As dance makers, poets and interdisciplinary practitioners, we (pavleheidler and alys longley) were meant to have two weeks studio time together in Stockholm, in March of 2020. Instead, we met online weekly from April onwards, continuing our practice into conversation, experimental documentation, and page creation. One result of our practice is an artist book that emerged out of what we describe as non-anticipatory aesthetics, non-binary poetics, and anti-proprietorial language. These are terms that form their meaning out of resistance, carrying the tension of the not-this, into the evocation of possibility. Our practice involves the blurring of poetics, conversation and drawing, to work into feeling, ambiguity, viscerality, relationality, spatiality and texture.
This project follows on from pavle’s recent work with Skye Reynolds, exploring Anne Carson’s method of bracketing in her translations of the poems of Sappho. Alys had been working with Carson’s texts Anthropology of Water, and Nox in her explorations of liquid perception and folding as compositional method. We continue our engagement with Carson’s poetics, alongside conversations entangling the blurring of knowledge-systems such as Body Mind Centering, new materialist philosophy, fiction writing and somatic research. We want to allow the concept of the body to float, untethered and to experience it as a fictional container formed out of sensation, rather than a set or predictable form.
When working on our book-practice, we bring the improvisatory logics of our studio work, into conversations that become art works that become digital pages. We work in relational time, making the book together, incorporating random and off-hand comments as we go. Alys tends to work in a more analogue way, handwriting and photographing notes and uploading to a digital file, while pavle edits using design software. Our practice takes place over zoom, in Alys’s evening to pavle’s morning. What we make tends to surprise us. We are not concerned with making a particular thing, we are concerned with just showing up and continuing something.
Non-anticipatory aesthetics are practised by not wanting to know in advance. We learn by following. We use our intuition. Our work is made out of response and not prediction. We are deliberately unsure of what we are doing. We place our relationality and method of working (somatics, friendship, curiosity, humour) first and see what follows.
Our practice of bracketing attends to placement and displacement, putting ideas inside each other and considering how insides relate to outsides, how absence has its own centrality in language. We both read Anne Carson independently, and she pops up in the work regularly, as a touchstone in the organization of ideas. Similarly, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s work comes up regularly in conversation, and we flip between somatic conversations and discussions of TV shows and every day life in Stockholm and Auckland. We sometimes contain this flipping in the use of brackets. Doing this allows us to incorporate simultaneity into the work – passages of writing that refer to many things at once can sit inside/beside each other while still holding independent structural integrity.