… That’s what you had to come back for: the lament that we omitted. Can you hear me? I would like to fling my voice out like a cloth over the fragments of your death, and keep pulling at it until it is torn to pieces, and all my words would have to walk around shivering, in the tatters of that voice; as if lament were enough.
But now I must accuse: not the man who withdrew you from yourself (I cannot find him; he looks like everyone), but in this one man, I accuse: all men. When somewhere, from deep within me, there arises the vivid sense of having been a child, the purity and essence of that childhood where I once lived: then I don’t want to know it. I want to form an angel from that sense and hurl him upward, into the front row of angels who scream out, reminding God.
For this suffering has lasted far too long; none of us can bear it; it is too heavy — this tangled suffering of spurious love which, building on convention like a habit, calls itself just, and fattens on injustice. Show me a man with a right to his possession. Who can possess what cannot hold its own self, but only, now and then, will blissfully catch itself, then quickly throw itself away, like a child playing with a ball. As little as a captain can hold the carved Nike facing outward from his ship’s prow when the lightness of her godhead suddenly lifts her up, into the bright sea-wind: so little can one of us call back the woman who, now no longer seeing us, walks on along the narrow strip of her existence as though by miracle, in perfect safety — unless, that is, he wishes to do wrong. For this is wrong, if anything is wrong: not to enlarge the freedom of a love with all the inner freedom one can summon. We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.
Are you still here? Are you standing in some corner? You knew so much of all this, you were able to do so much; you passed through life so open to all things, like an early morning. I know: women suffer; for love means being alone; and artists in their work sometimes intuit that they must keep transforming, where they love. You began both; both exist in that which any fame takes from you and disfigures. Oh you were far beyond all fame; were almost invisible; had withdrawn your beauty, softly, as one would lower a brightly colored flag on the gray morning after a holiday. You had just one desire: a year’s long work — which was never finished; was somehow never finished. If you are still here with me, if in this darkness there is still some place where your spirit resonates on the shallow sound waves stirred up by my voice: hear me: help me. We can so easily slip back from what we have struggled to attain, abruptly, into a life we never wanted; can find that we are trapped, as in a dream, and die there, without ever waking up. This can occur. Anyone who has lifted his blood into a years-long work may find that he can’t sustain it, the force of gravity is irresistible, and it falls back, worthless. For somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work. Help me, in saying it, to understand it.
Do not return. If you can bear to, stay dead with the dead. The dead have their own tasks. But help me, if you can without distraction, since in me what is most distant sometimes helps.
[Translator: Stephen Mitchell]
Live non-verbal improvisation performed in absolute darkness, interacting with a cellphone recording from the day before, at The Window, an evening of experimental music, performance and visual art at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Observatory, Cape Town, 29 January 2017.
“It’s not easy to improvise… It’s the most difficult thing to do. Even when one improvises in front of a camera or microphone, one ventriloquizes or leaves another to speak in one’s place the schemas and languages that are already there. There are already a great number of prescriptions that are prescribed in our memory and in our culture. All the names are already pre-programmed. It’s already the names that inhibit our ability to ever really improvise. One can’t say what ever one wants, one is obliged more or less to reproduce the stereotypical discourse. And so I believe in improvisation and I fight for improvisation. But always with the belief that it’s impossible. And there where there is improvisation I am not able to see myself. I am blind to myself. And it’s what I will see, no, I won’t see it. It’s for others to see. The one who is improvised here… no, I won’t ever see him.”
— Jacques Derrida, unpublished interview, 1982, reproduced in David Toop’s Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970, Bloomsbury, 2016, pg 21.
Gonna get otherworldly at The Window tonight with these creatures, and many others. Darkness and light @TheatreArtsAdminCollective, Methodist Church, cnr Wesley & Milton Rds, Observatory. The portal opens at 7:30.
20:00 – Main Hall – Lliezel Ellick / Roxanne De Freitas / Rosemary Lombard (vocal performance piece)
20:25 – Main Hall – Louise Westerhout /Keenan Chas Ahrends / Nicola van Straaten (word/sound/dance)
20:40 – Minor Hall – Inka Kendzia / Jessica Smith (video and live performance)
21:00 – Main Hall – Rhea Dally / Justin Allart (sound/noise performance)
21:20 – Main Hall – Lucy Hazard / Puleng Lange-Stewart / Hannah Walton (video with spoken word performance)
21:35 – Minor Hall – FAITH XVII (video installation)
22:00 – Main Hall – Chantelle Gray (performance piece)
22:20 – Main Hall – Debra Pryor / Mark O’ Donovan (performance piece)
Continuous – Meeting Room 1 – Sydelle Willow Smith (photography)
Continuous – Meeting Room 2 – Miranda Moss (installation)
A window I. A partition. A voyeuristic interface between spaces. A civilizing constraint. Gazing. At the window, through the window, beyond the window. The voyeuristic gaze: preconditioned values, assumptions, desire. The civilizing gaze: conditioning values, assumptions, desire. Gazing. An act of memorializing (it suggests spectatorship, a fetishistic surveying; it suggests participation: in memory, in meaning-making).
A window II. A framing device. Commonly used in art and cinema. To exaggerate part or parts of a figure (forms, tones, shapes, shadows). To recompose an image. To slice up the world into smaller, more wieldy frames. To elicit metaphorical interpretation. (The audience is prompted to step into a world of windows.)
A window III. The window. A composing stratagem. (A perspectival arrangement.) A voyeuristic interface between artist and audience. An invitation to interact with the unknown, the unknowable, the known known. It is not a linear perspective of space, but a cutting up of, slicing into, carving through. (It suggests the existence of another, entirely otherworldly, place.)
“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
– Gilles Deleuze
We will be at The Window on Sunday. You have been warned.