine, where they will also be printed. We invite you to participate in our conversations in person or via email (emails listed at the top).
Thank you in advance for your creativity and engagement in the making of artistic community.
SALTA + Timeless Infinite Light
Margit’s artist statement:
There are so many different kinds of caves. This mess that you see one current of here started like the others with a quiet inner voice. Cave Forms materialized through a literal need to feel the edges of space. Wanting channels to open (porousness, inclusivity) even from the power of the hermeticism of caves, to feel the composition of opening and closing, the magical geometry of constellations and its vivid spaces in between. Yonic tonic.
Here, Sonic: an offshoot for a future audio for a sound score showings in March, for the experience, to try something out, to try IT on, for the fuck of it, for a group encounter, to enact a cave. Something like live sculptural gaffe poetics. A joint collusion with Philip Huang.
Recently I became aware of ASMR through Philip. It is an insane form of joy to feel the whispering visuals touch my screen and tickle me with gloves. I can’t quite describe the little death which is part disbelief—part ecstasy. Is this what the internet brings, the thriving that happens with audio, with synesthesic connectivity? Philip is helping Forge the project Cave Forms. We got under. There are a constellation of people whose perspectives are altering a project which, like a whale, is underwater and spouts forth from time-to-time. Mara Poliak, Frances Rosario, and I have been working in the studio at TAC. Asia and I have been dancing in a coastal cove cave. Chani, Avery, and Ryan saw with their apparatuses. Micah dazzled. Sarah, oh Sarah! We brought some people in the room to digest it with us: Elise, Jess, Geana, Denise, Brianna, Renee, Asia, Maureen. I was touched by the forts we made in the Furnace workshop. Julie forged me into performance, through Abby’s invite. It’s a big blob of praxis, perhaps a constellation. The forging is real; the forms change shape, they see themselves.
These days, we merge our sensation and design with our movement and stillness and we are finding our own fascinations. We wonder what it means to not be creative, to practice receiving being seen, even behind the material, even as we emerge. I am trying to get how this material might be read.
And here, now, an EX/peri/ment
We, communards in the ship of art-life
margit, aka puissance
This piece is not present tonight due to curatorial questions and miscommunications that came up around the participation of Philip Huang in Margit Galanter’s work. Philip’s use of provocation and discomfort as a medium has been controversial in various settings—most specifically at a SALTA’s Short and Sweet show in December 2014. Timeless, Infinite Light felt that by having Philip perform in this event, we would be tacitly uninviting people who were hurt and offended by his December performance and would be endorsing work that has perpetuated anti-black racism and ableism, and we also wanted more insight into the process that happened after Short and Sweet. Members of SALTA had conversations with both Philip and Margit about his involvement in her work, the specifics of the work, and ultimately trusted them to promote an environment of respect and care. Due to a series of miscommunications, these questions were addressed with urgency in the days leading up to this event. Despite numerous conversations, the curators and artists involved did not get a chance to come together as a complete group and articulate their views with clarity both amongst themselves and to each other.
This statement presents only a small glimpse into the complexities and ambiguities of the process of collective co-curation, and there will be further public writing about the situation, but for tonight the piece will not be shown.
This brings up many questions about curation and community, including:
What curatorial dialogues should be public?
What does it mean for curation to be in resistance to forms of oppression?
What does it mean to censor artists?
What does it mean to hold relationships and trust authorship?
How do collectives make decisions when there are mixed and different feelings internal to that group?
What kinds of spaces are we seeking to create?
Here is a story.
An artist I greatly admire was asked to speak to a national gathering of gay youth some years back. Excited and honored by the opportunity, he offered to give a copy of his book, a memoir about growing up gay in the south, to every young person in attendance. Hundreds of books, at no cost to the event. The organizers, however, had concerns.
“We’re concerned,” they told my friend, “that your book promotes underaged sex and drug use.”
“Promotes?” my friend said.
“Yes,” they said. “We’re concerned we may be construed as advocating sex and drugs if we give out your book. And our organization is already under attack as it is. We simply can’t be too careful.”
After regaining his composure, my friend gave his answer.
“I wouldn’t say it promotes those things,” he said. “I would say it depicts them. My book depicts sex and drug use.”
This was an important distinction, one that the organizers accepted. My friend went on to speak as scheduled, people loved him, but he had a profound realization which he shared with me.
“The true evil in the world,” he said, “is fearful, well-meaning people.”
That’s always stuck with me.
And in my dealings with many, many curators and presenters over the years, I see how true it is. Curators have, like anyone, a sense of self preservation about their endeavors, and want, as we all do, to do what they think is good in the world. But the consequence, when the fearful and well-meaning are gatekeepers in the art world, is often a chilling of the subversive spirit, which is to me a chilling of the creative spirit.
As I see it, there are two false beliefs happening here. The first, as demonstrated above, is the belief that the artist always promotes what he depicts. More fundamental, I would say, is the belief that the artist always depicts his own truth.
It’s easy to see why this happens. We live in a time when autobiographical storytelling is the predominant mode of performance. We have an expectation that when someone stands onstage and talks, he must be speaking from his own experience, he must be representing his own beliefs and reality. He is telling his story. It may be shocking then to remind people that someone might stand onstage and say nothing he actually believes. That, in fact, he is going out of his way to hide, twist, and manipulate his own position. That he is playing a most unfair, unethical, and dishonest game with the audience.
Shocking, isn’t it?
The second false belief is that the presenter always condones the artist’s work. This is a kind of toxic naivete, one which the audience, and the presenters themselves, must be actively and rigorously disabused of. How? Through the repeated, or at least occasional, presentation of work that is tasteless, crude, and vile. Offensive work. Work that no one in their right mind would mistake for the tastes of such an intelligent presenter. Not because such art is inherently valuable, but because regular exposure to offensive, unstomachable, morally revolting art increases our tolerance for the diversity of creative expression. Without offense, no art community can become mature, but will rather stay in an infantile expectation of pleasurable stimuli.
Unfortunately, art spaces are becoming increasingly infantile. They are safe spaces, with every surface padded. Artist Keith Hennessy posed the most succinct critique on the subject:
“Safe space…continues to frame us all as victims or potential victims in need of protection. And victims are always justified in excluding others, or Others. Safe space is the ideology that supports the prison industrial complex.”
I’m not so smart, and the thing about the prison industrial complex is a stretch, but that seems right. Lately, the shows I go to seem less like shows and more like showcases for propaganda. Artists who perform the wrong politics are labeled heretics and cast into deep Siberia.
I should know. I am a heretic. I seem unable to stop talking irreverently about sex and race and violence and rape and abortions and insanity and disability and vaginal farts and pilly semen (which is just semen that’s been left out too long that you roll with your fingers into little balls which you can stick onto your eyeglass frames). I seem unable to stop offending good people. I therefore accept my exile from this community. I accept that there is no longer room for artists like me, or maybe people like me, in the Bay Area. I accept that the fearful and the well-meaning have won.
That evil, with its noble intentions, has won.
So while I applaud SALTA and TIL for asking big questions (“What is radicalism? What is urgency?”), I do wonder, who will be left to answer but the most compliant of artists?
In the pursuit of diversity, must we conform our voices so?
I am concerned as an artist when curators delimit the arc of a piece’s full expression. Caught in the middle of ghosts, karma, and an implicit rule book, Cave Forms was questioned in a manner that did not nurture the work. Art conjures its own terms; in this case new language was drowned out by the reductionism of politix. With Philip, I decided to withdraw from the evening’s event. Cave Forms is subtle and provocatively so, and Philip has brought jewels to its development.
I am appreciative of the effort on all sides to come together in text. Through the writing, something took place which was a new form of listening, one which, had it happened more fully over time, might not have erupted in such clear lines.
To this end, I ask:
How can the radical space of not-knowing and listening that is a part of making art offer tools for new ways of thinking through in a collective process?
I am excited about the practice of “calling in” as a way to produce understanding in overlapping communities — to support cultural shifts through real-time personal interactions. For a brief description, see here: http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/a-note-on-call-out-culture
May we foster artistic spaces that allow for the complexities of the spirit.
If anyone is interested in having conversation with the Cave, or participating in a public Cave Forms happening, you can contact me directly at: email@example.com
October 8, 2014
Show-In 2014 was a process-based arts residency, presented by UC Riverside’s ARTSblock. It was organized by Brianna Skellie and myself. We sent out a call to California artists who were swarming through / near Riverside at this moment, to use the resource of the museum space and work on respective + shared creative practice. We were bequeathed two rooms – a lovely upstairs studio and the main atrium – and incredible tech support. We formalized our discussions with the microphone, and got a lot out of basic activities that engaged the procedures of making work.Thanks to the participants Crystal Sepulveda, Mara Poliak, Mary Anna Lachman, Nancy Popp, Olive Noire, Rebecca Bruno, and Taisha Paggett for joining in, and countless others who tried their best to make it there. We shared space through practice, inter-independently. Personally, I found an incredible support in the format, in our warm-ups together. Within it, an easy expansion of my nascent project arose without effort, that which rarely comes alone in the studio.
What follows are a few images from the few days, Instagram-style:
May 8, 2014
Two performance events, with the solo Relay: Discovering New Species nested in wildly different contexts….. as part of the Relay Bay Area culminations, both in Oakland; one in an old victorian ballroom The Starline Social Club, and the second in a cozy beautiful dance studio. For more information: http://relaydance.wordpress.com/
STARLINE PERFORMANCE + POTLUCK
LANGUAGE, MOVEMENT, ENVIRONMENT:
SATURDAY MAY 31, 6:30 PM
STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB, 2232 MLK WAY, OAKLAND
Buy Tickets in Advance: https://www.artful.ly/physical-intelligence/store/events/3239
An evening event. How does the constellation of events in the room relate to years of research in movement, language, and place? You will enter a room as it is being tuned. You will see the full work of Relay: Discovering New Species. Together, we will share a meal, and from here, witness a tuned art of conversation. Multi-modal event in the beautiful ballroom of too-fast-gentrifying Oakland.
STRAIGHT UP PERFORMANCE:
RELAY IN THE STUDIO
SUNDAY JUNE 8, 4PM
ELLEN WEBB STUDIO, 2822 UNION STREET, OAKLAND
Buy Tickets in advance: https://www.artful.ly/physical-intelligence/store/events/3236
Relay: Discovering New Species will come back to the simplicity of the space where the project rehearsed all these years, with presentations preceding by poet Denise Leto and performancer Violet Juno, and a small reception to follow the event.
Purchase tickets in advance, or at the door.
Starline Potluck Picture is a video still by Marin Media Lab from RELAY: DISCOVERING NEW SPECIES in NYC at THE LOFT, presented by Daria Fain + the Prosodic Body. People talking before the show.
January 10, 2014
Here are some notes on an ongoing enquiry.
“A light will come and it is brighter than you imagine” – Dennis Leri
Vital Nourishment is a life-art practice. A home arts practice, an arts world practice. The term VN is a text source (Francois Jullien), art-life approach, and an encompassing strategy.
Yang Sheng is a Chinese expression which is translated as vital nourishment, or “nourishing life.” Yang Sheng was exhaustively researched by possibly the world’s first anarchist, Zhaungzhi (contemporary to Aristotle). Through deepening my understanding of this term’s meanings and connotation, I am further achieving what I seek to create as a model for my artistic work and research practice.
How can art feed the whole of a life? How can one’s vocation feed the art, feed the life, the intellect, the personal practice, friendship, kinship, the body-person, the inquiry, in community, in mutualism? What does it mean to let the intention be coherence, that the various parts of living all feed the whole? As stated by Sabine Williams: “in balance with the macrocosm for the benefit of the individual body, the body of the family, the body politic, and the body of the cosmos”
In the end of 2012, I made an Arts Manifesto, which was a source for future practice: MG Manifesto Draft 12-12
Soon thereafter, I began to engage in a wildly healing process of fertility. Self research; experiential and embodied research. There is a book to write here.
In 2013, I deepened the enquiry through a performance poetry project on Yang Sheng. In a piece called “Pure Process”, I used spontaneous movement and stillness as an embodied basis to examine a constellation of phenomena that would offer a view on Nourishing Life. This was my contribution to Eleni Stecopoulos’ Poetics of Healing Symposium. Through the project, I found the revelation of relation between nourishing one’s body and nourishing one’s self.
I also found the importance of anchoring oneself in the environment as a practice for performance, to nourish the self that will then present, but that is another story which leads into one of the bases for the project which was its counterpoint, Relay.
The Chinese term for body shenti, is more like “body-person,” no big divide. That the vessel is a part of the environment and the procession of qi. However this sense of polarity arises in the imbalance that might come not enough essence or bloodfulness to harmonize with the magnetism of the earth and the electro expansion of the forces of the sky (early notions of mind-body split). The kinds of things that emerge in the contemporary life. Hence, back again into the practice of nourishing life.
“Your life has a limit, knowledge has none
If you use the limited to pursue the limitless
You will be in danger of exhaustion”
Searching for the more fluid (therefore less reified) action-process in all realms in VN. How to induce subtlety of breathing, harmony, and feeding to be coherently integrated into philosophical reflection and daily activities? And thereby feed the quintessence in myself …
One blog on the subject: Vital
Back to Archive
December 31, 2013
I wrote a Menifesto for art two years ago in the end of December, sitting in the living room of my dear Aunt Patti’s house. I never put it out, but that month of daily art practice for the sake of it in the early morning was like a glowing, growing cauldron from which so much has sprung. One of the days, this came as I was writing.
* * *
MG Arts Manifesto – Draft
There is a vital aspect to creativity that compels me to define its power and what’s at stake.
To even use the singular word art for this comes with so many connotations that perhaps the word ARTS is more fitting – it invites the multiplicities of the nature of creative energy
Indeed there are more words that need to and will come as these fields further develop in given times and places
ARTS are a territory for instantiating the richness of imagination, the fertility of “living movement imagination” (one of those words yet to be), and of what people are here to say.
As we are effected by social, physical, structural, and economic forces, with the forum of ARTS there are avenues for us both to widen, expand and stretch these realms, to include their cosmic counterparts, and indeed the converse, see with stark clarity their more intimate manifestations of vastness (e.g., ego, needs for community, order, and dissonance) thru the delicacy of our sense of experience from a developed or rarified view.
Part of how we make is through our practice and our practice in getting familiar with fields of difference, variance, energetic shift, and stability. And through these, we compose forms, both from and a part of formlessness.
We all have different languages to describe and define what we see, and our making is a process of making new language, in multiple forms.
ARTS allow then for autonomous expressions that connect. In part, this comes from the fact that we are constantly composing ourselves in our environment, and through ARTS we are distilling specific constructions through a rarified and practice-based version of this operation.
ARTS are integrative process and most potent when they serve the mind, body, being, health, relationships, politix, heart, all, and even if some of these aspects are hidden at a given time, and others rise more into view, this is the precious nature of making, that we materialize a form from the rich underbelly of our furnace.
April 8, 2013
Kehinde Wiley on Radical Presence: … “what I wanted was to create a state where grace was allowed, where you simply celebrated being.”
March 13, 2013
I wrote a few paragraphs as an introduction for the Ecopoetics Gathering, and looking back on it, I like what it says about the embodiment of language in my work, so here it is:
* * *
I have danced since I was a child, and since the ‘90’s my research and work has been situated in experimental and improvisational dance, as well as community activism and the healing arts. As a movement educator in the Feldenkrais Method® and movement arts, I am consistently fascinated with the ways that specificity and prosody of language effects one’s state and movement integration, how using the voice can unleash creative power, and how language can be a bridge for thought and action. As a practitioner of qigong, acupressure, and Chinese energetics, I have been drawn to the poetry inscribed in the body through these traditional cosmologies. Starting in 2003, I began a study of two fields of research, embodied language and later what came to be coined dance poetry, the former of which I formalized through a Master’s Program at Gallatin-NYU in Movement Research. The potency and prism of movement and language has become a primary pursuit.
Through my research, I have been focusing on the implicit connections of the bodymind/ environment. The projects share in common extensive research periods that were integrated within the movement-based, multidisciplinary public events, often site-based. Most of my movement work tends to have a language-based component, either in the form of the creation of a ‘zine, published document, weblog entries, live writing, and speaking in dance. This research and text aspect of my work is central, as I am committed to public discourse in dance. I have found that rather than pursuing text about movement, my interest is with materials and words that come from and through movement research, which have a potency that is unique to the context and situation. More information about these projects is available online: www.margitg.wordpress.org/archive
Currently, I am working on a project called Relay, inspired by the poem Concordance by Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge, with images by Kiki Smith. Relay is a multi-phased experimental forum that invites conversation between text, movement, and context. The piece attempts to expand and integrate – literally moving words from page to lived stage – by transducing and inventing new forms. Through subtle means, words can literally change our neurophysiology, our chemistry, and our mood. This aspect invokes questions I have around movement, language and performance – How to bring radiance to a performative context, so that the text does not rest in the mental operations, but rather is full-bodied and multisensorial? How to compose hybrid forms that give space for a coherent aesthetic? How can language connect?
Over the course of the years, I have curated and founded events that deeply examine the mosaic of movement and words. SEEDS Festival (Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance, + Science) was a multi-year international festival and research organism that incorporated workshops, panel discussions, publication, and performance to experientially research ecology through interdisciplinary arts. As a director and co-founder of SEEDS, I was often envisioning and composing the event, and in the final year I participated as artist-resident, as well. This housed a longterm collaboration with landscape architect Margot Lystra, an investigation of public site through dance and design, which we call Withness. As co-curator for the Movement Research Festival NYC 2005, I gathered artists internationally to present panel discussions and live experiments, incorporating language into dance processes. Additionally, some of the initial ideas for Relay sprang from a mini-festival I founded in the Bay Area, Words and Deeds: Experiments in Language and the Physical World, which I co-produced through Art Workouts with Abby Crain. This event brought together artists from various disciplines to teach the public about movement and language.
The group research feeds the understanding, and the (trans/inter)personal research in turn feeds the collective discourse and overlapping contexts from which the questions originally sprang. Roiling. Vaporizing (….) …Like gas
February 26, 2013
I just spent a weekend immersed in poetry and poetic experiments, through the Conference on Ecopoetics at UC Berkeley. It was an inspiring event, particularly to encounter practitioners from around the country who are investigating the interrelations of words and nature through the lens of aesthetics, poetics, social intervention, direct action, conversation, academic inquiry, and the nature of things. Eleni Stecopoulos and I presented a collaborative performance presentation as part of the Conference, which was entitled Triple Burner. Through it, we wove questioning, reading, speaking, dancing, and shared practice. The presentation was an investigation into realms such as Chinese energetics, healing and nourishing life, Greek concepts, the power of movement, words, and the Feldenkrais Method all through the lens of this great meridian Triple Burner that has no association with a specific organ, rather process, exchange, and interactivity. We felt that the subjects of our presentation would instantiate inquiry and ecopoetics as an operation and term. Our sources were three books that we have in common in our research: Robert Kocik’s Rhurrbarb, Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge’s Concordance, and Shigehisa Kuriyama’s The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine. Here is an image from the cards I made as part of the presentation:
Some of the highlights from the inspired and extensive resources I picked up through the conference:
Panel organized by Office of Recuperative Studies
Learning about incredible presses, such as Brenda Iijima’s http://yoyolabs.com/ and Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s http://www.corollarypress.org/Corollary_Press/Home.html
The collaboration PARK (dance/poetry/photography)
Experiential Lab! Groundworks: http://ecopoeticsgroundwork.blogspot.com/
and Eleni Stecopoulos’ first reading on ritual landscapes – looking forward to more.
Around the time of this conference, I have been reading Jeremy Narby’s Intelligence in Nature. Here is one of the many passages from it which seems quite relevant to the conference mentioned above: “recent research based on brain imaging shows that language is handled by many different brain regions working in parallel. As Susan Greenfield writes in her book Brain Story: ‘One of the most startling discoveries from such research is that saying just a single word causes a unique pattern of activity to ripple the cortex. The experience of the word ‘screwdriver,’ for example, causes a part of the brain called the motor cortex to light up. The motor cortex is involved in controlling movement, so perhaps this word triggers memories of handling a screwdriver to become active…Language…involves an eruption of associations and memories that are different for every word.'”
December 15, 2012
When I memorize this poem, it’s as if it lives off to the lower right in my imaginal field of vision. I look there, an inadvertent movement, to a sense of the page over there, as a spacial composition – stanzas, spaces, the turning to the next page – as a guide into the chaotic furniture in the room of my memory. Its becoming me, these lines, these layouts, Kiki Smith’s imagery. And with that rote there is a danger: the parts of writing that I can now just say, that roll off my tongue, when I do do this, they have lost some of this readily available formation-seeking, as if the words are emanating from my mouth, rather than a kind of place that is more mind-body/space. I suppose I can access something more integrated, actually, which when I do can be a helpful thing, because otherwise, when I emerge from this blurting indulgence of the text, I am lost. I have no pages, no corners of eyes, no formations like edges of seas to land, and I’m flying. Flying is really a pleasurable thing, if one could feel oneself while doing it, but rather, this flying is doing-without-thinking and perhaps doing-without-consciousness. So, what happens is there has been some kind of separation. Then I return, and find my way back into this bodyscape, which is a inscripted landscape that lives within and between in the spheres of things like “body” and “mind” and “memory” in the interstitial places of transit, where there is movement and the unfolding of words that are in fact the words of This poem now.
And then gaps.
and then returnings
And then back into flow
I am at the place where two of the three segments of the poem Concordance are within and can come through me. The meanings shift over time sometimes. I will realize a configuration of phrases perhaps meant it like this, with that word actually working like a very rather than an adjective, whereby offering a whole other piece to the story, like:
“Yearning can’t be split and the animal lost, ahead of time”:
Is it that the animal can’t be lost, that we are incapable of losing our animal nature, which would put us ahead of time, rather than in the here-ness of “for the time being”?, or rather that the animal did lose, because it was ahead of time…. – …a kind of melancholy about the inability for time – our our human measurement in the experience of desire as endless and eternal, and not only, with that, too this animalness and animal time gone? Are we ahead of time, and with time is it always about being ahead or behind since it implies a kind of counting, which has such a danger of comparison? And of course there are other interpretations.
Sometimes the intention to memorize feels like a distant institution that places weight on me and goes against the flow of expression and listening, at other times it is a doorway in to the vastness of this poem’s landscape.
December 11, 2012
Rachel Thoele took some beautiful pics of Relay: Living Things Shine On back in July at The Garage SF. She manages to make art from the art that makes it become something other. What a treat! Here are some of them: