Performance, Collaboration and other Experience in Choreography:

A choreography for ethical calmness

photo009Photo: PETER

PETER continues and remains to be an ongoing practice, with a multitude of interactions and reformulations, PETER is my artist name, the name of my work and practice and my name. PETER first formed as this all inclusive concept during my MA research into the use of choreography as an ethical practice. The choreography is slow, it is formed over time and through many informal and formal encounters. In an attempt to demonstrate and document this lived choreography I presented PETER as a 48 hour long interactive performance installation, a room filled with documents, notes and recordings of encounters, with invitations to persons to continue, follow up, reformulate and encounter for the first time the choreography, within the 48 hour performance.

The piece was messy, the room was a mess, but calmness has been a running theme throughout PETER. So now I would like to write a little about calmness in relation to the performance. I did not expect that people would feel calm within this space, with it being very noisy both visually and audibly. But I liked the idea and have since sought to understand calmness. One thing that I deliberately worked on, and what I now think could have contributed to the calmness was the ungraspablity of the performance. I wanted people to experience the incapacity to see and understand everything, something which I believed to be a phenomena of reality. I saw this inability to know exactly what reality is, because our inability to see and understand everything as something, which is not taken into consideration when writing laws and constructing society. These ideas causes me to question representative democracy and also peoples’ difficulties to take civic responsibility and thus I wanted to explore the notion, that if one can experience ones own lack of knowledge when making choices one can make responsible choices and see choices made for them like laws etc as difficult to be accurate and or necessary.

So the space for me was to act truer to reality as ungraspable, leaving the audience member in the position of having to choose how to cope with this confrontation. I imagined that people would either get annoyed, angry or frustrated with the situation but the opposite was true, people felt calm and relaxed. People found themselves falling into the situation enjoying what they found to be graspable, wandering around finding little things of interest or beauty. People started to socialise with one another showing things to each other. This was slightly unexpected but very desirable.

This was a large shift in my work where before when tackling political issues I would put the audience in a situation or give a representation where they would have to encounter or experience that which I would deeme as wrong with the world, but with this project I wished to make a proposal, not a provocation. This meant working with the individual audience members as persons with their own agency or free will by giving them space and time to negotiate, test, try, fail and play, and I think the most fascinating or telling thing about this space which emerged was that it produced a calmness. Which I believe is the result, as it proposed an alternative to a society based upon success and gain, people felt calm being able to be with their immediate situation, no longer having to deal with objective power struggles and complex systematic obligations.

The revelation of calmness was discovered a month or two before the 48 hour performance was shown at MDT in Stockholm, calmness became not only the result but also the mechanism used, this releasing and letting go became a strong activity. A very conceptual activity because as PETER had shown me before the possibility for things like noise etc often recognised with stress could still be but used in a manner to provide calmness. It was as if calmness became the message of PETER transmitted through its many scores, objects and performances accumulating in a state and space of calmness.

Calmness is more than a spa, holiday, calmness is a quality of living. We are so used to dividing our lives and selves into work, family, alone time etc, our ability to act or function with difference is obstructed, calmness is monopolised and demonised as not constructive for work or seriousness, and at the same time importance is removed from play and spending time with an experience. I would like to propose that calmness could be a meta practice within our lives, which means that calmness would not be treated like an aesthetic where simplicity is used to enforce a calm approach to life. That a person could function on within any situation, simple or the opposite and be able to use the differing situations by moving between around and within them, with an agency and with a will upon their own activities through their ability to define them them self. With the emphasis is on shifting value, following interesting and practising an importance for oneself, which would provide a condition of calmness.

It is not important to achieve calmness. If you want something you will have to do something other than it to produce it. Calmness is not only a practice but also that which slithers, wiggles, glides, slides, sneaks and approaches unnoticed into the situation when we become immersed in a practise of dropping and letting go, reformulating and repositioning. PETER constructs situations where the necessity to achieve is blurred or removed and one finds themselves resorting to that which is interesting.