44 tasks and 32 weeks of gestation
We have taken a break from project tasks for two weeks to spend a family holiday together in Ireland. On our final day in Cork we had a chat over lunch about how to manage the final few weeks of the project. The main reason for the project to be ‘managed’ for these weeks to come has to do with my pregnancy. I am now 32 weeks pregnant which means my energy and physical capabilities are working at reduced levels (as may be evident from recent tasks and responses), but I still need to keep up my teaching and other jobs for the next five weeks when I take maternity leave. The discussion over lunch was therefore an opportunity to address these circumstances and consider how we can continue and complete the project as we set out to do in October 2018.
What I find most challenging and time consuming in relation to the project is the focus on producing an outcome. What became clear in our conversation over lunch is that my strength and (to a degree) my interest lies in the exploration of a task and the creative activity that it involves rather the reporting back and documenting (I am an improviser after all!). You describe this as ‘difference of aesthetics or temperamental preferences’ in your project review reflections of January 2019 and go on to suggest that I experience the ‘performance [activity] as the “real” thing, and the document just as a trail’ while for you ‘the “document”, or the piece of writing, is the process as well as the product’. I think there is a lot of truth to this and that these are prevailing characteristics of how we are ‘happily creative’, even after 43 tasks, and even as we try to integrate each other’s working methods. However, I am pleased that we for the next weeks have decided to accommodate my ‘condition’ and to take the edge off my project workload by agreeing to do a four-week relay…
What this means, is that for the next four tasks, we will each focus on our own ‘creative strengths’: I will create material and be less concerned about outcome and you will use the material to create a product from this. We will then ‘relay’ (hand over) the material we have created, suggesting how to respond to it or how to create something new from the material that is developing. For that reason, responses and the tasks that follow will be strongly connected.
The due date of our child almost coincides with a full year of tasks, but we will work with the contingency that an earlier arrival of the baby will mark the end of the Parameters & Practice project in the current format, whatever week that may be. The day/moment of the birth will suspend that week’s task and activate a concluding task that will be open and address the circumstances of the event, to be undertaken by you. I will create this task over the coming weeks and post it ready to take effect when needed.
That the birth of our baby should coincide with the end of the project is completely coincidental but quite striking. During our lunch conversation you talked about the cyclical and ‘carnivalesque’ character of this coincidence as the end of one (life-shifting) undertaking happens at the same time as the beginning of a new. My grotesque and changing body is certainly an aspect of this ‘carnivalesque mode’, as is the general feeling of openness, incompletion and ambivalence in our lives more generally, as we are trying to find work, a more permanent residence and ‘a good life’ in a new place with all the changes and uncertainty that comes with it. The carnivalesque is about the circularity of life and death, about beginnings and endings, about change and transgressing limits. I would like you to bear this in mind as you consider task 44.
My idea for how to begin our relay takes me to a phenomenon that touches on our shared practice of yoga, but mainly derives from something that occupies me at the moment when thinking about birth and labour: breath. The idea literally landed in me in a moment of a Braxton Hicks contraction where I found that focusing on breathing and pausing my activity alleviated the discomfort of my body’s practicing and preparing for birth labour. In our Ashtanga Yoga practice the characteristic Ujjayi breathing technique is all about equilibrium and rhythm. And as with the carnivalesque, the breath is all about circularity, beginning and endings and life and death.
Your task is to create a score for task 45 that will allow me to play with and improvise around circularity and the themes mentioned above. What I mean by a score is a set of instructions that frame an exploration. There should be a time limit and an instruction on the space and some degree of parameters that limits/opens the exploration. The score you give me may be visual like an image or drawing or a verbal score, it may be very abstract or concrete. Here are a few examples:
It may be that you take the idea of breath very literally and ask me to move with my breath. It may also be that you construct a task that makes me repeat and develop a theme in the shape of an inhale and exhale. That is up to you. The only obstruction is that the task you pass on to me has to involve a physical activity. You may ask me to film/record this exploration for you to continue working with for your next response.