My recent return to Berlin brought with it a strong desire to practice staying, to re-root. Having lived in Berlin in 2017-18, I was curious to visit the places and people who made the city what it is for me today and to learn the changes that both have gone through, five years later and post-pandemic. As opposed to the reputation of metropolitans’ as being transient and fleeting, it was comforting to feel a sense of stability. Within the changes that have naturally occurred, some things, spaces, ties, and friendships remained undeterred by time and distance. I was safely re-incorporated into the flow of Berlin’s U-Bahn tunnels and multicultural streets, dancing studios, and artist gatherings.
My new locality brought along several occasions for delivering and participating in movement sessions. We intend these sessions to be a gathering of people who are interested in researching into movement. In this moment of retrospection that this blog writing facilitates, I would like to share some of my thoughts on what I learned (and in principle am constantly learning) about movement, space, and relationality, from the sessions that I give.
A space. What does it tell us? (Photo was taken by me at the St. Kunigundis church in Kassel which was converted into an exhibition space during Documenta Fifteen).
The space we practice in appears in its material and temporal forms. It is a wide-open room, as well as a phrase in time; we enter to experience something. From it, each one leaves with whatever they desire to take with them. My deliberate use of we comes to emphasise a shared experience. Presumably, the space (material and temporal) would have felt utterly different should it have accommodated only one person. Therefore, the space and experience are shared, but this does not imply a communality-aimed practice, but a free constellation for people to encounter propositions and respond to them.
Different to other environments, here we practice a more pronounced participation of the senses that usually fall inferior when we engage in communication. I am specifically thinking of our tactile ability to sense touch, proximity, temperature, and energy. Think of the different interfaces through which you receive and transmit information. I am convinced that most if not all, operate on visual and audio stimuli. We are seduced into, or simply invited to use, so little of our broader sensuous capacities in our judgements and decision-making. What possibilities open up when we practice the sensible?
With this query in mind, we move through different propositions that are intended to render the body and cognition more porous. That is, to give into a softer quality of mind and matter (body). This quality lives in opposition to rushing, dispersing, avoiding, and so on. When we ‘open’ our receptors and practice reading the situation with the joint capacity of our senses, the possibility to receive a multitude of intel and inputs widens. This system of reception (and immediate processing) of information that I am describing here is different than what you practice at this very moment of reading, assuming it requires your sight and cognition only. It is much more holistic, pristine, and substratal. You can imagine this system as a neural flow that spreads in your body. Precisely like our nervous system, the transmission of information and reaction is faster than our thinking about it. In other words, our bodies receive and react, and our mind follows.
With this mode (or more specifically, changed condition) people move in space. Information is all around and within: one’s mood and sensitivity, the architecture of the room, the tunes in the background, the propositions in the space, other participants’ voices, moves, energy, eye contact, etc. There is a plentitude of information one receives, and upon which one imagines, responds to, joins in, breaks from, disregards, gestures against, and so on. All options for ways of relating are valid. In this regard, commitment is not significant as the drive for shared responsibility and sense-ability to the situation as a whole. The space is expectation-free and unbounded of any form of result, but the subjectivity of one, post-practicing with others.
Thank you for the read!