Dylan Spencer-Davidson: Untitled (dirge)

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Dylan Spencer-Davidson's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents. 




Untitled (dirge)

Dylan's question: How can we tend to all that is still unspoken?

Dylan's introduction: A dirge for one or sixty bodies. 

Soon this sixty-stomached creature will mutate and we'll tangle ourselves into new forms. But first: some footnotes. Here is an invitation to take these twenty minutes as time to process. Meaning: to hold space for the grief, the gratitude, the incompleteness, all dashed hopes and lingering discontents.

Hubert's report: The audience enters a bright space filled with sunlight and settles on the floor leaving empty space in the middle. Dylan is kneeling off-center wearing a close-fitting dress. The sound resembling a simple sine wave ascends through the speakers after a moment of silence. New layers of sound emerge and create a sonic ambient, initiating a choreography of gently prolonged movements. Dylan leaning to the closest members of the audience establishes and holds eye contact and slowly begins to crawl. At a certain point he locks his eyes on Maoyi (Peixuan Qiu) who engages with choreography and mirrors Dyland movements. Within this dance-like moment Dylan’s posture becomes more erect, slowly reaching a standing position, while Maoyi sits on the floor and disengages. The music becomes more rhythmical and energetic. Dylan’s eyes are locked now on Iga Świeściak with whom they start swiping their bodies on the floor and dancing as if stalking, hunting each other.  The music stops, Dylan and Iga settle comfortably on the floor in front of the TV screen and watch a video piece which marks the last part of the performance.

Momtaza Mehri pointed out to the word “dirge” which immediately directs reading of the piece as a form of lamentation and evokes ideas of grief. Moreover “dirge” brings a certain expectation of sound and silence at the same time. The silent moment at the beginning of the performance in that perspective was an interesting choice as it worked as an invitation to think of an idea of a grief as a container. Momtaza was interested how other people were involved in the performance, which was opening different pockets of energy during the unfolding of the performance. Referring to the sound Momtaza commented on the animistic character of the piece, which was present on the sonic level, but also in the written abstract and the choreography of almost predatory and stalking movements between the performers. The smooth transition to the video and easing the choreography into sitting together on the floor and looking on the screen juxtaposed with various energies activated through body movement expanded on the forms of grief and mourning.

Ana Teixeira Pinto observed that adding a word “dirge” to the title and framing piece as a funeral lamentation was interesting because a lot of choreography brought to mind mating rituals. Paradoxically, in this case, the ritual looked like being performed by the species which are unwilling to mate and reproduce. In broader scope the image of such species in the world leads Ana to further reflection on failed attempts to create community. Bringing back the notion of lamentation Ana spoke about the historical moment of the Weimar Republic in Germany as analogous to the present one—moment of the world full of vibrant possibilities, but the one which seems to be closing in and turning hostile. Referring to Georgees Didi-Huberman Ana reflected on the persistence of apocalyptic themes and survivalist aspirations in contemporary culture noting that the opposite of individual survival is not extinction, but the survival in terms of plurality.

Phanuel Antwi proposed to read the performance through the incompleteness theorem of  Ludic Gödel. Phanuel referred to his own work on Gödel’s theorem pointing out that within the space of mathematics and logic incompleteness theorem was a way to break with the Western concepts of coherence. The space created by the performance, one which allows for grief and societal mourning, has something of not allowing itself to be completed. Gödel’s theory helps to zoom in on how different ideas and systems can exist, but also how life can be practiced differently. It emphasizes unpredictability, while complete systems aspire to probability which brings the burden of violence upon all of us. The systems aspiring to completeness are never able to prove their consistency and thus they necessitate violence and coercion in order to ensure their completeness. In this context mourning can be a way of bridging towards formations and forms of living otherwise.

Dylan Spencer-Davidson's "Untitled (dirge)" was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 14th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed