October 5, 2021

Im/mediations on the Lake Studios Resident Artist Blog

Check out our initial post on the Lake Studios Resident Artist Blog, sharing aspects of the ongoing research and creation process for the Im/mediations Project!. Additional materials will be added here over the course of our residency, up until the final sharing in mid December.


June 2021 @ Lake Studios Berlin
By Teoma Naccarato

This is my first time in a dance studio since the start of the pandemic. I feel pressure to move, to dance, to fill the generous space around me – space I have missed throughout the past year and a half of lockdown. I improvise without a plan, and what emerges seems superficial, indulgent, nonsensical – but I kind of like it. I shrug, sigh, shimmy, sway, groove, gesticulate, pulse, point, sit, stare. It is as if I am dancing around my kitchen while I wait for the coffee to brew – unobserved and unconcerned.

Despite hours of improv over the course of days, my mundane and idiosyncratic movement persists. My years of training in contemporary dance feel absent, although I’m aware that this understated, almost careless quality resonates with a lot of postmodern performance. In my attempt to improvise without structure, I notice patterns and habits as they surface: my right arm usually leads; one eyebrow is raised; I repeat to build in intensity and then cut to a new idea, in another part of the room. I try several times to shape this ambiguous movement into phrases, exploring shifts in rhythm and dynamics, but I arrive at nothing concrete. Each imposition of intention feels foregin, inconsistent, with the persona and logic that is arising.

I begin filming myself as I improvise, and I find my own image rather uncanny. Watching myself performing myself, or rather, some version of myself transplanted from my kitchen into the dance studio, and now onto the screen, has a distancing effect. I feel like I am watching myself from without. Curious about this, I set up a monitor with live-stream video directly from the camera, in order to watch myself in real-time – and also, to watch myself watching myself. This loop of self-observation of self, all the while being recorded, evokes in me a shift that is difficult to articulate. I might best describe it as an interplay of vanity and vulnerability – both integral to the nearly 20 hours of solo footage I will eventually accumulate.

I call the studio I am filming in the ‘white void’. When I am back against the white wall, the wide-angle lens of the camera makes me look small and far away, but with only a few steps I can enter into extreme closeup. This distortion of proximity and distance, this abstraction of site, reminds me of the notion of “no-place” coined by Harmony Bench. Bench proposes that:

No-place is an abstracted space, a blank or evacuated space. It is, in a sense, nothing. Nominating no-place as a site for dance may seem somewhat paradoxical, but in identifying no-place, I am trying to theorize the political effects of a site deployed to erase location – a site that works to render itself invisible. No-place, I argue, substantiates dance’s mediation across analogue and digital platforms.”

Bench, Harmony. 2008. “Media and the No-place of Dance,” Forum Modernes Theater, 23.1, p. 37

This, for me, is a conceptual link between the emergent aesthetic of my improvisation in this white void, with concerns related to virtual qualities of presence and togetherness in the Im/mediations project.

…more to follow soon…