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Task 26 - Embodiment Alan Style


Marie writes:

In my Response 23– Avoid Being Awful, where I got you to be my ‘performer-puppet’, we encountered some differences in how we think about art and how we value (the making of) it. I would have liked to return to this in the task (no. 24) I set you to follow that, but as we went on holiday in Norway that week it wasn’t the right time to get you to work further on this. Still, I wanted to express my appreciation for your Response 24  – White Family Holiday, and the way you weave holiday anecdotes and banalities, holiday snaps with thoughts on whiteness and on ‘close reading’, which you discussed with me this weekend in the car to work in Aarhus, after you had published the response post, in terms of ‘camp’. I was intrigued to know more about your understanding of camp as a critical posture (you mentioned Susan Sontag). It always amazes me how much varied material and interesting reflections can come from such a simple and meagre task…

This week, though, let’s return to question of value. As I quote you saying at the end of the response in ‘avoid being awful’, you felt that (some aspect of) what we were doing for the rehearsal was awful and excruciating. I want you to interrogate this by getting you to undo or correct this ‘feeling of awfulness’. We have now established how much you dislike improvising movement. I am still curious to figure out how you perceive the ‘bodily’ aspect of your work and how this could be manifested in a joint performance. What is the embodiment of Alan O’Leary’s work?

Your task

There are two stages to your task:

  1. Consider what is ‘embodiment’ in your work and reflect on what it means to you as an academic to include your physicality/body into your work when you write, think, make films etc. What could have been done differently in the ‘avoid being awful’ rehearsal for it to be of value to you?
  2. If you were to make a physical element for a joint performance that is NOT awful for you, what could replace improvised movement without removing the actual body from this element? Begin to work out how a performative segment would be choreographed/composed/acted out using ‘your form’.

There might be cross-overs between these two stages in your response, they might even merge to one. That is up to you. I realise that the chances of getting you to work directly with your body for this task are slim! I will keep asking though…

See Alan's response here.