Totem: Archaeology of the Body 2015

Totem Venice (3)

photo by Caterina Corrata@Venice Art House


Archaeology of the Body

A study of hidden and known memories enclosed within the body through a mapping of felt sensations.

How can we identify the resonance of layers of past that are enclosed in our present moment, and acknowledge their impact on the way we move and our decision making? Is our way of moving a constant recognition, reverberation and rearrangement of elements of our past? How does our past define our sense of identity?

                                                                       Body as Archive

”Breath and Gravity. In an apparent stillness I observe the micro shifts of movement. In between this oscillation I detect a key for change. Reading my structural relationship with the surroundings through breath, I meet a sense of source. In this gap: an original molecular force that keeps me alive, an essential thread line, reveals the unifying principle that defined the core of my identity as I entered this reality, my original narrative, which has a rhythm and a shape. The core of this essential song, made by the encounter of two different rhythms, is stored in the core of my vertebrae.”

Through a somatic approach to movement, which deconstructs our sense of reality, by allowing to break from habitual habits of perception, we can access a different sense of ‘being’ in the present moment. By shifting our attention to functions of our body which we are not usually consciously aware of, but which are primal for keeping us alive, like our breath and our relationship to gravity, we can let go of a mechanical understanding of reality, allowing space for new ‘felt sensations’ to arise, that once recognized as ‘relevant’ or ‘true’ by our consciousness, can unravel layers of known and unknown histories and meanings carried by the body. By exploring this map of sensations, tracing the way they are ‘distributed’, we can recollect elements of our past and detect their structural impact on our present, and embark on a journey of investigation of personal and transpersonal histories and of the patterns of their unfolding, guided by a place of understanding free from the need to ‘define in order to understand’, which is typical of our rational mind, a place of inner recognition of a ‘sensing’ body, that enable us to create new links and connections, accessing that ‘pure ‘memory, that Bergson talks about and that is felt as ‘duration’(Bergson, 1911) and that our conscious mind can than rearrange into new conformations of meaning.

Can a new awareness of the impact of the past in our present through felt sensations change our understanding of personal and transpersonal history and affect our way of moving?

When your felt sense of a situation changes, you change and, therefore, so does your life’ (Gendlin, 2003, p.32)

Totem is a movement study that was developed as part of the Investigative Practice module of the MA in Creative Practice at Independent Dance, London, mentored by choreographer Rosemary Butcher , (London, May 2015)

The piece was presented in Venice in August 2015, as part of the art exhibition Self Memories:The Contemporary Sense of Awareness at Venice Art House, and consequently in Bristol as part of The Island Open Studios, and again at ID as part of the Feedback Forum.

Here it is a video extract