At the cusp of appearance and disappearance

David Williams collages the thoughts of Jude Walton and Mark Minchinton on Walton’s Dance:Text:Film for Green Mill

In 1994, Jude Walton was invited to develop work as an artist-in-residence at the Queen’s College, University of Melbourne, in the neo-Gothic Tower Studio. In turn, she invited choreographers Sandra Parker and Trevor Patrick, writers Jackie Dunn and Mark Minchinton and cinematographer Brendan Lavelle to work with her around the broad thematic constellation of knowing and bodies. Material generated from that time and space is now being reworked for a week of performances in July, in a very different space: the George Ballroom in St. Kilda, a weathered Neo-Baroque dance hall ghosted by its pasts and possible futures.

Dance:Text:Film emerges from questions that seek to recognise epistemological ‘gaps’, spaces in-between self and other, presence and absence, remembering and forgetting. These spaces in-between are the sites of desire and its corollary, fiction. What follows is a collage of fragments by Jude Walton and Mark Minchinton, written during the development process.

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Desire comes as a realisation, a perception, as it were as the result of a mental operation which has now entered into the system of desire. The erotic, one might say, is the intelligence of the body. It is the body become sentient and self-aware by way of the other. Peter Brooks, Body Work

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I said, “Who’s missing? Someone’s missing”.
You said, “There’s always someone missing”.

Is it only in absence that we know another? Given that incorporation is both act and condition of experience, how do we know intimately through the ‘body’ through the ‘mind’? The knowing that stems from incorporation is acquired through accretion, translation, accumulation of ‘fact’, evidence observed, experienced, collated, sifted…but in the end what do we know? And what is this inherently insatiable desire to know another—to ‘hold their mind in your hand’? These are some of the questions.

When we speak we communicate more than we can know. But more important is what we seek to omit, to withhold. What are these selves that could have been, and in withholding them what do we gain and lose?

I feel we continually rebuild our reality to suit our wishes and desires. As Leif Finkel says in an article on the construction of perception, “our cortex makes up little stories about the world, and softly hums them to us to keep us from getting scared at night”.

The reflection of the fields in the glass of the train window remind me of another time. A time known only in motion. The sense of going forward to another place, another me, and I invent my life, what it will become.

This project brings together the differing languages of dance, text and film to investigate how knowledge is generated and conveyed from body to body, from soul to soul. I think it creates an unstable patchwork, a shadowy narrative of desire between the performers, a world at the cusp of appearance and disappearance. At various times information is accumulated, concealed, transformed or deleted to reveal relationships that remain forever potential and therefore, in a way, forever unknown.

What is the place of absence? Where is it we are when we’re not (t)here? Who do we become when we are not present? And should a fireman come to us, wearing helmet and boots, would we know how to respond? Would we go with him, accept the state of emergency, or sit dumbfounded and questioning, wondering if we had heard the sirens, and if not, questioning their absence? What is a fireman? And why do fires need to be put out?

The structure of the work is conversational, nomadic, looping back on itself and making tangential excursions. It exists as a collection of small, individual moments which hopefully, as Walter Benjamin suggested, act as “crystals from which can be read or inferred the shape of the total event”. Audiences are invited to participate in an unravelling and understanding of the circumstances, “to grasp the epoch from the small symptoms of the surface”, as Horkheimer has said. To make their own fictions of what real-ly happens.

At sunset, in those moments of fading, when I try to see what I think should be there, where have you gone? And at sunrise when the light slowly reveals you, why don’t I feel surprised?

Jude Walton’s Dance:Text:Film will be performed by Sandra Parker, Trevor Patrick, Jackie Dunn, Mark Minchinton and Jude Walton at the George Ballroom, Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda, 16-21 July, as part of the Green Mill Dance Project 1996.

RealTime issue #13 June-July 1996 pg. 38

© David Williams (Melb); for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 1996