What kind of words do we have to describe our relationships? and what do those words do for us?
I've been thinking about how naming is used to build identity. That language becomes something that can buttress who you are, that makes it clear, or legible. And then thinking how could we use language, by way of practices of description, to rather try dis-identification. To think about how it can undo and thus destabilize a certain reading of bodies, their gestures, and relations. In order to experiment with what this or that relationship might mean, and thus could be. Starting from geometries of relation, literally the shapes we take, in love, care, touch, and dependency, and open the erotics through language.
It can happen and often does, that ideas spring up out of seemingly nowhere and, as they flesh themselves out in concepts and questions they find their context. A strange serendipity has presented an uncanny context for this work; Public Relations. In 2019 I made a work titled Poems and Other Emergencies which proposed language as a cultural prosthesis to the body. From this work, I became interested in the ways in which language mediates relations between people: the way we understand our dependencies, modes of care, our proximities with others, and how we use language to define those relationships. I was desiring other kinds of language to describe and define relationships beyond the names and actions which give form to the couple or platonic friendships. Hoping for language that would guide me in constructing relationships on their own terms and a sense of family that could go beyond ideas of ownership and identity, we could call them queer relations. As I was having these thoughts, I, like most of us, had no idea a global pandemic was brewing and would drastically change the conditions of our relationships. As we saw the world shut down and governments call for us to define, and confine ourselves to, ‘our bubbles’, our relationships were deemed dangerous. Entire categories of friendship have been excluded, the proximity of bodies has been minimized wherever possible and the network of relations that shape our lives were suddenly out of reach. We had to reconfigure how we meet. These social choreographies quickly embedded themselves in our lives and have produced an increasingly pronounced other; those whom you simply do not encounter, those outside the bubble. It has become more important than ever that we rethink how we define relationships, how our bodies can move together, in intimacy, love, and conversation. At the risk of hyperbole, I would argue that we need to rehabilitate relationships, find connections, practices of care, and architectures of support.
Choreography: Chloe Chignell
Collaborators and Performers: Alice Heyward and Stefan Govaart.
Residency at BUDA Kortrijk 5-16th April 2021
Residency at rile* 2021 TBC