Thursday, October 3, 2013

TO BE GLORIFIED by Zahra Killeen-Chance


A new solo work by Zahra Killeen-Chance

3rd - 5th October 9pm Basement Theatre

Featuring new music by Samin Son

Lighting Amber Molloy 

reflections by val smith:

The background story to this piece of writing about TO BE GLORFIED, by Zahra Killeen-Chance, is a conversation that emerged between Sean Curham, Jonny Almario, Christina Houghton and myself as we walked to our cars and homes last night after the show. The content of this conversation oscillated between thoughts regarding Zahra’s work and Sean’s response to the recent CNZ online forum about funding structures. What is foregrounding for me in this writing is my own response to a vision of what CNZ as a funding system could be if we let ourselves think outside of the box, quite literally. Sean’s ideas for change alongside the experience of seeing Zahra’s work has re-sparked in me a belief about how reimagining our systems, agencies, and communities can change it all, and it can change how art is being made. And bigger than that, I am reminded of how reimagining can change how the world is thinking about the world, and that is a really powerful thing to attend to. This realization recognizes how conversation and the sharing of ideas through art practices contribute to a fluid system of thinking that pools and leaks and merges across perceived boundaries. Through this system of thinking, differences and variant perspectives bleed into each other; across opinions, beliefs and actions, across hugely divergent fields of interest. We are constantly downloading each other’s paradigms. In languages or forms of communication beyond our comprehension we are becoming each other, deforming and reforming ourselves in relation to the world. But still we insist on being different from each other. So why is that?

I begin this writing by sitting here thinking about some of the beliefs we hold as artists engaged in our respective professions. Somehow calling into question the WHY of what we are doing.

dear zahra and sean
thanks for sharing your thoughts and visions with the world
i have been reminded of a bigger picture in relation to what we do in dance - the purpose of why we do it
one thread regarding what you are communicating that is sticking with me today, uncoiling with me, is the scrutinizing of our beliefs. professionally we take so many commonly shared beliefs for granted, not looking at what it is that we believe in.

like reviewing a performance. is there a bigger purpose here?

i liked how you opened up a space for considering how philosophical slash theoretical thought and religious slash theosophical thought are embedded through each other. a contagion of thought and behavior which operates beyond our control.

i am thinking of Edmond Jabes’ The Book of Questions as one example of how paradigms merge and shift between the conceptual worlds of literature, religion and philosophy.

it is in this space that you have revealed how meanings can translate and morph across and through different fields. even when the beliefs that meaning holds on to seem completely at odds with one another. such as with Science and Art.

do you really believe in your art? can any of us say that we really believe in what we do?

i am reminded of how the way we style our work can affect people in profound ways, different styles affecting us in different ways. a proto-religious or ritualistic styling of ideas and words (like the hymn-like mantras we were reading off the projections) can change how the mind takes in the information.

I am thinking about brainwashing.

I find myself responding to the words and their corresponding ideas or feelings in ways that take me back to being brought up in a Methodist church in Helensville, with Sunday School teachers for parents. In that big cavernous wooden church on the hill, where I spent so many Sunday mornings, the kinds of stylized ritual events that took place, have stayed with me, they have formed in my body a kind of rhythm that feels familiar. such as with singing and listening, and walking up an aisle flanked by rows of faces. rhythms and textures of experiences have been infected into my body. responses to ordered socialized happenings.

what is it about religion that someone believes in? is it the structure that strikes a chord?

rituals infect us in ways I don’t think are easily describable. a neat methodical style that relaxes the mind in ways where words and meanings sink in

is there a kind of faith at play here? do we pin faith on the performer? do we pin hope?

some might call this ‘being made susceptible,’ but this phrase invokes a sense of disempowerment that doesn’t quite sit right with my experience of religious ritual. There is an element of how choice and an agreement to participate influences how experience moves through us, and potentially moves us.

which brings this train of thought to intention. same old, intention wins every time. The stronger the intention or the directed will, the sharper the impact, or so we are led to believe…

so, why do you dance?

as someone sitting in the racked seating watching a performance, i am also someone making choices to move within their ‘profession’; i believe there are always options available.

what choices do you believe are available to you right her now?

looking at these options in play, an audience member of TO BE GLORFIED can choose to keep their mind operating in a more critical state where information filters through a lens of acute awareness, or they could‘let themselves go’or relax’ such as the programme notes for TO BE GLORFIED asks us to do.

Following the first option words enter into my system in a particular way, if I think of it as an image, it looks geometric or mathematical, words move to particular compartments of my brain, my limbs. Following the second option a sense of the melody and tones of what you are saying sinks into me, into my tissues, in more nomadic fashion. the words themselves are felt in the body, they shift around and change shape. and somehow, i don’t know how, a sense of meaningfulness emerges.

why do we think our way is the right way?

How this transmission of information works physiologically or at a cognitive level, I would love to know more about, but this sense of unknowing reminds me of the value and inevitability of not knowing. ha.

what do I want to say?

So considering belief and how it influences the pathways we take as artists, i am asking myself now if there is really anything i feel compelled to say here? something that has a sense that it is known enough and is significant enough to warrant a mention?
Well there is.
I can’t give up the convictions I have inside. it’s an intuitive thing I reckon. Your work, THE PROFESSION, systems, art practices, and our relationships with it all matters. I intuitively believe that art matters. that dance is important. and even though I don’t know any of this with any certainty, and you claim that you don’t either, I still feel like I do, know that is, and that you do too.

A game of languaging, of dreaming is seeping out like long fingers, enabling spaces for thinking the future. And this writing, being a lie and a parable, ends now with a quote from last night:

“Why not think big?”


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