The second day at the New Museum felt really productive. It was good to have more time the second time to explore and also the basic foundations of the previous afternoon. I definitely felt the sense of potential that we'd been talking about as "neutral body," that energetic potential. At the end of the night, despite some soreness and tiredness, my body felt really primed. Ready for anything.
Things that stuck out the most to me were the walking meditation, jumping in a line, the air fight dance. I was sad that we didn't do the 'about to speak' action and I've been thinking a lot about that one since the New Museum.
I think I also landed on a much deeper understanding of neutral body as a body with potential after the second day. Understanding certain fundamental feelings about balance from the previous day, and having the opportunity to push my body past some of its limits with durational actions, I really tapped into a physical state where I was constantly regenerating momentum. And personally, I loved the feeling of moving through physical soreness and fatigue. I find with other physical activities I do like weight training, the moment of sensing my body's limit is this interesting place to push further. And sensations like soreness bring awareness to me of which muscles are activated. Almost as though the potential is highlighted by physical sensation.
It took awhile to get everything in balance--to keep my mind and physicality where it needed to be, to brighten and look backwards rather than lose focus forward and become a zombie, to hold my posture and get the rhythm of my feet and weight shifting into a natural movement forward. I would go in and out of awareness of my thoughts and awareness of my body. Eventually I found the automatic rhythm of motion and I was able to get lost in the meditation. I loved having this dull awareness of the scenes building around my periphery. I found it hard to keep balance when close to other bodies. Their heat or movement, or having to walk between them, really threw me off. When the meditation walk ended, suddenly my body awareness came back to me and I realized how much my body hurt. In the meditation, those sensations were really dulled.
Jumping in a Line
This was really interesting to me and I wondered how it was to witness it. I really liked the motion of it--jumping in place and feeling the line shift around me. And I was surprised to feel really comfortable and free when I was jumping naked. I was curious what was evoked when I was naked and had my back to the audience. I was thinking that of all the un/dressed actions, jumping in a line and tension/no tension were most interesting. I didn't feel very drawn to the un/dressing. Maybe that's because the movement is so pedestrian that something is lost. Standing naked or moving naked in a sea of dressed bodies feels interesting. But even though the un/dressing was durational, it didn't evoke anything for me to watch. I wonder what would have changed if there was a pile of clothes and dancers pulled from the pile and dressed in absurd ways in many many layers and then shed all those layers.
This was my favorite. Now that I think about it, there is so much in this simple exercise that speaks to neutral body. At the time, I just liked the way it felt and the immediacy of action/reaction. In order to do it, you really had to pick up every moment of movement and react in a way that made sense. It was like a conversation between bodies. Thinking on it now, I think the moment of waiting in between taking a "punch" or throwing one is the moment of the neutral body. Sometimes it's only a split second, but nonetheless, you are waiting and listening for what's next. This to me is the moment of potential. Alert listening in between clear enunciation of movement. In those tiny pauses between action, I felt like my body and mind were one, attentive, and ready.
When we began talking about neutral body, I thought about passivity and stillness. I thought of sitting meditation and how you keep your body upright and present, but motionless so that movement around and inside can easily pass without disturbing you. I also felt initially that the neutral body is impossible. That there is no such thing as a neutral body since there are always forces in motion (even in stillness) and also socio-politically, no body is free of signifiers so long as people hold ideas about one another, as well as histories. Thinking about the potential of neutral body brings in another level of understanding, however. And feeling the sensations of passing between im/balance, un/dressing, motion/lessness, I understand the existence of the neutral body.
Thinking about future body, I immediately thought of two things: 1) transgender bodies (bodies that are transcendent of gender peripheries), and 2) bodies differently affected by environmental health and increasing disparities in access to health and nutrition. I'm not sure exactly what I think about future body after our action-studies. Maybe future body to me is the body beyond human movement, rote or patterned movement, and pedestrian expectation. Perhaps future body is breaking from the millions of years of learned movement and thought, and responding to sensations we have learned to ignore or suppress. Maybe future body is the whole body, each part of it and it as a whole, activated and ready to become.
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