Relay was a three-year dance poetry project, initiated in late 2011, that produced a series of experimental performative events in the Bay Area. First a purely a self-directed solo (sparked by my utter joy in reading Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge’s collaborative poem with artist Kiki Smith, Concordance) Relay called in inspiration, feedback, and dramaturgical counsel and conversation from others. Margit developed a approach for transduction, translating lived experiences into visual art and dance. Margit took walks with twenty-five artists, with whom we mapped out adventures, all recorded, and used the content and tones of these walks to transduce into movement experiments.
Language, song, and poetry skills came from Jessika Kenney; artistic counsel from Violet Juno and James Kidd; social experiments and expansion actions were made with with Matt Shyka, Brianna Skellie, Mara Poliak, Sarah Pritchard, Gretchen Till, Harold Burns, and Beth Ahlstrand; sounds came in from Kadet Kuhne; performance collaborations with Justin Desmangles, Violet, and Denise Leto, and writing encounters took place with Eleni Stecopoulos, Mara Poliak, Amber DiPietra, and Jen Hofer. Many artists intersected with the work through the workshops and embodied language encounters.
Through Relay, we investigated the facets of meaning in the phrase dance poetry, learning by doing. Absorbing the language through memorization, Margit found transductions of tones and phrases into movement, watched the images of the performance grow in imagination and space. Margit came to know the poem Concordance and to embody it, through speaking, singing, drawing, writing, wordplay, conversation, and exegesis.
This piece for a time being intersected with some fascinations in studies of Chinese cosmology, particularly around the nature of the elements of the trigrams, the bagua, and personal and intimate understanding of the energetics of language used for the Fire element - fire’s language, from the perspective of the meridians, sexual organs of the body, and yin essence.
Performances took place at the Garage, SF in July 2012, then through Showbox LA at Bootleg Theater, that August; then later, it journeyed for events to places such as Joshua Tree, Riverside CA, Berkeley Art Museum, Starline Social Club Oakland, Ellen Webb Studio Emeryville, n/a Oakland through SALTA, Taoist Center Seattle, and Brooklyn, NY. This piece traveled far and wide.
All Photos by Chani Bockwinkel unless otherwise noted.
Final performances in Bay Area included the following artists: Violet Ace Juno, Denise Leto (performances); Abby Crain, Eleni Stecopoulos (Readers); Aarian + Armaan Chacko-Whiting, Asia Wong, Frances Rosario, Kathleen Keogh, Mara Poliak, Maureen Whiting, nicholas andre sung (Tuning the Space); Chani Bockwinkel, Sarah Pritchard, Mara Poliak, May Tulin, Pat Reed (Group Excursion); Sarah Pritchard, Kathleen Keogh, Cathie Caraker, Katarina Eriksson, Qilo Matzen, Renee Rhodes, Jennifer Marie Hoff, Marcia Scott, Maureen Whiting, Catharine Brook Anderson, and Chane Gilbert (Group Informance, Tuning at BAM).
Mei-Mei Berssenbruge, Concordance, in her own voice
Kelsey Street Recording ~ Concordance
The above link is Mei-mei Berssenbrugge reading Concordance
December 15, 2012
When I memorize this poem, it’s as if it lives off to the lower right in my imaginal field of vision. I look there, an inadvertent movement, to a sense of the page over there, as a spacial composition - stanzas, spaces, the turning to the next page as a guide into the chaotic furniture in the room of my memory. It’s becoming me, these lines, these layouts, Kiki Smith’s imagery.
More of this on the PDF
It’s a process whereby material can change into a new medium. By working with the elements from one medium, and then abstracting enough so that they can inform and synthesize into the next. Taking a lived encounter, for example, using as material for a dance of that experience; or taking the quality of lines of a poem, and using as a source or basis for an inquiry.
I develop a discipline and approach with the material and let it blossom
Transduction is literally the act of converting energy from one form to another, or transferring genetic material- there is an implication of a kind of seed and the ability for it to become a new thing in a new body, aided by epigenetics
Trans: transfer/translate/transmogrify. implies the nature of the complexity of the whole and that multiplicity being a source of fascination and potentiality.
Duce: to lead
we let the material lead over
we let the multiplicity lead us to new territory.
Encounters: Walking Talking Mapping
The first Relay walk took place at SALTA, and here was the spot where the walk began. and it became a little hub for others, unbeknownst to me, as I was walking.
In the Summer of 2013, I conducted twenty-five traveling conversations with artist/practitioners in a specific area of the East Bay. This is an area which is the valley space between three mountains: Mount Tamalpais, Mount San Bruno, and Mount Diablo. Several years previously, Gilles Marin had explained to me that this area was a node, as if the valley space one finds on the human form for Acupuncture and in Chinese energetics, so too the land had zones of potency. It was a region to explore, and what better way than felting conversations and traversing the territory with artistic companions?
This chapter was called Relay Encounters. These conversations offered intriguing perspectives movement, language, and landscape, and set up an ephemeral web of relations. There was a specific format for the conversations, which involved finding an anchor, a roaming mutual interview/conversation, (individually, I was spontaneously tracking forms and pathways through the traveling), and then ending with an integration-mapping. Each interview was archived through audio and photos.
One of the strands of inspiration for Relay is the image, material, and phenomenon of felt. Ever-spiraling, it enmeshes through overlapping strands of wool. What a great image to dance with, and what an image for the workings of life. Not to mention the term connotes the quality of lived, engaged experience: that which is felt.
In Felt: Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, and the Dalai Lama, by Chris Thompson, the author goes into detail about felt.
More of this on the PDF
Living Things Shine On
Relay > Living things shine on was an artistic practice stream that started in late 2011. The project came out of my absolute joy in reading Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge’s collaborative poem Concordance with artist Kiki Smith. Through these earlier phases of RELAY, I investigated the facets of meaning in the phrase dance poetry, learning by doing. Absorbing the language through memorization; finding transductions of tones and phrases into movement; and watching the images of the live aspect grow in imagination and space. I come to know the poem, to embody it, through speaking, singing, drawing, writing, wordplay, conversation, exegesing. Shows at the Garage, SF in July 2012, then through Showbox LA at Bootleg Theater, in August. Some writing encounters in between.
Though a solo project, I was pushing the term to its limit, as I was attempting a kind of collaboration in which I access inspiration, feedback, and dramaturgical counsel from the brilliant artists in my midst. Collaborative solo? So far: Language, song, and poetry skills from Jessika Kenney; artistic counsel from Violet Harloand James Kidd; Relay social experiments and expansion actions with Matt Shyka, Brianna Skellie, Mara Poliak, Sarah Pritchard, Gretchen Till, Harold Burns, and Beth; sound with Kadet; writing encounters: Eleni Stecopoulos, Mara Poliak, Amber DiPietra, and Jen Hofer. There were dream projects to compose longer conversations with certain thinkers, and there have been some invitations that fell before they were picked up. This is all the rhythm of what Relay was becoming.
This piece for a time being intersected with some fascinations in my studies is Chinese cosmology, particularly around the nature of the elements of the trigrams, the bagua, and personal and intimate understanding of the energetics of fire’s language (Summer), from the perspective of the meridians, sex and yin essence (sexual organs). Unclear how these aspects mutually embed over time.
Writing Encounters ~ Discovering New Species
Relay: Discovering New Species is an investigation of the alchemy of language, movement, and space/place.
Relay: Discovering New Species is a dance poetry performance working with material that ranges from embodying poetry, transducing conversations into practice-actions in space, and studying energetics with swords. The piece is a composition experimentally-based on materials of the 2013 Summer Encounters; while the piece does not immediately address all of the interactions nor encompass them, the conversations provided multiple layers of communication which became both direct and indirect material for the piece. After a period of extending solo research to its edges, transducing words into practice actions in space, studying energetics with swords, walking and talking with people, and meshing with an urban East Bay valley between three mountains, Margit has been nesting again in the studio context and there has made a dance. Now, felting relations, presencing, and forming vivid dance space in a dance poetry performance piece. What Discovering New Species refers to is the awe of what it means to make something, for it to be named in a senseÂ â€“ be it sound or object or action â€“ that is entirely novel for that moment, yet drawn from what already is. This delicate place of encountering language and tone is the material of this work.
The piece travelled:
~Studies / Kunst-Stoff Arts (SF)
~The NO THANK YOU SHOW, curated by Abby Crain (SF)
~Char Salon / U.C. Riverside
~Vivid Space Salon / Pieter Performance (LA)
~ SALTA = n/a, with Tessa Wills (Oakland
~Performance Evening with Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang / Taoist Studies Institute ~ Seattle, with a post-show conversation guided by Jarrad Powell and Mary Sheldon Scott (Molly)
~Performance and Potluck Conversation, with Daria Fain and Brenda Ijima / The Loft (Brooklyn, NY); potluck co-facilitated by K.J. Holmes + Marissa Perel, co-presented by Daria Fain / The Prosodic Body
Culminating Events ~ Bay Area:
~Tuning The Possible, Berkeley Art Museum, curated by Asia Wong
~Tuning Group Excursion, part of the ~Home Theater Festival
~Relay Presentation at JFK University, Berkeley
~Relay Performance + Potluck at the Starline, Oakland, with a group of Oakland Tuners and an art of conversation presentation with Justin Desmangles. ~Relay Studio Show, Oakland, performances by Denise Leto and Violet Juno.
Conversation between Tessa Wills and MG at SALTA is n/a, photo by Chani Bockwinkel
Relay Down South
I got invited to perform Relay: Discovering New Species in Southern California, through the invitation of CSUSM | Arts and Lectures and the shining force of Karen Schaffman. It was a unique performing experience for me, since the audience was filled predominantly with a mass of students, along with a powerful few colleagues/peers. So, rather than being a group that organically gathered through a community process I was co-curating, it was an institutional setting - another kind of social and economic grouping.
Over the three years I embodied and performed segments of the poem through traditional and experimental tactics, wrote a poetry chapbook (Relay transduxions), exchanged with artists in various disciplines, lay fallow and integrated, and came with terms to meet new regions of practice such as transductions to describe the process of taking material from one medium into others, and anchoring to deal directly with counteracting with confusion and adrenaline in performing. I tend to take long periods of time to investigate material when I work, so the art is deeply embedded in with my intellectual, physical, cultural, imaginal, and aesthetic fascinations over time, and they cross and exchange with others.
The experiential process of art always interacts in some way with larger, cultural questions. At every step of this project, I have been extending what it means to be in solo through multiple forms of conversation. Actually, this piece is an early step in defining the term and field Movement Culture, which is coming to be defined like this: embodied action has deep meaning and is mutually affected by the people and situation of which it is part. This work as well as the term continues to be redefined through the people from which is springs and conversations that grow over time.
Just as the poem Concordance shifted my body and has affected my life, so too I hope to honor the power of the artistic voice by developing a unique dance poetics and furthering the field of embodied research. With the richness and collaborative nature of making, this one voice indeed will cross with many others; what it creates, we can only imagine.
Winter 2011 - 2012: The project emerged from my absolute joy in reading Mei-mei Bersenbrugge’s collaborative visual poem Concordance with artist Kiki Smith. Also came out of one month of daily early morning art practice with no agenda. Over that period, I moved through artistic forms in the home space: reading, writing, drawing, moving, etc. North Oakland.
Summer of 2012: I presented Relay: Living Things Shine On as series of performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles (at The Garage SF and Bootleg Theater, produced by Showbox / LA). It was a â€œsoloâ€ project in which I pushed the term to its limit, in conversation through disciplines and amongst people. I asked: how can embodied language grow through performance? How to develop translations that create novelty, enhancing the tones of the poem? From this, I made a chapbook, transduxions, a set of poems for a single viewer. Some of the most notable aspects of these performances were the interactions and conversations I had with poets, specifically Eleni Stecopoulos, Amber DiPietra, and Jen Hofer. In one of the performances, I invited Jen on stage and we lay down and asked each other questions with the mike. Satisfying.
Then, after some time of fallow,
Summer from 2013: I spent the full season of in conversation with twenty-five practitioners from different disciplines. We walked and talked around a particular zone of the East Bay, Oakland and South Berkeley, which is the valley space between three local mountains: Mount Tamalpais, Mount Bruno, and Mount Diablo. With these talks, weÂ wandered and conversed, each with a wildly different tone, and I recorded the conversation, and then we ended by mapping what had happened. This chapter was called Relay: Encounters.
Fall 2013 - Spring 2014: Relay: Discovering New Species is the current chapter of the Relay dance poetry project. It is a three-part dance poetry performance working with material that ranges from embodying poetry, transducing conversations into practice-actions in space, and studying energetics with swords. The piece is a composition experimentally-based on materials of the summers Encounters; while the piece does not immediately address all of the interactions nor encompass them, the conversations provided multiple layers of communication which became both direct and indirect material for the piece. This piece is touring in Southern California (informal), then will travel to Seattle, NYC, and finally the home territory of the Bay Area.Â It interacts with different artists where it is performed, and in that way, felts through the different places and mutually affected by the different places.
RELAY ENCOUNTERS, CONVERSATIONS, AND COLLABORATIONS WITH
Violet Juno: Art-Life Exchange
Maureen Whiting: Choreographic Mentor
Avery Hudson: Archival and Technical Support
Cara Judea Alhadeff + Zazu
Daria Fain + Robert Kocik / The Prosodic Body
Harmony Wolfe / Char Salon
James Kidd / Pieter Performance
Julie Tolentino + Stosh Fila / FERAL * studio.house
Kadet + Haven Kuhne
Meg Wolfe / Show Box L.A.
Melanie Maar / The Loft
Nan Estap / B. Spoke Tailor
Neil and Roger Marcus
Nicholas Andre Sung
Nicole Piesl + Anna
Wendy Rogers / UCRiverside Collaboration students