For workshop descriptions click on the individual links in the workshop booking page.
Presenter biographies || Performance descriptions || Film synopses || Exhibition
see individual workshops) OR you will find all these items under the ‘for Delegates’ main menu.
Session abstracts / descriptions
listed in alphabetical order of first named presenter.
Look elsewhere for FILM information, EXHIBITION listings and WORKSHOPS
Dr Sarah Abbott (Keynote)
Somatic Awareness for Interspecies Communication, Collaboration, and Equitable Relations with the Vegetal World
Monday 27 • 13.40 – 15.10
The proposed presentation centers on subtle embodied practices that inform inner intuitive knowing for communication and collaboration between humans and the vegetal world. Discussion of these approaches involving respect, recognition, interaction, and reciprocity with trees, plants, and nonhumans overall are grounded in my recently completed interdisciplinary social science doctoral research, titled Tree Knowing: Ethnographic Encounters, Sensuous Scholarship, Relational Ontologies, and Environmental Empathy. Trees are agentic beings with sentient intelligence, perception, consciousness, and the ability to communicate between themselves and with other species, including humans. Trees are “biosocial becomings,” as anthropologists Tim Ingold and Gísli Pálsson (2008) holistically understand the ongoing development of nonhuman and human lives, evolving equally and intrinsically through both biological and social influences. Trees’ unique life-ways, intentions, and perspectives are meaningful to trees themselves, informed by their own life force, purpose, and interconnections with the environment(s) they interact with as home and community. Western anthropocentric, reductionist, materialist, consumerist, and colonial ideologies that largely treat leafy beings as inert, “indifferent and insensate” (Marder, 2013) objects existing to support human wellbeing evolved from animist and relational sensibilities that explicitly recognize aliveness and kinship between all living beings, and are fundamental to Indigenous cultures that know, respect and incorporate interrelations with nonhumans in their engagements with the world. In many Indigenous worldviews, trees, plants and nonhumans overall are persons, relatives, and teachers. Metaphysical, experiential acts of communication between trees and humans arose as methods and findings in my doctoral research. Mindful practices of awareness and connection with trees include the interconnected sensual, embodied methods of engaged meditative presence, deep listening, intuitive perception, and open inquisitive engagement that welcomes the unexpected. Such approaches develop “subtler sensitivities” for “attunements to other sentiences” (Natasha Myers, 2017). Practicing these somatic engagements develop and expand a quietened “open space to move in, with the whole body, the whole mind” (Gary Snyder, 1992), and the whole inner plane of knowing. They work together in what I came to refer to as the intuitive field. As acts of communication unfold, at times via overlapping senses, “thinking alongside the human” moves beyond limitations of left-brained, logical and linear knowing informed by modern education systems to make space for communicative, collaborative exchanges with trees and other beings of nature. The rational mind plays an important, active role in discernment that assists the process of knowing when messaging comes from trees or other beings. Humans can access and engage knowing with trees and nonhumans innately and/or through (re)learning these practices. Knowing in our bodies that, as Michael Marder (2013) puts it, “vegetal life is coextensive with a distinct subjectivity with which we might engage, and which engages us more frequently than we imagine” is paradigm shifting and cannot help but deepen, (re)connect, and (re)activate eco-empathy and eco-relationships with beings beyond the human, and ultimately with ourselves for humans are and of nature.
Beatrice Allegranti with Foluke Taylor, Stella Duffy OBE, Yolanta Opacka, Sharon Watson MBE & Alice Bell
PANEL More-than-human Activism
Tuesday 28 • 17.00 – 18.10 • Studio 6
A panel discussion between current collaborators: Beatrice Allegranti (choreographer, filmmaker, trauma-informed psychotherapist, feminist scholar), Foluke Taylor (trauma-informed psychotherapist and writer), Stella Duffy OBE (writer, activist, theatre maker, psychotherapist in training), Emily Bohobo N’Dombaxe Dola (youth climate activist, Storytelling Director at Youth4Nature).
The panel discussion will be moderated by Beatrice Allegranti and offer an introduction to current developments of transdisciplinary and intersectional feminisms situated at the intersections of choreography trauma-focused psychotherapy and climate activism (Allegranti 2019; 2020; Allegranti and Silas 2021; Allegranti 2021). This conversational exchange will explore the extent to which the more-than-human is integral to everyday life, and how to bring moving bodies (and the intersectional politics therein) in line with anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic movements and climate justice. The discussion aims to highlight the transformational potential of the moving body, dance and choreography as transversal practice leading into a wider (contextually and relationally contingent) ecologies. A short documentary-in-progress will be shown, and audience participants will be invited to respond in (micro)movement, as a way of kinaesthetically grounding the discussion.
Dr Tamara Ashley
Ethics of environmental care: chronic pain and ecological destruction
Tuesday 28 • 15.15 – 15.45 • Studio 6
Ethics of environmental care: grief, chronic pain and ecological destruction
Grief, injury, chronic pain and illness are natural processes of living. The navigation of these experiences can bring new relationships to the body and mind as we negotiate and face suffering and try to find some relief. This presentation offers a personal experiential insight into my own somatic and embodied relationships to the environment through the experiences of injury, chronic pain, grief and loss. I discuss the process of mourning and how the body-mind-environment relationships change through the process of loss; loss of movement mobility, loss of health, loss of a loved one and any other kind of loss that one might encounter. Qualitative experiences such as heightened sensitivity, changing relationships to nature and animals are considered, as is the importance of practice rituals and finding situations in which one can be witnessed and supported in the processes of coming to terms with suffering.
In this era of ecological destruction, there is collective grief and suffering as the environments that support us become more stressed, die off or out of balance. How can dance and somatic practice contribute to the development of an ethics of care in the environment, an ethics that supports the health of body, mind and environment? The presentation considers activist ecological performance practice, and nature immersion as well as everyday practice.
Verena van den Berg
Sus – Homo
Monday 27 • 19.00 – 19.45 • online
The bodies of pigs (belonging to the Sus family) have such similarity to ours that they are commonly used to simulate human bodies (of the Homo family) in scientific research. Tissue is transplanted from their bodies into ours. They are also the most intelligent animal we keep. Yet the welfare standards we find acceptable for them are very low and we have a lot of derogatory language associated with them. Fascinated by this complex relationship I went on a research journey meeting pigs, scientists, farmers, artists and members of the general public. I found the scientific community particularly helpful because they have actually spent time studying the languages and customs of animals groups. When wanting to reverse a relationship based on (ab)use, investing time to get to know the other is surely the place to start. I wanted to see if equal communication was possible and what I would need to learn to enter into it. I was also looking for ways to capture pig creativity. And to orchestrate equal meetings between other humans and pigs. In this presentation I will share the work of some of the researchers that inspired me, videos of pigs and the various experiments we did together.
Please bring 3 food items that have a particular smell to the session.
Tuesday 28 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 6
Resisting Extinction offers practices for living and dying together on a damaged earth. Resisting Extinction invites us to not only look forward but to look around and notice what we are losing. This ecological crisis is an identity crisis. Everything is shifting. Recognizing grief as a legitimate response to this multi-species mass extinction is a vital step to expand our understanding of what it means to be alive in this swiftly transforming moment. We can’t rely on models that perpetuate this crisis. We need to practice embodied knowing to repair our relational field. We must hone our skills. to improvise, to play, to experiment, to be receptive, to be in the unknown and trust we have the resources in our bodies to negotiate, survive, and thrive.
Resisting Extinction unfolds as a series of three experiences:
-“weather walk” is a one-on-one performance journey. We will transform our small talk about the weather into big talk about the climate emergency.
-“the missing” is an invisible performance that flickers on the periphery of our consciousness where a critically endangered multi-species being haunts the landscape.
-Participatory grieving practices. Should we grieve our own potential extinction?
Credits: Concept: Olive Bieringa Directors: Olive Bieringa & Otto Ramstad Co-creating performers: Maria Lothe, Sigrid Marie Kittelsaa Vesaas, Ornilia Ubisse, Hanna Filomen Mjåvatn, Kristina Gjems, Otto Ramstad, Olive Bieringa, Nina Wollny and Uma Ramstad Costume design: Kristine Gjems Contributing writer: Laressa Dickey Funders and partners: Oslo Municipality, Kulturrådet, KORO – Public Art Norway, the Nordic residency at SITE in Farsta, Sweden, Klimahuset, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norskfolkemuseum, Bygdø Kongsgard, Oslo Kulturnatt, DansiT, University of the Arts Helsinki. Manat? Taonga | NZ Ministry for Culture & Heritage.
Helen Billinghurst & Dr Laura Denning
Tuesday 28 • 16.15 – 16.45 • Studio 3
We will offer a walking performance presentation to share the two lines of enquiry that intersect at a tiny, remote village on Southern Dartmoor called Harford. Each of these research paths are anchored to physical routes on the ground. The first route traces the River Erme northwards from where it joins the sea at Wonwell/Mothecombe, through ancient salt pans, towards to its heavily mined source on Dartmoor. The second route runs Northeast from Plymouth through sites of mineral extraction and ecological decimation; tracing ghosts of the last wolves on Dartmoor. Artists Laura Denning and Helen Billinghurst will work together with the landscape of Dartington to share the sensory, folkloric, geographic, historic and ecological weavings of these intersecting trails. Diagrammatic walking and collective howling will transmit tacit knowledge obtained by moving through, being with and repeatedly returning to these sites over several years. The presented research will be supported by theorist and cultural geographer Doreen Massey, Sam George’s study of werewolves, literature and landscape, Donna Haraway’s work ‘When Species Meet’ (2007), and Patricia MacCormac’s discussion of ‘Deleuze and the demonlogical text’ (2014). The river has flowed through language over the centuries, variously surfacing as Aramis/Aranus/Armis/Irym/Hyrm/Irm/Erm/Arme/Erme – all revealing the physical mobility of language. Rendering these sounds as wiggling, wriggling, walking in lines, whilst using call and response as a metaphor for non-human dark dwellers, we reveal the ways in which convergence of these intersections is the story. Moving as a pack, we track down and share scraps of information and found fragments: scents, story, poem and ritual action; bone, tungsten, china clay, water and wool.
Dr Julie Brixey-Williams
A Labour of Attentiveness
Wednesday 29 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 3
R.D Laing’s Archway community, depicted in Robinson’s film Asylum (1972) can be analysed as a system of material and contextual engagement, I define as a Labour of Attentiveness: an emergent nexus of relationality and ethical care that fosters closer authentic relationships via small material acts, in contexts, across qualities of time. By concentrating on the dynamic, interrelated relationships of bodies, objects and environment Laing’s controversial legacy can be reappraised by being repositioned within the “turn to matter” philosophies of New Materialisms.
The work I will introduce in my Artist’s Talk is one place-responsive project “A Light Through the Clouds” from my Practice-as-Research PhD in Fine Art, (2018-2021) developed using Laing’s model of navigation through matter towards playful, unexpected co-constitutive outcomes. This non-hierarchical approach of assemblage and unfolding of the many, has particular value for place practitioners who, by embracing the boundaries of multiple disciplines in their practices, identify as “edge-dwelling”. I will briefly outline the processes in play in Laing’s Archway Community to place my work in context, then present a visual slide show, alongside spoken experiential written responses to describe my process. This will unfold from the initial “being with”, through playful, shared small acts of body and place, journeying to the filmed performed outcome that seeks to establish a multi-modal, embodied relationship with place. These include introducing vintage found material into the present, placing text in place-responsive ways and vocalising, allowing place to influence the use of objects and the body and surrendering intent to a process of segue and navigation.
I will then introduce, as a series of gallery documentations, how the resulting elements can be re- sited as installation, opening further new entry points for reflection.
My results show that a Labour of Attentiveness holds a space for a nuanced dialogue via vulnerability, where co-constitutive dynamic engagement through small acts may be radical and personally transformative, and where interrogation and trust deepen through time. This challenges the traditional concepts of tangible artistic production, raising questions of how the processes of edge-dwelling practitioners may be valued and supported within interdisciplinary exchange.
Nature Speaking | Nature Writing – a panel of authors discuss ways of bringing wildness into the human form of ‘book’ chaired by Andrew Carey /Triarchy Press
Sunday 26 • 20.30 – 22.00
Many of us are practising manifold ways of distilling our embodied experience into language. Andrew Carey from Triarchy Press will chair this session with five authors who have written about their own embodied journeys and practices: Alyson Hallett, Paula Kramer, Claire Loussouarn, Hayley Marshall, Carran Waterfield. Together they will reflect on these questions:
- How do you bring your lived experience in and among other than human worlds into your writing?
- How does your own embodiment/movement/somatic practice inform your written language?
- How has this found its way into the shape of a book?
The session will include a Q&A with our audience.
Lucy Cash, Mark Jeffery, Judd Morrisey, Dr Sara Jane Bailes
PANEL Conversation in the Form of a Hedge Lay and a Cow Lick
Tuesday 28 • 17.00 – 18.00 • Studio 3
‘Conversation…’ is a carefully scored conversation and screening of a film by Mark Jeffery and Lucy Cash – ‘Winterage: Last Milk’ The film which combines performance to camera, animation and observational footage considers the thousand-year history of a farm in rural Doveridge, in Derbyshire, UK, and how it folds around the childhood and later life of queer, Chicago-based artist, Mark Jeffery. Parsing the vernacular of Mark’s childhood – hedgelaying, tending to cattle and land – within the vocabulary of expanded choreography, Winterage: Last Milk considers the film image itself as a collaborator as well as a material akin to fabric or clay. Returning to his childhood home in December 2019 to memorialise personal loss, and extending his body via the wearable sculptures of Grace Duval, Mark’s choreography brings forward the mineral and animal in all of us within a film composition that considers connections and interdependence between place, language, loss and movement. For this session we propose screening the film and then unfolding a conversation between three artists (Lucy, Mark and Judd) and an artist-scholar (Sara Jane). We have all worked together previously in different contexts and our interest is in creating a form of conversation which is inclusive for the audience present. Not just through giving space for audience comment and questions but more integrally in offering 1 or 2 small tasks for the audience to engage in somatically and imaginatively (whilst seated) and which may orientate the conversation in unpredictable, generative ways. The film is 21 minutes, which would allow approx 35 minutes of conversation. Despite chance intervention being welcomed we are also interested in the scoring of time and attention and as such part of our shared expertise is in adhering to particular time frames with gentle precision. “Uncanny and unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The film brings so many different agencies together and distributes them (human/nonhuman, physical body, animated body, physical landscape, animated landscape, text, physical sound, mediated sound, song). These are all inseparable from personal/social history, pop cultures and hidden cultures, queer cultures, wild/unbounded space, confined space, climate change…” Lin Hixson (Every House Has A Door)
Dr Pavel Cenkl
Running and Resilience in the Arctic
Monday 27 • 12.30 – 13.00 • Studio 1
Dr. Pavel Cenkl, Director of Learning at Dartington Trust & Head of Schumacher College and a practicing athlete will share his experiences of movement, vulnerability and resilience in the face of climate change in the Arctic.
Dr Pavel Cenkl, Dr Rachel Sweeney & Dr Marie Metenier
Embodied Ecology / MA Movement Mind & Ecology, an introduction
to reimagining education in 21st century
Monday 27 • 15.15 – 15.45 • Studio 1
This session is presented by Dr Pavel Cenkl, Director of Schumacher College and Dr Rachel Sweeney, Program Lead for the Masters in Movement Mind and Ecology together colleague Dr Marie Metenier. We will reflect on our Movement, Mind and Ecology Master’s program offered through Schumacher College, UK which connects communities across different geographic locations using an hybrid teaching framework that recognises the potential of transformative education across disciplines. This program aims through transdisciplinary embodied practice delivered across hybrid platforms, to connect global students across different ecological worlds through movement-based thinking and immersive encounters with the more-than-human. In the context of our global pandemic, we recognise the importance of promoting and connecting resilient learning communities mapping across bio-regions in response to distinct ecological challenges moving at different scales. This paper will reflect on how Schumacher College provides a holistic and transformative educational framework that encourages a unique intersection of embodied practice, environmental philosophy, and ecological thinking.
Nicola Chalmers, Elisa de Grey & Sarah May
Groundwork: spell-ing it out
Monday 27 • 12.30 – 13.00 • Studio 3
A multi-layered performative offering that explores the savage and abundant sensuality of the natural world and our entanglement with it.
Moving a body of academic research, voice notes, field trips, anecdotal conversation, meditative practice and horticultural enquiry in the direction of spell-making, GROUNDWORK : SPELL-ING IT OUT invokes the archetype most closely associated with the magic of the earth, the witch, to explore what it means to be engaged in a form of perpetual creation with other-than-human species. Chalmers · May · de Grey identifies the witch as one whose deep and intuitive understanding of the natural world invites a practice of ritual and rebirth, tactility, fascination, intimacy and radical permission-giving: a being-with whose fierce and tender energy aligns itself urgently with the need for an eco-somatic language and new words for speaking about anthropogenic harm-doing.
As we attempt a dismantling of the anthropogenic hierarchy – extending arms tentacles tendrils to pick at knots and press at the earth and split hairs and close fists barking spiralling beating secreting knowledge roaring our colours coursing our roots bending to light crouching in shadow – our aim is to articulate a muscular treatise on the transformative power of listening. What do we sound like to other species? How are we felt by the land as we move over it, through it, nestle ourselves into it?
With gentle guidance, we invite our audience to meditate on their visceral relationship to atmosphere, aura and physicality, tending to the elements alive in the space and participating in what we hope to be an incisive, empowering and complicated operation of mesmeric sway.
Monday 27 • 17.00 – 17.30 • Studio 3
I will share a prototype performance which I am developing as part of a new research project on the archaeological body. With ‘archaeological body’ I refer to both the body of the archaeologist and the entangled bodies of earth, object and process encountered during archaeological digs. In this work, I would like to respond to two of the questions from the callout:
How do somatic practices inform our work with plants and animals, when we relate from one body to another ?
How do artists (or archaeologists) work with the visceral of their environments and materials? How does their work invite us into somatic relationships?
Archaeology is a somatic practice often overlooked within movement studies; however archaeologists are situated at the interface of entangled human and more-than-human worlds, and their interpretations assemble both pasts and futures from within the present. These interpretations have the power to give voice and agency to the more-than-human, or to exclude them. Archaeological encounters with ground, trace, imprint, decay, and affect are rich and subtle, their eyes attuned to fractional differences in shade or tone, their hands and arms sensitive to the faintest change in soil texture. The archaeological body is specialised.
Specifically, in this work I will be exploring acts of touch; minute differences in the quality and texture of soil, and how it holds memories or traces of action as well as live processes of becoming and unbecoming/dissolving; acts of looking with the body, and archaeologies of enchantment; a critique of the grounds’ surface as a perceived layer between present and past; and archaeological posturing. The work, which is still in development, will be presented as a spoken word narrative combined with moving image focusing on close-up encounters between skin and earth, hand and arm gestures, and gripping found objects. Depending on how the piece evolves, there is also an additional possibility of a simple performance using soil/sand, object and body, to be performed in tandem with the moving image.
The Future is Soft
Monday 27 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 1
I am artist, filmmaker and researcher, my practice reaches towards unknown territories, exploring the complex relationships between humans and the-more-than human world. Informed by my rural upbringing it questions how we are shaped by our environment in the face of our current ecological crisis. I propose to share my project The Future is Soft, which questions what humans can learn from horses about power and leadership. It is the result of a year-long research process where I documented a range of equine and human-equine encounters including filming wild horses in the Carneddau mountains, working with horse whisperers as well as documenting and participating in EAL (Equine Assisted Leadership) programs.
The project excavates my own embodied knowledge of growing up with horses, whilst challenging how I might approach filming and gaining their consent. This question has become more pronounced after an intensive period of research into the nuanced body language and communication at play in human horse interactions in practices of natural horsemanship and horse whispering.
This research also led me to consider how experiential embodied interactions with horses are being used in the corporate world in leadership training programs. For this presentation I propose to discuss a range of artworks including a series of choreographic drawings from horse whispering interactions.
A series of short training videos, which examines Equine Assisted Leadership (EAL) horse- led business leadership training, exploring herd dynamics and soft power through human-horse translations. The training videos are an attempt to immerse myself and the viewer in the world of Equine Assisted Leadership which claims to utilise the natural characteristics of horses and herd dynamics through a range of experiential embodied exercises and human-horse interactions to develop stronger more empathetic leaders.
The workshops use a combination of classroom- styled exercises and metaphorical situations to create training opportunities for individuals and groups, to reach certain business and personal development goals. This project considers both the unique forms of embodied communication happening between human and horse as well as the commodification of this type of interspecies development work and the different power dynamics at play between human and horse. I have been experimenting with ways of filming that invert the predatory visual system of the camera and incorporating the 300° prey vision of horses, using 360° film and multi-screen projection. Another strand of this project is the long- term filmic documentation of wild Welsh mountain ponies on the Londmynd (where I grew up) and the Carneddau mountains considering human management of the land and other animal bodies.
I will present a section of my film The Gathering, which documents the annual Carneddau pony gathering in Llainfairfechan in Wales where a community of farmers and conservationists gather the horses from the cervices of over 20miles of mountain range, to bring them off the peaks for a health check. It explores interspecies shared knowledge of the mountain terrain and the complications of care and control bound in this human- horse relationship.
20 Years with the Blast Hole Pond River in 20 Minutes
Tuesday 28 • 15.15 – 15.45 • Studio 3
This presentation explores some projects done over the 20 years of my bodily engagement with the Blast Hole Pond River, which flows through the patch of old-growth boreal forest where I live and work in Newfoundland, Canada.
These projects present what my senses have grasped when I’ve been with the river — either in, on, or near it — through various weather conditions, in all seasons, between 2002–2022:
1. Standing in the river:
– Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light (excerpt from the series in jpg #1) http://www.marlenecreates.ca/works/2003water.html
– About 81⁄2 Minutes from the Sun to the Moon to the River to My Face to the Camera http://www.marlenecreates.ca/works/2012minutes.html
2. Touching the different textures of bark on individual trees in the river’s watershed: – Larch, Spruce, Fir, Birch, Hand (excerpt from the series in jpg #2) http://www.marlenecreates.ca/works/2007larch.html
3 & 4. Lying on and beside the river: – Between the Earth and the Firmament:
• On the Frozen Blast Hole Pond River, Winter 2020 (jpg #3)
• On the Large Boulder in the Blast Hole Pond River, Summer 2020 (jpg #4) • On the Bedrock at the Riverbend, Summer 2020 http://www.marlenecreates.ca/works/2020between.html
5. Walking beside the river:
– Ways of Walking, a spoken word poem.
I would love to come to the symposium, but I will be finishing a 5-week artist residency in British Columbia on July 3, just when “Sentient Performativities” starts. Consequently, I would have to present remotely via Zoom because of the distance (about 8,000 km) and the time difference (8 hours). I hope this can be worked out.
Dr Anna Dako
Dances with Sheep: On RePairing Human- Nature Condition in Felt Thinking and Moving towards Wellbeing
Tuesday 28 • 10.30 – 11.00 • Studio 6
Anna Dako will share about her film project Forest Within: A site-specific movement production on Selfhood, Sanity and Intangible Treasures within Human Kind(ness) which was conducted during the Covid Pandemic in 2020 in Scotland forests. With movement artists Laura Booth, Shayne Lilith-Moon and Sofia Kondylia and filmmaker Bircan Birol.
Livia Daza Paris
Performance & Presentation: My Hundred Burials: a “Nepantla” Crossing of Waters and Territories
Tuesday 28 – 19.00 – 19.45 (online)
My Hundred Burials: a “Nepantla” Crossing of Waters and Territories engages in ways of being with the world that responds to Gloria Anzaldúa’s vision and the notion of nepantla as “the place where transformations are enacted” (Anzaldúa 2015). The work I propose to develop aspires to articulate speculative assemblies between humans and more-than-humans, enacting ethics of care across the American North and South hemispheres. This action intends to explore marginalized histories by activating a dialogue between humans and beyond the human witnesses—including trees, rivers, the land, and the ocean. The performance will enact a figurative and physical journey across eastern Canada to the Caribbean Sea on the Venezuelan coast. It echoes Anzaldúa’s call to take a stand on liminal places of transitions between borders and territories to move between them as nepantla. The performance, I propose, is an emancipatory poetic action that suggests generative forces at play acknowledging, as Anzaldúa writes: “[g]rowth, death, decay, birth. A constant changing of forms, renacimientos de la tierra madre” (Anzaldúa p. 389 1990).
I intend to travel by road from the town of Wakefield—in the Outaouais region of Quebec where I live and what is unceded Anishinaabe First Nations territory—and follow the Ottawa and the St Lawrence rivers towards the ocean, eventually arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I will bring a representative part of the hundreds of trees that have been felled and chainsawed around my home during recent wide and indiscriminate land clearing that has destabilized the forest ecology.
Halifax was a 1700s freedom destination for enslaved Black people coming from the US. I will perform a burial on the Halifax coast, releasing the part of the felled tree body of the felled tree into the ocean as an act of intent that it will be carried by the powerful circulating Atlantic currents to the Venezuelan-Caribbean coast, my country of origin. This evokes transformative relationalities between the human and the more-than-human, enlivened by gestures of care towards the tree-body—and by analogy, the disappeared human body disregarded by oppressive systems.
For presentation at the symposium, I will record this performance on video. Ideally (if technically possible and to be discussed), I would present the final performance by the ocean over consecutive days, July 3 and 4. I would like to join the Postgraduate forum on July 7. Background: My practice-based research
My interdisciplinary practice, with somatic movement at its core, grapples with the critical problem of political disappearance (Aguilar and Kovras 2019). The context is that of US interventionism, systemic coloniality, and nonofficial history of state violence in 1960s Cold War- era rural Venezuela. Admitting notions of “many worlds” (de la Cadena 2018) surrounding the politically disappeared, it draws from my own experience because the disappeared is also my
Disappearance defies representation and resolution. In this research context, the lack of hard material evidence is augmented by the rural conditions of events at the “threshold of detectability” (Weizman 2017). How then can my sensory, kinaesthetic practice reckon with disappearance? It does so with a process emerging within the practice itself that I call poetic forensics—from the Greek root of the word poiesis, to create, and from the Latin forensis, pertaining to a public forum. As investigative art, the process is guided by inklings towards a web of relations between self and world, reflected in the somatic movement, poetic imagery and kinesthetics of SRT, which resonate with a “plurality of ways of knowing” (Kimmerer 2003), including Indigenous onto-epistemological approaches (Tuhiwai-Smith 1999). Poetic forensics asks of disappearance: who else is witness?
Joanna Dobson & Julia Schauerman
Human-bird encounters and the narration of trauma
Monday 27 • 15.15 – 15.45 • Studio 3
An academic paper, interspersed with creative readings, on Joanna’s research into the role of the more-than-human world in narratives of trauma, with a particular emphasis on human-bird encounters. Building on work by van der Kolk (2014) and others on the crucial role of the body in the processing of trauma, this paper will explore, through autoethnography and literary analysis, the possibility that relationships between human and other-than-human entities may facilitate somatic responses that tend towards recovery from traumatic experience.
We will also give a short introduction to the acousmatic story, a method of storytelling that blends spoken word, soundscape recordings and manipulated sounds, and a rationale for why we believe acousmatic storytelling to be a vital mode of narrative for the cataclysmic times in which we live.
Rob Fraser & Dr Harriet Fraser
Still / Walking
Wednesday 29 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 1
a slow unravelling into openness that brings, with time,
the sense of walking in
walking into place
How can walking as art change modes of thinking and feeling, and affect human connection with the more than human world?
Walking is a physical process that can be experienced in different ways – it’s a basic human function after all. But as an arts practice, walking is far more than functional. It can become a ‘bodymind’ meditation; it leads to a dynamic relationship with land and can open up new possibilities of knowing, remembering, learning and imagining that go beyond the cerebral – the whole body is involved.
We’d like to give a presentation to share insights from long distance walks, with poetry, photographic images and video; with time for conversation about walking as an embodied practice that shapes creativity and can dramatically shift perspectives.
For us, walking is essential for the creative process – outdoor spaces are our studios and our space for mental and physical attunement with place. In any location, we enquire into the perspectives of a landscape’s many inhabitants, human and otherwise, and we learn through our bodies. Walking, interspersed with deliberate periods of stillness, is done while listening deeply with all senses: to land, water, weather, animals, and our surrounds, from the small worlds like moss, lichen or bark, to the expanses of watersheds or mountain ranges. As we go, we create.
Ideas and impulses for poetry, photography and installations arise from the twinning of ourselves and the landscapes we walk through. We plan multi-day walks to link sites of temporary installations we have made in response to particular trees, rivers, vistas, shepherding routes, geological formations or conversations; linking these locations underpins their interconnection.
The dynamic, interactive and synchronous inner and outer journey that is a long walk is an antidote to the disconnect of indoor living, and the opposite of abstraction: feet on ground, breath in body, body on land, landforms and weather guiding our steps. We become necessarily mindful; carrying heavy loads, attuned to every foot placement, especially downhill. Being self- sufficient and sleeping out intensifies physical sensitivity. It’s as if the body is trained, through time and practice and by the land itself, to be ‘fit’ (in the Darwinian sense). We don’t
romanticise the idea of walking – there can be pain as well as pleasure, and effort is a huge part of the work. Sometimes we walk not in spite of anticipated difficulty but because of this: severe winds, bitter cold, thick fog, darkness. Going through this brings us fully INTO place, not just ON place: there is a co-dwelling and the land shows us how to act. It also invites us to remove ourselves from the centre of our perspective, and appreciate our place in an entangled network of life. Sometimes, as thoughts fall away, and there is only the body-land context, or a single point of attention such as a tree, a bird, a stone, boundaries between self and other become blurred.
Airborne Signalling and Practices of Receptivity
Monday 27 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 3
As a form of communication, plants release volatile compounds into the air – small broadcasts of airborne information. In moments of stress, compounds known as “green leaf volatiles” waft as warnings to nearby plants and insects. To the human nose, these notes go unnoticed, or register as a pleasant whiff of freshly cut grass. What if we were receptive to these notes of warning, these unseen signals all around us in the air? In this presentation, I share examples from a body of artwork practice and propose forms of receptivity (i.e.: listening, smelling, breathing and ingesting) as opportunities for interspecies encounter and coalition. This body of work engages radio broadcast, scent signaling, and interspecies encounter to bring attention to our shared airspace and to propose multispecies coalitions for vibrant futures. In “signal to nose,”
I transform a community space into a broadcast room for a simultaneous scent and radio broadcast of Green Leaf Volatiles (the green-smelling signals of plant warnings) alongside an evolving playlist of youth climate activists and community contributions. In “non-attachment to the ground,” I share a radio and scent broadcast at dawn in a greenhouse in Chicago. In “Let me sip a future beyond my blood,” I create and apply a scent of nectar and sweat attractive to female mosquitos. And in “it takes time to process unintended harm,” I use the scent extraction method enfleurage to extract urushiol, the potent material in poison ivy, the same compound used for temporary “urushiol tattoos” in another project. Through this work, pose questions such as: Can practices of receptivity allow us to more ethically engage in challenging conversations with a diversity of human and more-than-human participants? Can olfactory and multisensory art lead to embodied learning and a deeper connection with the landscape itself and its many, multi- species inhabitants? If I am able to attend in person, I will share some scent-based samples for olfactory experiences of the projects discussed.
The Unstoppable Stirring Continues
Monday 27 • 16.15 – 16.45 • Studio 1
In October 2021 I embarked on an artistic inquiry, “The Unstoppable Stirring,” in which I sought to explore the question: “If indeed we are, as many environmental scientists note, in the beginning of the 6th extinction, how does this reality dawn on humans viscerally, non-verbally, imaginally, beyond the heralding calls to awaken which are thrown up many times daily now by activists, artists and the news worldwide?” For 12 consecutive days I communed with the Living World at Mossyrock, the 1⁄2 acre at the far edge of a small northwestern seaport town where I live; I conversed, improvised, learned from and danced with cedars, salal, stellar’s jays, squirrels, deer, willows, madronas (arbutus), mushrooms, tohees, willow, birch, native and invasive blackberries, honeysuckle, douglas fir, hawthorne, petrified wood to name just 18 of the many kin whose songs and stories arose, coming to and through me in what is now a growing cycle of compositions for voice, video and other instruments. I presented a selection of these initial songs from my autoethnographic research at the art.earth’s Borrowed Time Symposium: Extinction in November 2021.
My proposed 2022 presentation, “The Unstoppable Stirring Continues,” builds upon the initial project with four key aims, each engaging more people/species:
1/In order to deepen relationships between myself and my non-human neighbors in the context of life force amidst threat of extinction, I will embark on a new series of Spring/Early Summer seasonal encounters with my Living World neighbors (including those named above). My process and presentational forms will be grounded/lifted in the somatic Life/Arts process practice of silent and sonic movement, drawing from the inside out, creative writing as well as video/photography and music composition/ production.
2/ In order to communicate what arises in these encounters–and psycho-kinetic, literal, spiritual and metaphor/imaginal relationships–I will document/create/receive/shape/be shaped by this experience. I will then share my somatic revelations and resulting multi-media works/discoveries at the Conference, in live performance and dialogue with fellow humans/scholars/conferees.
3/ On behalf of the well-being of the planet and all her species, my intention is that by expressing and exploring layers of ‘kinning,’ I can demonstrate how embodied arts and Living World encounters can combine, inform one another, and collectively aid us in addressing ethical questions including distribution of resources, climate justice and policies that curb greed.
4/ What is really needed most of all in our current world is a transformation (sea-change) in thought, willingness and attitude. In order to add momentum to this intention, my performance will seek to show that embodied inquiries, tangible art/i/facts and experiences of cross-species artistic/creative relationships can powerfully awaken stewardship in each of us and expand language of and strategies for environmental activism.
Dr Caroline Frizell
Posthuman research that re- animates our responsiveness to knowing and becoming
Tuesday 28 • 15.45 – 16.16 • Studio 3
This presentation invites you to think about postqualitative research methodologies that draw on posthuman and new-materialist ontologies and epistemologies. Research as a processual matter of engagement makes room for unexpected encounters and interruptions in the wider ecology with, for example, cats and foals, that make a difference to the way we think and that can redirect the pathways of embodied research. These diffractive meeting places bring a focus to potential; ie. what things can become, rather than definition, ie. what things are. The presentation will consider how post-qualitative approaches to embodied research offer the potential to open creative channels for divergent ways of perceiving, processing and animating research material. Caroline will bring examples from prior research projects that bring together dance movement psychotherapy, ecopsychotherapy and critical disability studies.
Grace Gelder, Sobia Zaidi & Nina Luostarinen
Encountering Places – Hiraezh
Tuesday 28 • 11.30 – 12.00 • Studio 3
This artist presentation by Hiraezh, shares photographic images alongside reflections from our past performative actions for camera; each taking place in a different rural landscape. We discuss our individual experiences of making this work and the dialogues that occurred between us, both during and after; each speaking about the ways that making images while encountering a new landscape led us to engage in new dialogues with a place. Paying attention to the embodied experiences of interacting with these places, we examine the strategies devised to encourage new methods of encounter, based on empathy, emotional and sensorial awareness with the non-human. These include: devising new place-led choreographies, coexisting, deep listening and playful disruptions. We question how we might enter a liminal space through this process, how we can encourage playfulness and new approaches, how the camera can offer an alibi and how we might construct and design similar encounters in future. What does it mean to become a place, rather than to master it? During the presentation we will share postcards from our previous projects, inviting participants to write and send messages about their connection to Dartington and how they feel about being there. This continues the theme of layering narratives upon a place, which is always present in our work as an international collective. We bring multiple narratives and perspectives to each place we visit. *In addition to our presentation we would like to offer attendees the opportunity to experience what we are speaking about (our process/interaction with a place), by inviting people to make a short group encounter with a designated place on the Dartington estate for a photograph.
Prof Jools Gilson
Tempestries: The Cloonshannagh Bog Body, Textiles & Somatic Research
Tuesday 28 • 16.15 – 16.45 • Studio 1
This presentation will focus on my current project Tempestries. This artistic research project is focussed on the ways somatic movement and textiles shape a sense of place within an Irish context. Interweaving attuned embodied practices, textile art, choreography, environmental science and creative writing the project explores the Irish peatland bog as theme and metaphor, with a particular focus on a 7th Century bog body and her textiles discovered in Cloonshannagh Bog, Co. Roscommon in 2005. This project was the subject of my Artistic Research as a 2021 Irish Fulbright Scholar, hosted by Theatre and Dance at Colorado University Boulder, and during a residency in the Atlas Institute at the B2 Center for Media, Art & Performance. Working closely with Inside the Greenhouse, the Center for Creative Climate Communication and Behaviour Change (C3BC) and the Unstable Design Lab this Artistic Research used somatic practices as methodology in the dance studio as well as in writing and textile / film making. The project title – Tempestries (borrowed with permission from The Tempestry Project) is a play on the words tempest, tapestry and temperature. Tempestries seeks to locate textiles within landscapes as a way to explore, analyse and make collaborative creative work in relation to the Climate Emergency using somatic practices as methodology and compositional praxis. Specifically, this iteration focusses on the bog body and her textiles found on Cloonshannagh bog as both science and creative narrative in counterpoint and collaboration with the science of bog formation and the historical / contemporary use of bogs in Ireland. The project also focuses on native Irish dyes as a way to connect botany with fabric and identity. These native Irish dyestuffs became embodied as choreographies which both recall their origin as colour for cloth but also speak to a darker history of femininity and landscape. These threads are woven together to make connections between the female labour of textile making, the female body and our relationship to landscape. We shared a work in progress of Tempestries in the B2 at the Atlas Institute on 6th Nov 2021. Timed to coincide with the COP 26 Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, this sharing of choreography and performance explored how art practice, somatic methodologies, textiles and creative writing can ask questions differently in our time of climate emergency using the Irish peatland bog as theme and metaphor. Tempestries research involved in-depth collaboration with three dance artists Ondine Geary, Chrissy Nelson and Anna Pillot, as well as three textile artists from the Unstable Design Lab, Sasha de Coninck, S (Shanel) Wu and Lily Gabriel. Tempestries is an ongoing research project and the aim is to continue collaboration in Ireland with archaeologists, wetland scientists and national bodies. Outputs may include performance / choreography, education projects, gallery / museum installations and creative writing.
Marko Pogačnik – Gaia Touch Exercises
Wednesday 11:30 -13:00 studio 3
Gaia Touch body exercises are dedicated to deepening the relationship between human beings and the Earthly creation. Their purpose is to help us to attune better to the multidimensional nature of our home planet and its diverse inhabitants. The exercises represent a combination of body movements and imaginations to foster the cooperation with Gaia and her universe. Besides individual exercises there exist also several exercises for groups and a number of hand movements.
The exercises were all created in the last 24 years as a surprising result of my Earth healing work in different natural and urban ambiences. During the 80-ies of the last century I have developed methods of ecological healing similar to acupuncture of the human body. Since my profession is a sculptor so I use for this purpose stones with carved signs that I call cosmograms. Their function is to communicate with the elemental consciousness of the given place or landscape. I do not use always in my work stone setting, the most of the work is done with groups – in this case I work with sounding, color imaginations and movement.
In the late 90-ies I noticed that some places I work with “answer” to by inspiring certain movements. Soon I recognized that those movements embody the specific quality of the given place and on the other hand correspond to diverse processes that are important for human development, grounding and attunement at this specific time of intense planetary changes.
The authentic power of the Gaia Touch exercises is generated through the interaction between the exercising person and the spatial quality of those places on Earth that inspired them. Exercises work also in the opposite direction. By performing a Gaia Touch exercise one supports the given place and its elemental and other beings in their striving to protect the true identity of their place and to strengthen its contribution to the ever changing Earth. With the expression “elemental beings” are meant fractals of Gaia, the cosmic consciousness of the Earth, that support vital processes in nature and in the landscape.
Gaia Touch exercises are based upon synchronicity between the body movements and our capacity of imagination. It is not always needed to have in mind the background of the given exercise while performing it. Yet it is good to know its purpose and which of its movements need to be supported by the corresponding inner image.
If more background information to the themes of the Gaia Touch is needed look into author’s books: Universe of the Human Body and Dancing with the Earth Changes (all by Lindisfarne Books). You can get help also from videos where the author shows how to perform the exercises, to be found at www.markopogacnik.com.
Gaia Touch exercises are also published in the form of Cards with author’s drawings published by Genius Loci Publishing in two versions, English and German. They can be ordered at www.geniusloci-publishing.com
Everybody is free to use Gaia Touch exercises, to perform them publicly, to adjust them to one’s intuition, to teach them to others, and to enjoy them by oneself.
About Marko Pogačnik
Marko Pogačnik (1944) UNESCO Artist for Peace lives with his wife and collaborator Marika in Šempas, Slovenia. During the years 1965-71 he worked in Conceptual Art and Land Art as member of OHO group. After 1971 he works in the field of art combined with integral ecology (geomancy). He has developed a method of Earth healing called “lithopuncture” with stones standing on specific points and complemented with carved cosmograms. He developed “Gaia Touch” body exercises to tune to the essence of the Earth. In 2006 he started the world-wide project of Geopuncture Circles. His books among other: Gaia’s Quantum Leap, Universe of the Human Body, Christ Power and the Earth Wisdom, Dancing with the Earth Changes, Creating Gaia Culture.
Tuesday 28 • 10.30 – 11.00 • Studio 3
Mixture was a workshop that proposes an assembly game using elements that you have at hand. The workshop intends to forge a ritual between women and plants, and to think of a choreographic mixture – as a play on the words used by the Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia (2018) which suggests a metaphysics of the mixture. Making alternative dance/choreography of interspecific, feral, non-human worlds, as a form of resistance to the anthropocene/plantationcene/Capitolocene, bringing together perspectives that point to cosmopolitics from other ways of being in the world: stem, roots, sap, leaves, flowers and fruits. A choreography of women interested in finding possible alliances between clothes, objects and plants. “Affective alliances” as Ailton Krenak would say, based on improbable daily life. Impossible relationships and neighborhoods. For this, the workshop has a score, which begins with a drift of “search”, of fallen plants, forgotten objects, cheerful costumes. Then assemble to transform. Transforming to make other arrangements and imagine futures and counter- domestication rituals. It was made with women from Santos, São Paulo, Brazil. And as a result it became a video-dance, and a performance made by the women participants. Other contributors: Giulia Sales, Nascimento da Silva Alice Iassia, Marcela da Silva Lopes and Kidauane Regina
Marina Guzzo with Dani Lima, Lucianne Ramos Solve & Marta Soares
DISCUSSION Enchantment practices in a disenchanted Brazil
Driven by the question “How does the ecological crisis call on, disrupt, radicalize and transform fields such as dance, choreography and somatic practices?” Four women-artists from the choreographic field based in Brazil, talk about the challenges, desires and practices that support the work of enchantment in the face of obscurantism and the policies of death and destruction that take place in the country. From different perspectives of the relationship between the body and the environment, sentient and nature, the artists who move between artistic and academic creation, propose conversation, encounter, love and exchange as outlets to continue existing. Each of the presenter will choose one practice to present, and from it, open a a connection with the other, opening the session as a network for common experiences of art and life.
Dr Alyson Hallett
Rock Resonances: A participatory exploration
Tuesday 28 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 1
Alyson is the current EarthArt Fellow at Bristol University in the Earth Sciences Department. Previous residencies include being the first poet in a Geography Department with a Leverhulme Fellowship; Charles Causley Residency; Lyell Centre, Heriot Watt University residency. Alyson has published more than ten books of poetry and prose and has collaborated with sculptors, artists, composers, scientists, dancers. For the past twenty years she has curated the international poetry and stone project, The Migration Habits of Stones.
In this session explore the outer regions of listening. Come and hear about the experiments Alyson has been devising while working with meteors and volcanologists at Bristol University. Come and be a part of a practical exercise and sharing of responses. If these stones could speak, what would they say? Alyson looks forward to welcoming you to this participatory exploration.
Laura Harrington & Meredith Root-Bernstein
Cleambering with rocks and water from Lesotho to Italy
Monday 27 • 16.15 – 16.45 • Studio 3
The flows, cycles and patterns of water in landscapes condition urgent problems of survival for living things, but also tell us about long historical processes of transformation. Rocks, river valleys, watersheds, mountains, plains, estuaries,—whole geographies—are formed by water, as are grasslands, shrublands, forests, deserts and all their ecologies. Where water goes, grasses, grazing animals, humans and their infrastructures cluster. Our “Cleambering Manifesto” (2018) proposes a practice of somatic attention to rocks to understand and enter into a physical dialogue with them about the processes of water, wind, soil formation, and so on, that have shaped them. “Cleambering” combines the words “clambering” and “meandering” to point to a kinaesthetic and reflective practice. Here, we draw on two short films, also made into a flip book in 2021, of cleambers in Lesotho (southern Africa) and in northern Italy.
The flip book format in particular translates the filming of cleambering into a secondary form of interactive, tactile experience. These practices and media help us understand how a movement- based empathetic engagement with landscape provides embodied understandings of how the movements of water, in these two distant places, are linked in multiple ways, not only through the global water cycle but also through the mohair industry. We trace how the movements of water in Lesotho are intimately related to mohair production practices and animal movements, which in turn affect water behaviour on the land. Mohair from Lesotho is exported to northern Italian mills—since the industrial revolution, wool and mohair production in Italy has not used local sheep and goats, but higher-quality fibre produced in distant landscapes. Industrial use of water to produce energy for mills and other factories has transformed the northern Italian landscape, as well as the downstream landscapes of the Po estuary.
We ask how our attention to and interaction with the behaviour of the water itself, the rocks it forms and the living things it moves among in the riverbed, can bring a richness of observation and add depth to our understanding of these global networks. When we cleamber with the water and its rocks, we come to understand its particular force, the contingency of its behaviour, and its local desires. Bodily movement is an especially relevant medium for understanding the behaviours and desires or tendencies, and transformations, of other entities—the transduction from one (rock) body to another (human) body both preserves the qualitative integrity of somatic logics, and reflects the interconnected material continuities of the living systems we are interacting with.
Lily Hayward Smith, Dr Petra Johnson, Dr Karen Wood, Louisa Petts & Dr Vipavinee Artpradid
The Shape of Sound
Monday 27 • 10.30 – 11.00 • Studio 3
In the installation, ‘The Shape of Sound’, is an artist impression of the hair cells inside the cochlea of the inner ear. The hair cells are represented through suspended strands of delicate silk and wool threads. The performance is an exploration of the installation highlighting the element of touch in the physical process of hearing a sound. The dance artists explore the installation through deep listening, touch, movement with the strands and interact with light, darkness, shadows, sound and silence within space.
The work explores how humans can reconnect to themselves and the roots of their ecological communality through the role of touch in hearing and the agency of vibrational matter. Engaging with primordial embodied technologies counters the tendency of contemporary technological developments to distance humans from the affective environment that we are by nature deeply connected to but may have subconsciously moved away from.
This presentation shares visuals of anatomical references as well as a range of perspectives taken by the sonic body across time. These perspectives are informed by the work of contemporary sound artists who are working in the field of auditory sensory prothesis as well as a historical conjuring and speculating of sound awareness in the 1850s and the late 14th Century, as our work moves from the studio environment into the Anglican Mortuary Chapel in Coventry and an outbuilding of a Carthusians Monastery.
Tuesday 28 • 13:30 – 14:30 – ONLINE ONLY
I will share the work in progress participatory performance “Sensing Potatoes” which I am currently developing. The ecological crisis challenges me to rethink which stories I want to convey in performance. How to include or even put non-human complexities and our entanglements with them into the foreground? How can I mediate such complexities and how can I let them inform the aesthetics of artistic practice?
It all started with holding a potato in my hand and for a moment, sensing it rather than immediately pealing it. I suddenly went through a thought process that ecological theorist Bruno Latour taught me: which dependencies did I rely on so that this potato was able to arrive in my hand? The dependencies of money trading, of transport, of farming, of earth and sun. But also its cultivation throughout the world, travelling continents, a rich cultural history.
Yet, I was there, sensing it, perceiving its textures, weight, smell. Sentient tools and somatic practices can propose a grounding for such complexities and thereby bridge the supposedly harsh bifurcation between felt sense and historical and objective knowledge.
Making the potato the protagonist of this performance, I would like to share my investigations on how to mediate our entanglements with non-human beings through dancing, speaking and sensing, inviting the audience to participate with movement, sensorial exploration and gestures of care.
Tuesday 28 • 12.00 – 12.30 • Studio 6
I am a visual artist working with paint and printmaking processes. I am not a dancer or a performance artist, but I do consider my work to be a type of contact improvisation between me and the materials. The intimate, physical reciprocal relationship as I respond to the activity of materials and they respond to mine is what generates the artwork.
Making my own pigments from found materials extends my interaction to the environment around me. I walk through particular places such as the Thames shore, London streets, Devon beaches and give attention to what I find there, connecting with the geological, biological and human stories embodied in the landscape. I have recently made a series of paintings and prints with coal picked up from the Thames shore. It was shipped from Newcastle to fuel the homes and industries of London from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, blackening the buildings and the lungs of its inhabitants. Slipping and dropped into the river while being unloaded from ship to dock, the coal has been washed up and down with the tides, smoothed into pebbles and sorted by the River into lines on the strand. Smashing and grinding the coal into pigment is slow and full of the friction of a direct encounter with hard rock, it reminds me of the hard labour of the people who dug, carried, burnt and breathed this coal. The slowness of the process gives me time to think about deep time through which this coal was made from the remnants of Carboniferous forests and then came to meet me on the Thames Shore.
All painting involves awareness of your own body in space and a feeling for the movement required to make a mark with one material on another, but I am also interested in the agency of the materials themselves, what they can do and how they transform over time. My painting materials are not alive but they are active, dynamic and generative. The coal affects me in a physical way, I respond to it, but I also enable it to behave in certain ways. In these works the coal ink is dropped into pools of Thames water on paper. The paper buckles with moisture and the paint settles into the dips and diffuses outwards as it dries, or dendritic branching patterns emerge when coal paint responds to a release of pressure, creating biomorphic forms. The paintings, collages and prints that emerge then have their own life of interaction with their environment and the people who see and make something out of them.
For this presentation I propose showing some photographs of my work and videos of my process. I could possibly do a live demonstration of, for example, grinding of coal to make pigment and paint.
I would also be interested in holding a workshop where pigments are prepared from found materials. These could be locally sourced from Devon (eg. Devon earths) if that seems more appropriate than working with materials found in London.
Prof Victoria Hunter
A Holding Space: Re-encountering physicality in woodland spaces
Monday 27 • 11.30 – 12.0 • Studio 1
This presentation provides an insight into a practice-led micro project conducted in June and September 2021. The project; A Holding Space comprised a live, duet dance performance, a participatory workshop and a site-dance film work capturing some of the project’s key themes and concerns. The performance and workshops took place in woodland spaces, Kingley Vale nature reserve in West Sussex (June 2021) and Petersfield Sustainability Centre (Sept 2021). Through somatically informed dance and movement practice the project responded to issues and concerns related to re-entering the world following a series of UK lockdowns experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic (2020-21). During lockdown the lack of touching and holding loved ones was expressed as a significant loss by many. However, adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in which proximity and touch with those outside support bubbles and family groups requires careful negotiation as bodies learn to re-encounter one another and engage with outdoor spaces once again. The project asked; How might dance in outdoor nature spaces play a role in facilitating this transition and open conversations regarding touch proximity and holding / supporting one another as we navigate this new landscape together? How can we re-negotiate contact with fellow beings (both human and nonhuman) and respect boundaries? How might woodlands, trees and forests offer a holding space where we relearn how to be together- where other moving, breathing bodies are no longer fearful and to be avoided? How might these encounters in nature spaces encourage us to get out into the world whilst moving closer to one another and move us through a transitional space of healing as ‘we’ (humans and more-than-humans) co-create a new normal together?
Drawing on new materialist theory, the presentation reflects on the human-nonhuman intra- actions (Barad 2007) encountered during the micro project and the potential for this type of dancing-moving practice to invoke human-environment relations in particular ways. The presentation situates the workshop within Hunter’s wider development of ‘site-based body practice’ in which different actors, materials and entities come together and contribute to an entangled process of ‘becoming-with’ one another in a co-constitutive manner in which; ‘all together the players evoke, trigger, and call forth what-and-who-exists’ (Haraway 2016). Film footage of the workshops and performances will be presented alongside a critical commentary that reflects on what this project has revealed so far regarding; human-non-human relations, strategies for offering and receiving touch, and the transformative effects of being and dwelling in nature spaces as a strategy for getting back to ourselves and back to nature.
rince / damsha / macnas: the space between
Monday 16 • 09.30 – 11.00 • Studio 3
Interweaving extracts of current film work; dance documentation, poetry, stream of consciousness writing, audio extracts, material objects and live movement; this immersive sharing of interdisciplinary land practice seeks to raise questions and reflections for attendees of the symposium; as to the concept of learning with/ from and through land.
Drawing from my residencies on Rathlin Island in 2016, 2018-19 and 2021; this sharing reflects extracts and questions from a dance between developing my understanding of the Gaelic language, embodied disputed spatial practice and methodological questions of using choreography as a tool of socio-ecological praxis. My task of exploring the island’s history through residents accounts, archaeology and whispers of the Island; the Viking Mound, cross border heritage, sea bird colonies and lighthouse communications networks; was guided by the question as to how far can somatic practice embody a dialog of encounter with place. Working with Gaelic words to explore the geography of each field; the current work of Megan (2020) Thirty Two words for field guided my enquiry as to how movement and language can be used in a dualism to generate alternative meta-geographies of terrain. Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland, with a steadily growing population of approximately 150 people, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the coast of the island of Ireland. Creating walking/ dancing / talking collective workshops; residents and visitors alike explored a series of routes and scores across and around the island; delving into the question as to how language, movement and meditative movement enhance and enrich our connection to place and thus sense of collective social responsibility and interconnectedness of community and land.
Myths, legends, folk stories, remembrances, childhood stumbles converge as we walk, dance, navigate and stop in awe of the misty dawn, the night and the spaces between. A walk of light ( breacadh an lae / fainne geal an lae) breathing with the cormorant, synchronisation of the light house flashing; collecting moss, a subtle dance of down the rocks. How can the collective practice of sharing our experience of place through co created somatic scores allow a common space for encounter to form and what are the boundaries of this space?
Cuilithe / tarraing anuas/ tulca:
As an ongoing project; this sharing will raise questions as to evaluation, impact and reflection of somatic collective land based practices; the delicate dance of authorship; what does a collective inquiry mean in practice and how can outputs from projects such as this model concepts of democratic co –ownership of land? Walking with words; a language holding a world fading seeking illumination.
Nightfalling: dancing in the dark as an artistic practice
Tuesday 28 • 11..30 – 12.00 • Studio 6
In this artist’s talk, dance artist and researcher Ellen Jeffrey will explore what we can learn of the night by dancing in the dark: what we can encounter of the nocturnal world by venturing out and moving with it. Sharing a short film of her work, On the Patterns we Gaze (2019), Ellen will share her research into creating night-time choreographies and movement workshops beneath Cumbria’s dark skies. This presentation will explore how in conserving night’s darkness we are also conserving ways of moving through the world – of meandering, wandering, and slowing down – and how they are essential to our encountering and understanding of the more-than- human environments we live with. Ellen’s current artistic research is concerned with the development of a “noctographic” movement practice: a practice which aims to investigate the perception of rural nightscapes through movement. The practice is designed to take place at nightfall in all seasons of the year and is therefore (i) a time-specific practice, concerned with engaging with the durational and temporal qualities of a nightscape, and (ii) a site-specific practice, concerned with co-forming place through the experience of night’s darkness. Her work uses choreological analysis, phenomenology and new materialism to reflect upon the experiences that individuals and communities have of a site at night. In doing so, this artistic research considers how engaging with a night-time, durational movement practice – a practice in which the real and imagined, self and other, become entangled ? has the capacity to transform human and more-than-human relatedness. By engaging with night as a world in which what is visually perceived no longer equates to clarity and accuracy ? a world where the imagination
Reflections on Creating, Collaborating, & Curating: JDSP Special Issue Vol 13, #1 & 2, Somatics & Eco-Consciousness
As a long-time developer/practitioner of “Embodying Nature” (a body-centered approach to somatic attunement, relational presence, and creative engagement with the natural environment), I was delighted to be invited by Thomas Kampe (UK) in 2020 to join him and Katja Munker (DE) in editing this special issue for the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices. From the get-go, we were committed to diverse representations of thought and expression, inviting theoretical, practical, and artistic submissions to broaden the discourse. In this presentation, I will weave these three themes from the journal into my own thirty-five year journey of creating Embodying Nature, beginning with Anna Halprin at Sea Ranch in 1986 until the present day, to illustrate an evolving convergence of cognition, embodiment and expression as fundamental for reconnecting ourselves to the planetary body in these rapidly changing times.
Growing Community: a presentation and group sharing on programmes that promote community development
Tuesday 28 • 15.45 – 16.15 • Studio 6
Studying International Development taught me that all development is local, with sustainable long-term benefits depending on ownership by the intended beneficiaries – so, is international development even possible? Volunteering with a local non-profit creating a food forest to supply our local Food Bank, and as a learning resource for local gardeners (mesaharmonygarden.org) I became interested in the permaculture principles underlying its design. Taking a permaculture design course finally answered my question about how to make development local – permaculture training to empower smallholder farmers, with long-term support as they develop their communities of practice, rediscover their farming heritage, and use farmer-to-farmer extension and citizen science to normalize regenerative farming. I initiated the permEzone pilot programme, working with permaculture teachers in East Africa. Our pilot projects in Kenya and Uganda have developed the curriculum and framework for further implementation across the region and beyond. A new NGO has been registered in Kenya to take this forward. The Amerta movement practice, with Suprapto Suryodarmo and my wife Katya Bloom, has given me insights into Bill Mollison’s description of the principle to ‘Observe and Interact’ as an “experiential approach, using all our senses as our instruments, trying to be fully conscious both of specific details, sensations, and the total ambience of the site”. An introductory PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the community-building aspects of both Mesa Harmony Garden and the permEzone pilot, could be followed by a chance to interact and share our experiences of community-building in nature, including insights from observing and interacting. This sharing process may itself evolve a new community of practice for further sharing in future.
Walking out of our bodies and Into the Mountain: dancing, mountaineering and embodied interconnections
Tuesday 28 • 11.30 – 12.00 • Studio 1
This artist talk will reflect upon various elements and concerns contained within the performance project, Into the Mountain (2019). Developed over 6 years, through multi-mode research and mountaineering in the Cairngorms Mountains, Scotland, culminating in a year long programme of events and a place-relational performance.
The title for this talk refers to Nan Shepherds’ explorations of the Cairngorms mountain range in her prose, The Living Mountain, when she says, ‘I have walked out of my body and into the mountain’ (p106, 2008). Her writing presents her embodied experiences as hillwalker in post- war Britain and proposes permeabilities between human body and mountain ecology.
Into the Mountain considered the felt intersubjective and interconnected experiences of place and gendered experiences of mountaineering culture. The project addressed questions of what role these environments have on a human perception of it, and how this perception is culturally and somatically experienced and expressed through our bodies. Critically, this project explored the gendered, dancing and mountaineering body in relation to the lively dynamics of mountain ecologies through a practice drawing upon mountaineering, performance and dance practices. Considering Shepherd’s text as a form of intergenerational dialogue, engagement in Body Weather dance practices, Feldenkrais Method® and mountaineering skills, the project explored the same geographical environment as Shepherd, both solo and with others.
This project applies what Doreen Massey terms ‘place as process’ (2005) when considering the complexities of facilitating and designing performance experiences within and from this particular environment. The project asks how dance practices and embodied knowledges enrich our interrelationships with the more-than-human, cultural geographies and gendered mountaineering narratives.
Through this project I continue to ask:
How can somatic practices within a performance experience offer new approaches to relating to mountainous environments?
How can the development of mountaineering skills inform new understandings for existing movement trainings and site-relational performance making?
How can/do artists develop new notions of interconnectedness with mountain ecologies which develop empathy, care and attentiveness to these sensitive ecologies?
Can dance and somatic based facilitation and pedagogies contribute new ways and approaches to mountain leadership or stewardship?
This artistic research proposes through practice, new orientations and approaches for both mountain- leader facilitation and environmental performance making practices, suggesting new collaborative potentials between both fields and positing new models of feminist approaches to outdoor facilitation.
Tuesday 28 • 13.30 – 14.15 • online
The CELL borrows the meaning and structure of the cell as a symbol of an ongoing choreographic process. Each cell pulsates, expands and contracts, adapts randomly and gets shaped from its outer space. Accordingly, the action seeks to empirically test the ability of the group to self-identify, to reshape itself in relation to external conditions, and to build a degree of communication and cooperation among itself by undermining the hierarchical power structure that usually governs a biological / social organism. The CELL is based on ??Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Body without organs’ where the body ceases to have the symbolic dimension that wants the head to lead and the organs to follow and calls for an experience of the possibility for creative, collaborative structures of self-organization. The CELL is a playful experiment in terms of adaptability, coordination and empathy of each group that forms it.
The performer ties her eyes with a cloth, enters the hula hoop and stays still (core). Participants circle the performer and form the cell membrane by maintaining contact with the hula hoop in order to direct its movement. The whole cell then travels in the space aiming to maintain its structure and reshape its form. Participants (membrane) take care of ‘protecting’ the core/performer by directing her using their body pressure to the hula hoop. They are asked to communicate with each other without using verbal communication leaving space between their bodies and the performer’s body for the cytoplasm to ‘flow’. After a while, the performer takes out the fabric and this means that the roles change. Somebody else takes the core position. This is repeated until all participants step in the core role.
Book presentation: Eco Soma
Wednesday 29 • 10.00 – 11.00 • Studio 3
In Eco Soma, Petra Kuppers asks readers to be alert to their own embodied responses to art practice and to pay attention to themselves as active participants in a shared sociocultural world. Reading contemporary performance encounters and artful engagements, this book models a disability culture sensitivity to living in a shared world, oriented toward more socially just futures.
Eco soma methods mix and merge realities on the edges of lived experience and site-specific performance. Kuppers invites us to become moths, sprout gills, listen to our heart’s drum, and take starships into crip time. And fantasy is central to these engagements: feeling/sensing monsters, catastrophes, golden lines, heartbeats, injured sharks, dotted salamanders, kissing mammoths, and more. Kuppers illuminates ecopoetic disability culture perspectives, contending that disabled people and their co-conspirators make art to live in a changing world, in contact with feminist, queer, trans, racialized, and Indigenous art projects. By offering new ways to think, frame, and feel “environments,” Kuppers focuses on art-based methods of envisioning change and argues that disability can offer imaginative ways toward living well and with agency in change, unrest, and challenge.
Traditional somatics teach us how to fine-tune our introspective senses and to open up the world of our own bodies, while eco soma methods extend that attention toward the creative possibilities of the reach between self, others, and the land. Eco Soma proposes an art/life method of sensory tuning to the inside and the outside simultaneously, a method that allows for a wider opening toward ethical cohabitation with human and more-than-human others. ”Petra Kuppers breathes us through connections between embodiment and the earth, weaving queer studies and disability studies into self-guided explorations. Her imagistic text evokes dancing—the pull of gravity and the shifting perspectives of bodies in flow. She moves, she writes, we respond to her autobiographical narratives of environmental spaces and social places.”—Anita Gonzalez, cofounder, Racial Justice Institute, Georgetown University
Sabine Kussmaul, Dr Scott Thurston & Gemma Collard-Stokes
Our common ground – Writing, drawing, dance – a multi-disciplinary collaboration with the open pastures of Bakestonedale Moor
Monday 27 • 10.30 – 11.00 • Studio 1
The windy pastures of Bakestonedale Moor above Pott Shrigley are covered with tall grasses, thistles and bracken. Sheep and hill walkers roam in changing numbers, their movements intersected by drystone walls and the landmarks left behind by mining for coal and fire clay. There are concrete-capped mine shafts overgrown by tall ferns, rock debris from historic quarrying and grassy ledges, the remainders of coal transportation trackways. The land appears like a bowl, turned upwards towards the incessant interchanges between clouds and sky, sun and rain. The landscape’s sounds are a polyphony of aircraft noises, voices of crows and song of skylarks mixed with the commotions from nearby farming.
Human engagement and the actions of the other than human combine with the forces from geological, meteorological and metabolic processes, their patterns of change manifested in an unfathomable complexity. As human participants in such materials and processes, we contribute our streams of feeling and knowing the place when we walk or dance with it, discover its and our stillness, when we find words, or make marks with it.
From the perspectives of three creative practitioners from dance, poetry and visual arts, Gemma Collard-Stokes, Scott Thurston and Sabine Kussmaul collaborate to produce a synergy of approaches that explore the somatosensorial connection between the human body and this particular environment. Though their work shares a common focus on the vitality of corporeal movement and its potential to produce experiential space and poetic meaning, how each of them engages with place and weather, growth and decay, with one’s own experience and what else is perceived, is filtered by their individual reference frameworks. Gemma approaches the project from her current engagement with anticipatory history on the background of an eco-somatic movement practice as a dancer and performance maker. Scott is a poet and mover whose kinepoetic practice draws on the vitality dynamics of Daniel Stern and the technique of Belgian dancer and poet Billie Hanne. Sabine is a visual artist with a current focus on the inscriptive potential of gesture informed by a background in fashion design and drawing.
With this project, Bakestonedale Moor becomes a site of exchange and encounter, its shared materialities and dynamics allowing a recalibration of disciplinary frameworks, leading to the creation of new pathways of knowing land, body, self and other. The three collaborators, work on site independently and jointly and offer sharings of their work to the interested public. In this artist talk, Scott, Gemma and Sabine will introduce the project and talk about points of connection and divergence in their work and how shared ways of practice making offer new ways of knowing the land above Pott Shrigley.
Laurane Le Goff
Wednesday 29 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 6
My name is Laurane Le Goff, I am a costume maker, ecological and textile artivist, currently following a research at Central Saint Martins in the MA Art & Science. For Sentient Performativities: Thinking alongside the human, I propose a dance performance that aims to rethink our relationship with other species. As the performance will be recorded when it will happened in May, two solutions are possible: I can submit the film (around 20min) of the performance to watch and I will be happy to respond to the audience’s questions, or, if achievable to bring six people (the four dancers, plus a musician and myself), we could have a blended event, with a presentation of the film, plus a demonstration performed live a Dartington Trust, of the movements that we developed during the creation process that mingle art and science.
Let me tell you a bit more about this. My current graduation project is a dance performance called “Sympoiesis”, term coined originally by Beth Dempster and used by Donna Haraway, it inclined ‘multi-species making together’, ‘co-making’ instead of auto-poiesis, making alone. And it is
what I am trying to do, making together with other humans but also the other-than-human, as another way to connect with them, being in the research of getting to know another species rather than using them. This project is about spreading a narrative to (re)connect us to the other- than-human as it appear to have been lost in the current western society I live in*. To question the boundaries of what humans consider as living beings, of who disserves human’s attention as a living, breathing, ‘intelligent’ subject, is questioning the political, cultural, social, and of course ecological problematics that we are going through.
Homo sapiens have become a ‘geophysical force’ (Morton, 2018), that is reshaping (when not completely destroying) not only the habitats of the millions of other species that we share Earth with, but also their own existence. Because of a tale focussing on creating more, better and cheaper; the ideology of progress has completely cut off any narrative promoting the rest of the living beings as equals and progressively transformed them as inanimate resources for humans to use. This crack in our relationship towards the other-than humans is the ‘tipping point’ I am working on. I believe bringing new stories that will promote a different relationship toward the rest of the living beings is one of the ways to create the deep and radical cultural change we need to adapt to the current ecological transformations.
We need to bring to the front the stories that has been erase of the biodiversity we are losing, erasing or enslaving in order to acknowledge their necessity in the biome survival. Dance is one of these practices that connect human bodies with a variety of senses. Learn from other species and try to embody their movements, is to acknowledge their complexity and liveliness. That is why it is how we proceeded to construct this performance: getting to know a specie, and telling our story in movements.
Using an interdisciplinary method that implies observation, artistic response, scientific research and social issues, I came to connect with three other species, one of each of the Eukaryotes Kingdoms (Plant, Animal, Fungi, Protista). I studied each specie for few months, and developed through these enquiries a story and an emotional relationship with them, that I now structure to present to the public in the shape of a dance performance. How can we create a relationship rather than an action of mimicking? How to go beyond mimicking, and try to find a sensitive language that will connects us in a deeper way?
These questions combine with others such as the costumes and sound impact. As a costume maker, one very important axe of my enquiry is to search how can a shape make the human body engage with another species. How can the material chosen, the cut, the colours, the texture, can become links that bound human and other-than-human.
As I hope to have shown in this small intro, I believe my current research is deeply connected with the mission of the Dartington Trust and this symposia, this is why I hope to have the opportunity to be part of this event.
- I want to acknowledge my own positionality. As a privileged white European woman, I don’t pretend to speak for other cultures and recognize that this project is centred on what I know and the socio-political context I’ve been raised in.
Dr Nita LIttle • KEYNOTE
Dead or Alive: An Argument for Embodied Imagination (and why it matters)
Sunday 26 • 17.20 – 18.40
Neither embodiment nor presence are simply given. The relationship between the two is knit with a fine thread that winds its way into and through the imagination, forming an invisible tie that inseparably binds them together and into all our relations. With each stitch, relational experiences appear and change, or, rather, can change, but for the enculturated tendency to imagine, with endless repetition, stability, sameness, and predictability. We, of occidental influence, do this at our own peril – having learned to live in the world and on the earth, but not as this being. We do this repetitive practice of the imagination, thinking we know what embodiment is rather than what it can be, what human presence is, rather than what it can be, and, importantly, what a world is, rather than what it can be. We are all on a precipice, having lived in an imagined “dead” material world – one easier to manipulate. We conceive the notion of responsibility (moral duty) rather than response-Ability (vital co-creation). On a relational level this has been devastating for all concerned. What will it take to imagine otherwise? The Institute for the Study of Somatic Communication, a body of dancer/researchers, studies somatic communication in order to meet this important moment with intelligent proposals for change.
Dr. Sandra Reeve and Keith Miller
Participatory presentation: Movement Punctuations
Monday 27th June 9:00 – 13:00 – in and outdoors
A number of 7-minute ‘movement punctuations’ in indoor and outdoor transitional spaces, opening the space for alternative perceptions, rhythms and ways of being together. Please feel free to witness or to join in.
We shall be receiving and attending to place and to the non-verbal through movement along transitional routes. Our intention is to open the space for alternative perceptions, rhythms, experiences, movements and ways of being/becoming together. Please feel free to witness or to join in.
Our question is this: how can we constantly include and amplify somatic, visceral and embodied
responses as equally respected contributions to our situations and to our daily life conversations?
Dr. Sandra Reeve and Keith Miller
Presentation: Crystallasations of Movement Punctuations
Monday 27th June 17:00 -18:00 – studio 20
A crystallisation of the participatory presentation Movement Punctuations with Sandra & Keith.
The Undoing is my Doing
Tuesday 28 • 12.00 – 12.30 • Studio 1
Sophie uses the fabric of a mordanted canvas both to document the marks made from her experiences within the landscape and from the lake pigments and inks that she processes from the mineral and plant based materials she finds around her. Over time the accumulative residue stains the canvas to build a map of care, tracking her relationships with the land around her. Her work is both performative and craft based. She trained in a traditional atelier learning the traditional methods of extracting colours to make paint and is constantly learning new/old methods to play with the colours held in the land.
In my recent presentation to art dot earth members I was touched by the interest in the embodied aspect of my practice: the experience and documentation of the blankets as an intermediary for my sensual relationship with the land. In truth the blankets are not only an intermediary but can, if allowed to, create a process of deepening into this relationship with the world around me. They are at once a cover, a nest, an animal hide. And I am animal, I am other, I am undone.
This is a small presentation of my work, including my research into thinkers like Donna Harroway, Scott Gilbert and Deborah Bird Rose, alongside a playful, outside workshop where we can experiment with canvas in an embodied way. An exploration into using this ancient artistic media as a way of undoing ourselves as individual, modern humans and try to allow ourselves to become something altogether other.
Eco-somatics and teacher education; Exploring ways in to somatic engagement
This presentation will focus on the ecological dimension of the fieldwork pertaining to my current doctoral research into the role of embodiment in the context of teacher education. The impetus for the wider focus of this research arises in part from the increased attention that has been given to the role and relevance of embodiment in the context of education in recent years. It also arises from my own relatively recent accreditation in somatic education and therapy at the Gorse Hill Centre in Greystones Ireland, with pioneering dance artist and psychotherapist, Joan Davis. This accreditation spurred a desire to explore the principles which I encountered during this process in the context of my work as a teacher educator of students who are studying to be primary school teachers at Dublin City University. In this regard I wished to deepen my understanding of the potential relationship between teacher education and field of embodiment, and to contribute to an emerging literature is calling for deeper empirical research into this relationship.
The fieldwork which I undertook within the research process involved the development of a module on embodiment which I designed as part of a new Arts Education specialism at the university. The research involved a phenomenological case study approach pertaining to three iterations of the evolving module over a two year period, and included significant elements of auto-ethnography and arts-based research in the process. In addition to the attempt to articulate and explore issues of relevance of somatic education principles within this context, one of the key considerations which emerged during the process included the question of how somatic practices may be approached with relative beginners or participants outside the fields of professional dance or therapy. Implicit within this quest was an awareness of the important relationship between the personal and professional in the teacher education process, and the conviction that such material must be personally meaningful to student teachers in the first instance.
In light of the above, this presentation will focus on the eco-somatic dimension which emerged as an increasingly important element of the emerging module. It will examine the rationale for its inclusion in response to the challenge of making somatic activity accessible and meaningful to relative beginners and to prospective primary school teachers. In doing so it will outline the nature of its application and the developmental process which was involved. The contextual richness of the case study approach will allow me to share both reflective and aesthetic material that emerged on an incremental basis for both the students and myself, and will thereby give insight into the richness of the pedagogical moment. Reflecting on the phenomenological nature of such material, I believe that it is at this level of analysis that the most useful insights and resonances for other educators may lie. The presentation will end with an attempt to draw on these reflections to point towards broader propositions for the role of eco-somatics in teacher education.
Earthed dance practice: finding grounding in a time of uncertainty
Tuesday 28 • 15.15 – 15.45
This presentation shares how I am listening to / reflecting back on past dance practice in order to feel forward with greater sensibility as I foster plans for a new practice research project which investigates how embodied encounters with living grass and soil can support living well in this time of pandemic.
The covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the significance to health and wellbeing of touch between humans and the wider environment. Here perspectives on touch as potentially positive or harmful rub up against each other. Contemporaneously, increasing global acknowledgment of climate crisis can be argued to validate the importance of fostering awareness of our relationship to the ecosystems of which we are a part – our nature as nature – and the impacts of our choices on this dynamic collaboration.
These circumstances become lens through which to analyse two pre-pandemic practice- research projects led by me, Liz Pavey, Take Your Seats and Green Grass, which centred on attentive contact with chairs and artificial grass respectively. Workshops and improvised performances cultivated participants’ and viewers’ felt knowledge and stimulated reflection on tactile experience and its relationship to memories and personal habits of embodiment. Practice was through playful investigation within urban landscape and with sitting affordances from or within cultural, academic, religious, and domestic environments. Movement practice juxtaposed the everyday and the extraordinary. Familiar ways of being were defamiliarized calling attention to encounter within the present moment. The research was informed by scholarship highlighting the reciprocity of touch and arguing for the liveliness of all matter. Utilising approaches from somatic movement practice which encourage intimate touch with surfaces and materials as methods for fostering sensorial awareness, movement exploration, and identification of self with the wider ecology, this research also came up against concerns relating to the abject (notably dirt) and danger. Analysis asks questions about human capabilities, potentials, liveliness, and fragility. It draws on theory to inform discussion of the complexities and consequences of people’s emotional and physical relationship to the ground – including chair as intermediary or barrier. Findings endorse playfulness as a methodology for fostering resilience and response-ability and recognise the value of touch to sustainable performance practice as a method of perceiving and creating changes in internal and external environments.
The new research with living grass and soil will be informed by this analysis of past practice together with ideas drawn from new materialism. What Anna Tsing says about precarity and contamination not self-containment is pertinent at this time; “…staying alive – for every species – requires livable collaborations” (Tsing 2015: 28). The presentation will consider how dance improvisation and somatic inquiry utilsing eco-phenomenological writing and drawing can support what Donna Haraway calls ongoingness, “that is, nurturing, or inventing, or discovering, or somehow cobbling together ways of living and dying well with each other in the tissues of an earth whose very habitability is threatened” (Haraway 2016: 132)
Rock Resonances: a participatory exploration
Tuesday 28 • 10.30 – 11.00 Studio 1
Sirens- a 20-minute hybrid performance-lecture|artist’s talk comprising a large, full-screen silent projection of a moving image work which is exactly choreographed to fit my written text. I perform and speak my lecture in front of my film and envisage this event taking place in Dartington’s Studio 1, to make full use of its large screen and the floor space in front. I combine speaking with movement, stationing myself at different points across the room; at times immersed in the colours and light from the projection, at other times moving away from the screen and into darkness, using the light from coloured torches to illuminate myself. The film and talk are made with field recordings and field notes from a performative field trip in the form of a sea swim that I led into a series of sea caves in the Torbay Marine Conservation Zone SW UK. Constructed as moving image and animation, constantly slowly moving and swaying, echoing the motion of the sea, never level, and seen on a big screen causes a profound, physical effect for the viewer. A group of four women (artists, academics and researchers), we swam closely together during our crossing, bounded by practice as ritual-making – new rites for troubling troubled times. Our swim became ritualization, something described by scholar Catherine Bell as a way of acting designed and orchestrated to distinguish and privilege what is being done in comparison to other, usually more quotidian, activities. When we slipped into the sea and swam together, our “strategic and practical orientation for acting” (Bell, 2009, p. 85) moved us beyond individual concerns of immediate experience. We were immersed, suspended and kicking, free of our own weight, tasting salt, our heads above the surface, our hands and feet, our bodies, arms and legs below, accepting responsibility for each other, and committing to our aim of swimming into the caves. Our quietly performed rite was a tactic of attunement within this marine habitat, and of noticing our implication and entanglements. In our era when climate disaster is leading to rapid and often violent ecological changes I believe it is imperative that we learn to engage with the multitudes of sensoria that are more than human to “learn[…] again, or for the first time, how to become less deadly, more response-able, more attuned” (Haraway, 2016, p. 98). This work forms part of my practice research PhD which is focused on submerged and semi- submerged sea caves in Torbay’s MCZ, and the emergence of these rites in my research comes directly from my aim to re-think how we can better inhabit our shared world when our futures look increasingly hostile. Sea caves are dynamic environments now facing accelerated risk of complete destruction from increasingly frequent extreme weather events. In this familiar, urban coastal setting I am framing the urgency of recognising the damaging force of anthropogenic planetary transformations on the very local and considering the planetary scale of the climate emergency in intimate and human scales.
Anthropo+Screen by-products, episode iii
Tuesday 28 • 16.15 – 16.45 • Studio 6
Sharing process from a long-term performance research project, towards a performance installation in which costumed dancers (Laura Doehler, Mary Pearson) move within a ‘habitat’ made by sculptor Yoav Admoni. Moving in cycles, our bodies consume and are consumed by piles of consumer waste materials. Visually mesmerizing, grotesque yet seductive, we become mythical sentient beings, animating inanimate bodies to be shed and discarded.
This collaboration between garment designer Alena Kudera and dancer/performance-maker Mary Pearson begins with garments made from waste materials destined for the landfill – designed to give immersive, sensory experiences to dancers who improvise.
Developed from discoveries made in 2019, Kudera’s new collection is playful and sinister, intense in volume and scale. The costumes weigh us down, heat us up, limit some senses to enhance others, and build complex bodies with extra appendages.
In search of a bodily and felt response to the climate crisis, I bring Contact Improvisation and Somatic Experiencing® to the choreographic process.
With dancers who practice CI, we extend our knowledge of moving from touch, sensation, weight, and gravity into moving with the costume materials. Our skin and flesh touches the materials, and we are ‘touched’ and ‘moved’ by connecting our sensory experience of the costumes with our movement impulses, feelings, meanings, and imagination.
As a new SE practitioner, I work with individuals to facilitate release of bodily held trauma. In this project, I ask myself: How could we feel, or be touched collectively by the climate crisis when it seems abstract, inevitable, and overwhelming?
What have I become? Can I find empathy in my entanglement?
Amy Voris joins this iteration as outside eye, to focus on the co-creative aspects of generating, collecting and returning to movement material, experimentally combining approaches from Authentic Movement and Experiential Anatomy.
Relating with and ‘wearing the consequences’ of global consumer capitalist culture becomes a shadow play. I enter a physical experience which helps me integrate the situation of my organism within these conditions of late capitalism. It activates my imagination and sense of humor to create future possibilities and alternative pasts.
I call the project outcomes ‘by-products’ because the costumes themselves are made of consumer by- products, and to de-center a capitalist emphasis on product.
About the materials:
Leather belt remnants with metallic fake reptile plastic surfaces are stitched together with video tape. A leather crown encircles its wearer in cascades of video tape, creating a swishing ‘surround sound’. Plastic mouths and eye protectors look like devils in gas masks, reminding us of potential contamination. Brightly colored cable tie spikes ward off proximity and resemble plasticised sea creatures. Old trainers cover the body in carbon footprints. Tights, stuffed with eternal non-recyclable packaging; a multi-legged denim devil made of expendable jeans, a globe of shiny coffee packages: ‘3rd world’ exploitation for ‘1st world’ convenience. Latest project development in residencies at Lake Studios (Berlin) and Bidston Observatory (near Birkenhead) in May/June 2022.
Marco Pogačnik and Ying Lee: Gaia Touch Body Exercises
GAIA TOUCH body exercises Gaia Touch body exercises are dedicated to deepening the relationship between human beings and the Earthly creation. Their purpose is to help us to attune better to the multidimensional nature of our home planet and its diverse inhabitants. The exercises represent a combination of body movements and imaginations to foster the cooperation with Gaia and her universe. Besides individual exercises there exist also several exercises for groups and a number of hand movements. The exercises were all created in the last 24 years as a surprising result of my Earth healing work in different natural and urban ambiences. During the 80-ies of the last century I have developed methods of ecological healing similar to acupuncture of the human body. Since my profession is a sculptor so I use for this purpose stones with carved signs that I call cosmograms. Their function is to communicate with the elemental consciousness of the given place or landscape. I do not use always in my work stone setting, the most of the work is done with groups – in this case I work with sounding, color imaginations and movement. In the late 90-ies I noticed that some places I work with “answer” to by inspiring certain movements.
Soon I recognized that those movements embody the specific quality of the given place and on the other hand correspond to diverse processes that are important for human development, grounding and attunement at this specific time of intense planetary changes. The authentic power of the Gaia Touch exercises is generated through the interaction between the exercising person and the spatial quality of those places on Earth that inspired them. Exercises work also in the opposite direction. By performing a Gaia Touch exercise one supports the given place and its elemental and other beings in their striving to protect the true identity of their place and to strengthen its contribution to the ever changing Earth. With the expression “elemental beings” are meant fractals of Gaia, the cosmic consciousness of the Earth, that support vital processes in nature and in the landscape. Gaia Touch exercises are based upon synchronicity between the body movements and our capacity of imagination. It is not always needed to have in mind the background of the given exercise while performing it.
Yet it is good to know its purpose and which of its movements need to be supported by the corresponding inner image. If more background information to the themes of the Gaia Touch is needed look into author’s books: Universe of the Human Body and Dancing with the Earth Changes (all by Lindisfarne Books). You can get help also from videos where the author shows how to perform the exercises, to be found at www.markopogacnik.com. Gaia Touch exercises are also published in the form of Cards with author’s drawings published by Genius Loci Publishing in two versions, English and German.
They can be ordered at www.geniusloci- publishing.com Everybody is free to use Gaia Touch exercises, to perform them publicly, to adjust them to one’s intuition, to teach them to others, and to enjoy them by oneself. I propose three possibilities of collaboration:
Marco’s presentation will be a recorded introduction followed by a facilitated workshop
Helen Poynor: Tree Time Score (see workshop description)
Elaine Quinn with Mumta Ito
DISCUSSION Nature’s Rights – shifting the paradigm in law
Wednesday 29 • 10.00 – 11.00 • Studio 1
This session is a live conversation between Elaine Quinn (as interviewer) and Mumta Ito (as interviewee). Mumta Ito, founder of Nature’s Rights, advocates for a complete paradigm shift within law. As it currently operations, our legal systems are founded upon, and therefore exacerbate, a worldview that is mechanistic, anthropocentric and adversarial (i.e. a bedrock that is a state of separation). The crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, species destruction etc. which we see all around us today are surface impacts of what is a much deeper-rooted issue – an outdated state of consciousness in the law (as law’s role is to solidify and validate humanity’s values at any given time). As well as groundbreaking policy work and advocacy in the European Union and elsewhere, Mumta and Nature’s Rights work on a very practical and somatic level to bring this paradigm shift into being within the law. In this session, we will discuss her constellation work as a somatic trauma resolution tool, the impacts it can have and has had, as well as hearing Mumta’s own whole-body transformation from a high-flying commercial lawyer in London to a spiritually oriented advocate for Nature’s Rights now based in Findhorn in Scotland. Mumta may also be able to give a live demonstration of her constellation work.
Living in a sentient world: an inquiry
Monday 27 • 09.30 – 11.00 • Studio 1
Amitav Ghosh writes in his recent book The Nutmeg’s Curse of the ‘great burden’ of those involved in telling stories: ‘to us falls the task of imaginatively restoring agency and voice to nonhumans’.
Over the past two years I addressed this challenge through initiating and participating in a series of co-operative inquiries drawing on living cosmos panpsychist philosophy to explore questions of the kind, ‘What would it be like to actively recognise that we live in a world of sentient beings? How would we relate to such a world? And if we invoke such a world of sentient presence, calling to other-than-human beings as persons, might we elicit a response?
Co-operative inquiry has two central characteristics that make it profoundly suitable for inquiry into a sentient world: it treats those involved—both human and by extension other-than-human persons—as subjective, self-directing beings and therefore as equal participants in the inquiry process; and it emphasizes the experiential ground of knowing. Co-inquirers cycle together through experiential, presentational, propositional, and practical ways of knowing so that any conclusions drawn are grounded in experience of direct physical encounter with River.
Living cosmos panpsychism rejects the materialist assumptions of the modern worldview. It starts from the position that sentience—mind, subjectivity, and the will to self-realization—is a fundamental aspect of matter, just as matter is a fundamental aspect of mind. Philosopher Freya Mathews writes that the presuppositions and beliefs we bring to our encounter with the world act as a kind of invocation—they call up reality under a particular aspect or aspects, so that this is the aspect that reality will reveal to us in the course of the encounter’. The world is capable of—actively seeks—engagement with us, opening the possibility of a communicative encounter, o reciprocal presence, presence that answers back when our questions send out tentacles of attention in search of it.
I have been part of four inquiry projects seeking to encounter the rivers, not as passive objects winding through the countryside, but as living, sentient beings, as River. We were finding our way into an explicitly animist and panpsychic view of the world; a world not of objects but of persons, human and other-than-human; a world of sentient beings who, if we called, if we invoked their living presence, might offer a gesture in response. We agreed to visit our local River weekly, approaching with due respect to a community of other-than-human person. Characteristically we would introduce ourselves, offer loving attention and presence, and maybe engage in meditation, ceremony, song, gift-giving. After each visit we each shared an account of our engagement and met on zoom to explore and make sense of our experiences. By the time of the Conference, I expect this will have involved over 60 human participants and Rivers worldwide in these inquiries.
This presentation will start with a brief description of the inquiry process. However, I intent to take most of the time to offer narrative accounts of our encounters with Rivers, demonstrating both the subtle and the dramatic responses.
Integral Ecoawareness Training and Practice – In hindsight
Tuesday 28 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 3
In 2008 I had organised and facilitated a workshop/gathering titled ‘Integral Ecoawareness Training and Practice’. I further had mapped out a curriculum for a year long workshop series. From the introduction: ‘…An invitation to explore life through the personal experiential perspective. … Integrating awareness through the body and creative processes we are providing a save framework for people to become aware of and dismantle their cultural believe system in order to allow new ways of perceiving, thinking and experiencing to emerge. We want to allow new ways of behavior, relating and organizing. … Eco-awareness offers a strong grounding in a deeply felt, connected and integrated understanding of oneself as a part of the living Earth. It is the ability to perceive oneself, to feel, to think and to act as a part of a greater living system that is the Earth. …” In this presentation I share how the workshop came about and also my personal reflections after 14 years of curious, often painful, yet instructive observation.
The facilitators for the workshop were myself, Satu Palokangas, Stefa Roth and Bruno Caverna.
Dr Matt Smith
Talking to a malformed root and expanding foam: speculative sentience in performing objects
Tuesday 28 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 3
Talking to, talking with and talking through objects is a ridiculous practice. This can be found in fine art assemblages, puppetry, performance art, ecological performance and litter. Relating to these practices in the world of theory speculating about the propensities of objects is now well established and theorised, most recently through object oriented ontology and new materialism. This practice and theory of embodied relations is articulated by Tim Morton and his arguments for a more attuned understanding of our networks. Tuning into objects is an arts practice that questions our positionality to things and our productions of the human-made and apparently natural objects that surround and affect us. In this performance lecture I frame practices that valorise the object intentionally asking questions about objecthood and ecology. This practice aims to provoke the audience into reconsidering their relationship to the often ignored more than human and non-human entities and systems. The centre for this performance lecture is a malformed root and a piece of expanding foam left as litter on the street. I actively engage with the objects through a dialogue that intertwines with their presence as an entity growing in meaning and significance. I problematise my relationship with these objects, in what I will argue is a topsy turvy ontology, where both our material statuses shift and mutate through our performance exploration. This performance lecture relates to my scholarship exploring the relation of ecology to performing objects and puppets.
Tuesday 28 • 15.45 – 16.15 • Studio 1
The Body is Doorway
Our wounds don’t just show up in our bodies. They show up in our ecosystems. When we feel pain, we must ask where that pain is asking us to direct our gaze. What plant, landscape, ocean, mountain, or fungus resonates with our particular plight? How can we let personal illness galvanize us into greater connection with our ecosystem? What if the bodies of the disabled, survivors abuse, the neurodivergent, the chronically ill were not broken and in need of constant fixing and problematization? What if they were compasses that directed us out of anthropocentric narratives? In an age of mass extinction and ecological crisis, coming back to our bodies will not necessarily be pleasurable. But those people that live with conditions that give them non- normative physical experiences may have much to teach us about how our pain is a portal into greater participation with the “flesh of the world”.
Quote from paper: “If I can’t fix this then let me understand how it could be my superpower. If I can’t close my sensory gating, then open me wider. Dilate me like a cervix so that I may be the birth canal for stories that are not about human beings and human progress. Let me become a doorway for viruses and ecosystems and fungi and dove song. Let me become a doorway so big and so open that a new way of being can emerge, one not tied to the fiction of human individuals. One that is equally aware of the agony and ecstasy and is allowed to wildly swing out of the window of tolerance, achieving both the valleys and peaks that our culture has denied us. Let me exceed the graph. Let me swing past wellness into something wilder and less predictable.”
Lisa May Thomas
VR technology the sensing body – disrupting and activating the felt sense
Tuesday 28 • 09.30 – 10.00 • Studio 1
Taking a dance-somatic standpoint, the complexities of virtual and corporeal bodies and environments using multi-person Virtual Reality technology (VR) are investigated. Broader aims are to unpack the ways in which VR technology disrupts and severs a felt sensed connection to the living world, and the ways in which it might be an aid in providing explicit experiential sensations of this disruption and severance in order to re-sense. Dancers move attending to a field of sensation which is felt and tactile, undertaking somatic and sensory practices to de-centre vision so to foreground and thus activate non-visual and somatic senses. From this dancerly standpoint, entering into an encounter with VR brings into play the immediate effect of a perceptual tension or ‘gap’ between the visual, virtual environment and the physical, felt environment. Technologists and artists engaging with VR typically find ways to cover-over this perception gap in order to create a reality that is fluidly and synchronously experienced by the participant. Participatory performance projects Figuring (2018) and Soma (2020) challenge this approach. Drawing on participant responses to Figuring, and the creative development of Soma, a number of themes are presented and discussed which unpack and challenge normative notions and expectations around VR technology and how bodies sensorially engage with the technology. An ‘ethics of care’ which calls for somatic activation and participatory agency in human encounters with technology is discussed and offers outcomes for more empathetic, felt-sensed human-planet relations and ecologies.
A long intimate conversation with some rocks
Tuesday 28 • 12.30 – 13.00 • Studio 6
My name is Peter Ward. The root meaning of these words is either ‘rock guardian’ or ‘rock bard’. Both are good places to start… Since 2018, but inspired by a lifetime in natural history, I have worked as a visual artist and educator almost exclusively with earth pigments gathered and processed by hand in south west England. This work has evolved over time into a conversation with (what some believe to be) sentient materials, the rocks and clays and soils that inhabit and have provided the foundation of our existence in this part of the world. They are (as are all things) unique, formed in response to environmental factors and conditions specific to time and place embodying, subject to evolution and change and expressing the cultural essence of their locale. To my surprise, opening up creatively to their individual personalities and character, their voices, utterly and instantly transformed not only my artistic practice but my life as a whole, providing a perspective inspired by geological ‘reality’ and process, and a means to better understand the nature of where I lived and of my own indigenous relationship within it. The actions of foraging and processing the materials in the landscape is very much a bodily experience contributing to any final expression through absorbed symbiotic provenance. I have become intrigued by the many ways we may communicate with each other, both through empirical scientific evidence and more elusive or non-quantifiable intuitive ‘spiritual’ means. Our relationship has formed the basis for projects to include such earthly beings in local political process (https://www.artsandcultureexeter.co.uk/news/painting- a-parish-future) and to explore aspects of our much-lost indigenous identity and voice (https://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/happenings#peter) , essential to re-evaluation of our ecological relationship and commitment. Such questions as “how do I ask for permission [to take you]?”, “how much [of you] may I take?” and “can I justify my actions/your extraction through their long- term intention?” will always arise. These are fundamental questions that need answering in this time of crisis and ones that human language cannot always answer. I am currently situated in West Cornwall, foraging for pigments amidst transformative igneous intrusions and historic mining waste of the region, raising further questions about our relationships with earth. Most recently, and predominantly throughout Covid-19 lockdown, my focus has turned to the body and myself and ideas of indigenous identity through the use of gathered pigments as a face painting medium (as featured in Art dot Earth artist of the month November 2020 https://art- earth.org.uk/peter-ward-2/). While the project’s intention is primarily of joyful and simple aesthetic expression, exploring possibilities of gender and ecologically determined personal transformation, it has also been accused of cultural appropriation and racial inappropriateness, questions very pertinent to this age. This illustrated presentation will explore my personal journey with rocks, clays and soils as my companions and tackle some of the questions that have arisen.
Tuesday 28 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 6
Disrupted Meadow – Carran Waterfield ‘Sentient Performativities – thinking alongside the human’ struck a chord with my current work. I felt compelled to make a tentative proposal. My space is my room at home, the Sefton Coastline and the Strata ‘sites’ Sandra Reeve visits in her work with participants on the Dorset Coastline. I would be interested to temporarily transplant my practice to Dartington Hall as part of the conference you are proposing and within the Amerta Movement Stream. ‘Disrupted Meadow’ is arising from my movement study with Sandra Reeve (Move into Life) through participation in her ‘Strata: Autobiographical Movement and Project group modules’ together with my daily life as a theatre and performance maker and local government councillor. Currently, I am in a space of anxiety, bereavement and healing. I am in a process of making anew. I notice my practice shape-shift, recycle, rematerialize and play out again and again. I am in change and I am made through disruption: uprising, splitting. I am working with the unexpected, the inevitable, the uninvited and the unwanted. I am in constant dialogue with choices that cause disruption and disruptions that form and inform choices. I am reprocessing preoccupations, scratching at itches and sores, reframing stories and tellings. I am playing and replaying over and over again. I am working with pain and an ageing body. I am coming to a head in a meadow on a collapsing cliff that is whispering the inevitable to the meadows that are coming after with their cows, their dogs, their hedgerows, their foxgloves, their walkers and their forever bowing grasses. We are going down and down and down and now the drowning comes. “It’s just a stage you’re going through.” I am exploring a stage. ‘Disruptive Meadow’ is currently taking the form of poetry, film and a blog with live in- moment performance when I have the opportunity. I am developing this through chance meeting points and collisions between my original practice derived from various body-based practitioners (see biography) in combination with a new awakening practice that is emerging from the study with Sandra Reeve and her approaches to movement and awareness. I am unsure what stage I will be at for the conference but would be very happy to share where ever I am up to. You can see the working process as currently documented: https://carranwaterfield.co.uk/disrupted- meadow-strata-june-2021/ and https://carranwaterfield.co.uk/mum-the-muse-and-her-dogs/ If you want to dig deeper into the source and disruption that led to the current work you can go to the following sections of writing Follow the Stone (this traces the work on Strata 2020) https://vimeo.com/showcase/7259449
Embracing the nature within – moving into relationship with the darker aspects of body ecology
Monday 27 • 11.30 – 12.00
Somatic-based dance and movement practitioners have long incorporated nature-based practice into their work, think Olsen, McHose, Reeve, Halprin. This work has supported an understanding that movement in nature nurtures a healthy relationship with the other-than-human world that helps us to feel connected with the natural world and therefore less likely to abuse it and want to destroy it. And this is important, life-affirming work, as I can testify from my own participation and practice. Yet, it often focuses only on ‘nice’ aspects of the natural world – the sense of somatic co-creation with a tree, or plants, grass, rock, sand, earth, water; or animals, creatures we may come across in our lives, pets, horses, cows, sheep, birds or fish; or a perhaps a sublime landscape; most of us are probably also willing to embrace a relationship with more wild or scary members of the natural world, wolves, bears, snakes, reptiles, creepy-crawlies. However, for me, the question arises, how can we have a truly healthy, balanced relationship with nature, which supports a productive, sustainable and effective approach to ecological renewal, when we are at the same time abusing and neglecting, and often actively destroying, a vital aspect of Earth’s ecology?
In the last 30 years research has discovered the microbiome that functions as an intelligent, life-giving soil, a web of other-than-human beings, bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. This web of micro-organisms supports all of life on earth, but we have waged war on it for many decades, and continue to, both environmentally and in our own bodies.
Many somatic practices support participants to explore and develop their interoceptive felt sense through movement guided by sensing organs and body systems, the cellular nuts and bolts if you like, but like the rest of the world we have mostly neglected our own body ecology, our own microbiome, our own world of friendly and unfriendly micro-organisms that supports our place in the evolutionary process of the life/death cycle and connects us to the whole of Earth’s ecology. Rather than understanding it, nurturing it, and respecting its wisdom and intelligence, we are taught and encouraged to be scared of it. If we are frightened of these darker aspects of our internal environment and seek to destroy them, then we will want to destroy similar aspects of the external natural world and any steps we take to transform our ecological crisis will be limited by this. In this presentation I will explore ways that somatic-based movement and dance practices can begin to change this; help us to find a different, healthier relationship with our own internal ecology; becoming co-creative partners with the whole reality of life in and around us; embracing a more holistic experience of inter-species connections that includes bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses; in other words, both life and death and help us to transcend fear of both, in our own internal natural world and in the environment around us. The presentation will include an informal presentation and a short experiential movement practice.
Crossed Paths – Crawling with Trees
Wednesday 29 • 10.00 – 10.30 • Studio 6
Crawling on my hands and knees is a simple and profound, humbling and empowering gesture. It is a silent, slow and gentle act of civil disobedience, it is a form of activism. From a non – upright position the world looks very different; I can see, hear, smell, taste and feel the world as though for the first time, and I can wonder at how the world might see itself. From down there I can visualize new possibilities and generate new narratives. By temporarily altering my physical and sensory perspective I am able to imagine how I, we, humans could co- exist in a non – hierarchical relationship with our non – human others, and so how we could establish a new, equal and ethical interspecies dynamic. When I crawl I am presenting my body as a site for new encounter and a platform for human and non – human exchange. I hope that when I am seen crawling on my hands and knees carrying a tree on my back, that the tree is seen first, or that we are both seen simultaneously, equally. I also hope that I might inspire other unexpected, creative and positive ways of imagining how we can co- habit and interconnect with our non – human species towards a sustainable future.
I propose to present an artists talk on a series of recent projects; Crossed Paths – Oak, Birch, May, Bardsey Apple and Scots Pine made since January 2020 in a range of locations and contexts, through film, photographs and text. I would also like to lead a collective crawl workshop/performance with conference attendees, delegates and trees.
somatics and psychedlics
Monday 27 • 12.00 – 12.30
Describing the somatic sensations that arise from ingesting these biochemicals, and exploring the possibilities of fresh, embodied perspectives. Nikki has spent a lifetime interacting with plant medicines both theoretically and practically; as a member of the counterculture, as a ritualist, as an Ecology graduate, and in recent years as the editor of the Psychedelic Press Journal, as well as of many books. She is currently Chair of Breaking Convention, a charity which holds Europe’s largest and longest running conference on psychedelics. https://nikkiwyrd.com/ and/or https://psychedelicpress.co.uk/ https://www.breakingconvention.co.uk/