Video from preview showings of ORIGIN at PS1, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Embassy Theatre London, June 9-10 2013. The final performance took place at BuildingBloqs, Walthamstow, London, September 27, 2013
This piece explores the possibilities of binding in performance. This performance is predicated on the act of binding amplifying a ritual field, just as a magnetic field is amplified by winding current-carrying wire around an electromagnet . A sufficiently close audience receives a physical experience of this field, thus experiencing the performance within their body. The performer becomes a kind of biological amplifier.
This theory of binding producing a field is not arrived at by analogy, but by a close examination of the function of all cultural binding practices. In cultures widespread in time and geography, there are practices of binding people and objects. From Ancient Greek Kolossoi, to Polynesian god figures, to Wicca, all these practices are designed to contain and direct energy, whether in objects or people.
Is there a connection between the ritual practice of encircling objects with cord, the encirclement of a magnet in current-carrying wire to produce a magnetic field, and the bondage practitioners who speak of the rope 'carrying energy' between bodies? Personal experience has shown that the physical effects of being bound are profound and hypnotic.*
Japanese bondage developed out of a martial art of torture into an often erotic art of energetic communication between bodies.
Bondage is also taboo. Taboos form a system of anti-rules: they itemize those behaviours that are circumscribed by a community. Rarely are taboos completely outlawed. Often, they are is merely controlled, exercised by monopoly, or in secret: killing is illegal, except where it is done in contemporary societies by the Sate in war or executions, or in older societies by way of sacrifice. Taboos are used in many cultures. for working magic. They gain their power precisely from their suppression by the community.
In this performance, the taboo associations of sadomasochism and torture are deployed against the hold of vague, mystical notions as 'freedom' and 'the individual' exemplified in the figure of the artist. Here, these notions are unraveled by binding the artist in complicit surrender. When she emerges from her bonds she has been physically changed: tight binding produces powerful energetic changes in the body. (Email me for details of findings of EEG research recently carried out at email@example.com). By surrender, then, the artist's body becomes an agent of material, kinaesthetic change within the performance space, and within the bodies of the assembled audience.
The performance inhabits the tension between spiritual and political realities, questioning conventional notions of what it is to be an individual, to make one's mark. What it might mean to testify experience differently? To be marked, instead of marking? To overcome wilfulness through surrender? What might we achieve by surrendering our 'selves'?
The soundtrack is produced by a bull roarer. I discovered bullroarers while researching electromagnetism in relation to cultural binding practices. The bull roarer (or rhomb) is a spinning instrument, usually made of a flat piece of wood attached to a cord. It appears in cultures around the world. Aboriginals give these toys to newly circumcised males to ease pain. The infant Dionysus was given a rhomb by the Titans to as an instrument to hypnotize him and dull his senses. Researcher Bethe Hagens suggests that bullroarers and their counterparts, buzzers (also found in cultures throughout the world and popular children's toys everywhere), are so widespread because they are manmade expressions of the cosmic spiral, their timbre expressing the inhalation and exhalation of magical breathing. Their use was a passport into a sonopoietic sphere, in which mystical experience could occur.
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