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Task 41 - Grotesque


Alan writes:

You mention your pregnancy in relation to the time it took to finish your response to Task 39. You describe being ‘physically and mentally slower’; ‘there is no way,’ you write, ‘of ignoring the insistent presence of my changing and grotesque body.’ And you ask a question: ‘how I can embrace these circumstances and make them work to my advantage? How can pregnancy itself be a parameter (and a practice) that determines working methods and celebrates the uniqueness of this experience?’

Contrary to that reference to ‘uniqueness’, you’ve been here before, and you have asked (and answered) a very similar question in the past! I am referring to the work you did on the Dance and Moving Image module as part of your MA at Laban while you were pregnant with Lisa in 2013. The preparation for the film you made for the module is recorded here, and the film itself and accompanying materials are here. In this work, you describe your pregnant body (as you do again above) as ‘grotesque’ in the Bakhtinian sense—that is, not meaning ‘ugly’, but describing a body that is ‘in-becoming’, incubating another life (and therefore not ‘unitary’) and expanding into the outside world. You quote Bakhtin: ‘the grotesque body is not separated from the rest of the world. It is not a closed, complete unit; it is unfinished, outgrows itself, transgresses its own limits.’ The grotesque becomes the poetic principle that generates your film:

My intention is not to make a film about the grotesque body but rather that I aim for the film itself to be grotesque body: ambivalent, open and subject to change.

As you yourself say, implicit in the treatment of film as itself a grotesque body is the idea of emphasizing process instead of outcome: ‘the creation of the film will be the object of the final film itself.’ I think it’s this emphasis on process that has maybe got lost in recent responses in our project: has my own perfectionism and focus on product had a negative influence on your own ability to relax into, privilege, and record, process? Is it this, and not only your pregnancy-induced fatigue, that has delayed the ‘completion’ and posting of your responses? This week’s task is designed to get you back to process.

Your task

Your task is to review the written material and the film contained in the two blog posts linked to above. In other words, I want you to return and critically consider the material you produced for the Dance and Moving Image module on your MA. Consider the following questions.

Which ideas and phrases resonate with you in what you wrote, and with your experience of pregnancy this time around? What would you change? What, for you, works about the film? How would you do it differently now?

Use the Notes Plus app, which you enjoy making with, to record the process of reviewing and responding to the material, taking screen grabs from the blog post and film to annotate. Your posted response should only be made up of screen grabs (or image exports etc., if available) from the app. This means that your process and reflection on process should be produced simultaneously, and that the (grotesque?) ‘product’ you post is identical with the record of process itself.

See Marie's response here.