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Who is speaking in Performance?, Lilo Nein (ed.), 2011
text by Isabelle Schad published in THE PRESENT AUTHOR.

Text written for an exchange/symposium at Tanzkongress 2013:
The Misery of Form

’A labyrinth is said, etymologically, to be multiple because it contains many folds. The multiple is not only what has many parts but also what is folded in many ways’, writes Gilles Deleuze in his book ’The Fold’.

When we are looking at nature, a flock of birds, the leafs of a tree, we see that each leaf is different even though they appear the same, each bird has its own specific form even when they are from the same specie. Understanding form becomes a practice of seeing, questioning reality and its manyfold meanings and folds - on manyfold levels.

When I make work the question of (the) form is as central: it is also about understanding:
Trying to understand what we see,
what mirrors reality,
what reality consists of.
...I mean: it becomes the work.

What kind of form could be found to express something around my observations, about my need to understand, my need to look for the origins of movement, existence?
The need to understand the links between nature, culture, inner and outer rhythms?
The need to bring body and thought together and create unities?
How can the (chosen / found) form carry its own meaning?
Be filled with senses without being symbolic or narrative?
How could this form be abstract enough to leave the space needed for an autonomous spectator?Transport a truth?
An abstract form, in which a spectator could find her/himself through recognition - even if recognition happens (only?) on an unconscious level.
An abstract form, in which a spectator could find her/himself through a shared experience.
How can we grasp the unspeakable, unexplainable? Find a form for it?

There are manyfold questions and relationships between the how (we work) and the what (we see),
relationships between our working conditions, working spaces and spaces of presentation (less and less is it a theatre, more and more we find ourselves in former factory spaces, offices, ballrooms, garages...),
between how we decide to work
(trying to bring the working conditions close to our own reality,
create our own working spaces,
when do we work alone? when together?
what kind of collaboration? etc etc)
and the work itself,
between how we approach movement
(functional, intentional, biological etc)
and what we give to see
to be perceived
received
by the on-looker,
between modes of production and the reality of a working process.

The form (and the format) show(s) many of those relationships that are at play and is therefore so complex,
as it should be the carrier of meaning
(versus just an empty form),
and yet reveal much more
(which might be simply the complexity of meaning).

What fills a form?
What in-forms the form?
How does it appear without just becoming a certain esthetic (or stylistic) component?
Inner-outer form relationships

If we start to look at form as interwoven with the complexity of reality,
the making of work seems to imply a whole life -
a whole (body of) work
and the attempt to resolve the question of understanding within it.

In my own work, I have been busy with the idea of the fold since quite some time, investigating the form of becoming and its manifold transformations, e.g. when I m working with groups of people exploring the relationships between embryological developments, its movement pathways, directions, folding patterns and its time-spatial proportions.
Embryology is a study of relationships within a process.
In a continuous flow and in constant evolution, movement patterns repeat themselves in its variability and difference till cellular organizations become an organ.
In each group each person is part of the whole - of the collective body and work - and in the same time subject of her/his own movement experience ; a social body that allows for subjectivity. (Utopia?)
The comparison between forms of becoming and forms of organization in society becomes a consequence.
Within the weeks of shared practice we develop scores, organize and fold materials into a choreography. The practice itself is what implies community and togetherness. We look at creative, human, (in)organic, cultural or musical processes as interwoven.
Each presentation longs for becoming a manifestation of our materials, our scores and research between form and becoming, sensuality and structure, excitement and abstraction, embryology and choreography, sound and nature, nature and culture, self and non-self, pleasure and movement. Each time the form needs to be found - that’s the work.

the form of movement
the form of the movement of a group
the form of an image of a movement of a group
as a space as an organ as an organization as an organism
the form of production of its mode of its space of its process
the form of a working method of political implication of resistance of a practice of a practice of seeing of reality

Isabelle Schad

Published 3 June 2012