Teoma Naccarato


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.
https://lakestudiosberlinblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/naccarato-maccallum-june-dec-2021

Entry One: WHITE VOID

June 2021 @ Lake Studios Berlin
By Teoma Naccarato

1.
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.

2.
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.

3. 
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.

4.
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…


Collective traces from IDLE are now online!

The initial iteration of IDLE spanned twelve hours between August 22-24, 2021, and involved a series one-on-one encounters online, in silence and stillness. The invitation was simply to arrive, and stay, letting moments pass between us, listening to our silence, sensing without seeing, sharing without speaking, holding space for each other, virtually.

Following each encounter, visitors were invited to share a ‘trace’ of this experience – in words, image, sound, voice, video, etc. The growing collection of traces is now available online at: https://immediations.com/idle/traces

These traces enact a collective archive that not only documents what has passed between us, but also, offers entry-points to re/engage with qualities of togetherness in virtual spaces. In the coming months, resonance from these traces will be folded into the ongoing creative process in the Im/mediations project, being developed in collaboration by Teoma Naccarato and John MacCallum.

The calmness the image brings along is already a very nice welcoming to the space, an opportunity to breathe. It was at the same time a weird experience as the image was to me also creating a virtual reality atmosphere. So I was not sure I was in front of a virtual avatar or a real human being. The image for moments was getting pixelated so it amplified this feeling. Though, it was not creating a distance to the experience or to the calmness it was communicating. As when one looks in the eyes at somebody else for long minutes, the face starts reflecting oneself. I was not sure I was sensing her emotional state through little almost imperceptible gestures, or if it was me. Her contemplative state confronted me with my own stressed and tired body, after working those weeks so much. My tension became even more evident when faced to the opposite. When the image disappeared and I stood in front of myself, it was at first a bit uncomfortable, and I immediately judged it, but soon I felt compassion. I didn’t see the stress I was feeling but a calm image as well.

Nicole Michalla

Alberto Gnola

An image as I am in the mountains right now, very isolated from the life I have in Paris.

And 2 words perhaps: silence and care. 

Having shared 10 minutes of silence with you felt like being here in the mountains in the pyrenee area in South of France and hearing barely the sound of the sheep’s bells. 

I had been distracted by my son while we were looking at each other, he woke up and my partner needed to soothe him back to sleep. That as well is part of my experience of this past month:  silence and care. 

My thoughts are not organized, I apologize about it. I am taking time to listen and not to think.

Sarah Fdili Alaoui

Having interacted with you virtually, the whole experience felt rather familiar to me at first. The experience of rushing into a video conference and turning myself “on” for the camera. Of course, it only took a few minutes for me to find myself in unfamiliar territory, as the normal warm-ups for a virtual interaction, the  greetings and catch-ups were off the table. Idling with another person face-to-face in silence is an intimate act or an intimacy creating act. I began to feel rather vulnerable and uncertain of what was going on and what I should do. I became fidgety, or perhaps I only felt fidgety given that you seemed so still. As the nervousness gradually dissipated, I began to wonder more about who I was looking at, then how and whether it really was a question of who I was looking at or if it was a question of who I was piecing together. Following your abrupt departure, I made the recording attached to this email…

– Muindi Muindi

When you logged off a few minutes ago, I was startled to be staring at myself again. These ten minutes passed more quickly than I’d imagined ten minutes last. But measuring time is never my forte.

Thank you for these moments of stillness. They felt less lonely, and more focused, than the stretches of minutes (hours/days) in which I’ve accidentally done nothing. The pandemic has really messed up my already-shaky handle on time.

Before our encounter, I was scouring the internet for kf94s, so that my partner will be safe when he returns to the classroom next week, and wondering what “safe” means in this context. I was also rewriting sentences, in my head, for the manuscript that I’m woefully behind in revising; thinking about whether to move halfway across the country next week, as I’ve planned, or if the rise of delta means I should delay that; and periodically trying to work out where I went wrong in today’s crossword puzzle.

And then I clicked into our encounter, with you looking into the camera, and I began to feel — calm, quiet, still. (No, that’s not quite right, because at first I was surprised to see that I had connected via my external camera, which I then had to resituate, and it made me flustered, and I briefly enlarged my own video feed at least three times to make sure it was in place. But then I stopped doing that.) I spent most of the encounter just sitting, listening to my dog snoring softly on the couch behind me, and looking at you, live in full screen on my laptop. Did I remember to look into the camera at all? I’m not sure I did. If not: apologies.

But you looked into the camera. I’m thinking now about how you looked — attentively but not expressively. That is, without doing what a director I used to work with would have called indicating, an exaggerated comportment meant to telegraph one’s internal state. I tend to do it a lot when I video conference, especially when teaching, in an effort to push past the mediated distances of the remote classroom, to build up the zoom room’s energy. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but an irony is that afterwards, like so many of us, I feel totally depleted. By contrast, just being with you, however mediated, has left me feeling restored.

Li Cornfeld

I am sat in the hallway, in a space in between, inside and outside,  that is not my house or home, but a friends rather cluttered holding space. I enjoy the silence with you. I am with a curved back I notice, I move position…I notice the pain down my left arm and leg, its more of stiffness in my joints that wants more attention I know. I enjoy it here with you. I could stay longer but dinner is cooking

With much gratitude and inspiration for the interval, for holding this interval space

Rosalind Holgate Smith

…such a pleasure to spend time with you late in the evening (our time),…  you looked intensely focussed, and i was happy about that as it allowed me to dream, and imagine how i could distract you; the yellow balloon, named Jaaqa, was drawn by my 3 year old grand niece Sara last week when i visited her..

-Johannes Birringer

Desiree Foerster