has been (and still is – to be continued) the working and research title of the interdisciplinary summer semester 2021 project initiated by Prof. Monica Bonvicini in collaboration with Prof. Sandra Noeth, Prof. Janez Jansa and dancer, choreographer and visual artist Ana Lessing Menjibar.
The project idea for FALLING results from previous collaborations initiated by Prof. Monica Bonvicini who invited Ana Lessing Menjibar to perform in a large scale installation of Class Bonvicini during Rundgang 2019 as part of the interdisciplinary architecture project FROM ONE TO MANY (2018-2019). Further, Prof. Monica Bonvicini involved Ana Lessing Menjibar by giving a lecture on THINKING WITH THE BODY in the context of SS2020’s project DIGITAL PHYSICAL – AN INTIMATE DISTANCE in which students developed video works / performances in reference to Simone Forti’s ZUMA NEWS (2014) and the perception and processing of information in times of a pandemic.
The research on falling, collaborative exchange, performative and material- based practices will be further shared, deepened and expanded throughout the summer semester and displayed at the Rundgang 2021 (29-31/10/2021 @UdK Berlin, R95a Ha33).
This text assembles ideas, thoughts, observations and reflections from all participants, with great support, inspiration and special thanks to Monica Bonvicini, Janez Jansa, Ana Lessing Menjibar, Sandra Noeth; edited/collected by Miriam Döring.
We all had to fall in and through the last one and a half years.
We have been stumbling, still are stumbling, starting to fall out of a state of uncertainty, still uncertain, still with every step we take forward we are aware of that we might need to step back again, we might fall again, we surely will, we always do, but we might be able to exercise, prepare and accompany ...
Practicing to fall can therefore be a practice of care, of precaution, learning how to prepare a fall, to fall alone, to fall collectively - and what is needed to hold.
Altogether fifteen students of sculpture class Bonvicini and MA SoDA (Solo/Dance/Authorship) class of HZT (Hochschul- übergreifendes Zentrum für Tanz Berlin) have been invited to literally fall into collaboration and exchange about an unknown research process and investigation on FALLING.
After months of reduced encounter and exchange between minds and bodies in corporal presence, meeting up to assemble for the first of five workshop days in May/June 2021 in the courtyard of HZT Campus Uferstudios in Berlin-Mitte has been an activating, inspiring and vibrating moment. Taking the participants’ (students‘ and teachers’) individual practices, backgrounds and fields as the initial basis, the starting point has been to share first approaches on falling through words and images, with bodies and movements, inside and outside, indoors and in public space.
Practise-based examinations were guided by the discussion of works from the artistic fields of performance and visual arts and put into further theoretical discourses and contexts. Working with scores for the body, as well as for sound, objects and space questions around responsibility, obligation and participation were explored.
Within three groups of students, mixed up between the two disciplinary directions, who prepared practical research proposals for the second workshop block, different thoughts, questions and interpretations of the Act of Falling, the result of a fall and bodies as (its) evidence were put into focus.
Reflecting on and discussing works from New York’s dance movement of the 60s and 70s, like Trisha Brown’s Leaning Duets I + II (1970/71) which contained verbal instructions to partners about balance, give and take of weight, and imminent danger, we have worked with improvised scores to initiate movements and channel observations or perceptions on bodies, time and space.
Traditional and acknowledged dancing techniques from early modern to contemporary dance on “how to fall” have been shared, tried out and trained - regarding the body and somatic knowledge as a main resource. Nevertheless we have been investigating into broader understandings of a falling movement such as falling into breath, falling into collective humming, voice and sound, falling within the body as an organic and vibrant material itself, falling in and out of language and speech, ...
The material impact, which is moving between the body as material in performative and a non/traditional understanding of material in sculptural practise, and its relevance on falling has put further considerations into space.
How can the moment of a fall be present or direct back to the body within a material, an object or the artistic gesture with such? What is intended by and which potential lies in working with failure, coincidence and non-controllable material?
Endurance, in a temporal, material and therefore physical understanding, a state which occurs to be relevant regarding the one of a fall, is forcefully experienced when looking back into Michelangelo’s “Non-Finito” sculptures, which remain in a latent moment of process, subjection and subjectivity.
Lynda Bengli’s “Fallen Paintings” from 1968, in which she poured and spilled pigmented latex rubber in space to let it dry and manifest itself, or Barry Le Va’s “Velocity Piece” (1969) where the material of the skin remains as a trace of the repetitive and consistent running and throwing of the artist’s body against the wall, translate another form of endurance, resistance, confrontation and fight. All three artists - may they be picked up exemplary for a much wider variety of sculptural practise - must have agreed on giving up on their so differently active material opposites.