In the folds of thought

Linda Marie Walker: Who’s Afraid Of Anything?, Junko Wada/Hans Peter Kuhn

For a long time I’ve wanted to compose musical scores from bits of text and coloured paper, and stack them on a shelf as a slowly amassing single work, or sentence (called ‘Litter’ perhaps), “as if the logic of fiction is one that pertains to the emotions” (Brenda Ludeman, Visual Arts Program); I’ve wondered what it would sound like, I always wonder what writing sounds like as music, or looks like as dance; and I’d been watching Junko Wada for a while before thinking there was something familiar about her movement, not something I’d seen before, or understood, but something I recognised faintly, or more likely imagined; then it came: she’s writing; it was like watching words come-about, pause, float briefly, and join-up like beads; I didn’t like this thought, I chastised myself for misreading the contorted hands and the calm feet, and the body separated into many parts, all at once; it seemed that each move interrupted itself (like a minor subversion) in its middle so that it was seen, insisted on being seen, and was isolated from what was otherwise fluid; still it persisted, this thought, the horrible ability (want) I have to align various forms to ‘writing’; her body a type of stylus, acute, accurate—each move equivalent to the next—inscribing her dance into me, lightly; the engraving did not occur by harsh cuts, rather by repetitious and concentrated (condensed) strokes; the performance wasn’t about grand vistas, it was some other spatial knowledge: a topology of small dove-tailing details: “(s)he is the worker of a single space, the space of measure and transport” (Claire Robinson, in Folding Architecture).

Junko Wada is not going anywhere (she’s staying put, digging in), there is no journey other than thought (where she was sending me), and this thought is restless and malleable; it is simultaneous thought of here and of that other place so far back there’s no known path; she writes: “back to when I was an amoeba-like single cell”; she’s showing a confined, restricting space, small white empty, to be intricate (to be an architecture folding and unfolding, to be flesh: “Her architecture would be…a local emergence within a saturated landscape” [Claire Robinson]) and endless; that is, the space is strange—in parched geometry there is the naked written and writing body—and this strangeness is left alone by the soundscape of Hans Peter Kuhn; so, therefore, there are two separate works which throughout the performance remain distant (he’s building, she’s building, apart), parallel, creating, for me, yet another space (a third) which belongs to neither, which belongs to the audience (a gift, if you want); the soundscape is as minimal as the dance; and I don’t remember its shapes, instead I remember single sounds, single events–—rain, and to my chagrin the almost too-human ones, his whistling, his voice singing a Marlene Dietrich song, the pouring of the white wine into two glasses, and his footsteps across the floor to where she stood, waiting, and the handing to her of a glass, to toast the idea of ‘ending’ (I liked the music because it did not mark the dance, it did not drive or state, it was comfortable being there, present, and available at will) and this brought me right back, with a thud, to the ‘real’ of human display—to humans performing for humans, in diverse and delicate ways—which chronicles and archives the immeasurable and the unchartable, fleeting fragments (have I told you of the three dresses, red, yellow, blue, of how they worked ‘against’ the body, making its utterance somehow more live, and awkward too?)—and then not so much as ‘noise’ but as ‘objects’ or ‘positions’ in the space where I was, where the watchers were, skirting the dancer’s square, leaving her ‘room’, her work, to her; the third space is a prolonged interval then—where thinking is invited, a thinking between, in this case, movement and sound, or dancing (as it comes from the inside out), and music (as it goes from the outside in); and this making, imagining, of the interval, or plane, by bringing into proximity, but not interweaving, two very considered forms—one that stretches, reaches to the limit, and another that rests, resides with slight tension—collects nowhere else but in oneself (who is saying nothing, while the gathered cells, a universe, are now at the bar taking their first post-show sip, putting themselves in, edging themselves toward, a state of speech [to borrow from Barthes]).

Who’s Afraid Of Anything?, Junko Wada/Hans Peter Kuhn; Space Theatre, March 5, Adelaide Festival 1998

RealTime issue #24 April-May 1998 pg. 6

© Linda Marie Walker; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 1998