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letters from TryAngle

Thursday 13th of September 2012

Dear Grandpa,

Exercised bodies enter the day exercising. In a room called the barn, they meet in the mornings, before the verbal meeting starts; they share different warm-ups. For instance, Alwynne, who is a musician, composer and a dancer, photographer… has learned some of the Gaga technique in Israel. She passes on the impulse to fluid movements. Giving attention to specific parts of the body, to how they relate, to the people in the room, to the room itself, to the thumbs and wrists, always moving, going through different degrees and qualities of intensity – there is a kind of organic consciousness and flux that goes through these exercises.

There are many languages spoken here: Russian, Finnish, Persian, Swedish, German, French, Italian, Polish, Taiwanese, Spanish, English – English of course. The common denominator, in a way, a language that would gather all together, that all reinvent with accents and hesitations, composite vocabulary, foreign to the only British participant, Alwaynne. There are other combinations: Arentinian+Persian=German. And we all live on the Portuguese basso continuo, language that sounds in the kitchen, between some autochthon artists, organizers, in the wings and in town, when we happen to go out to eat, or to walk on the streets.

There are many artistic languages spoken here, by dancers, choreographers, actors, stage directors, performers, musicians, writers, philosophers, visual artists…

and all they do, all we constantly do out of category – speak our singularity, each one and each one related to another one, crossing our lives learned by heart with astonished memories, reinvented.

People are universes. How much of them can we perceive?

Leandro makes dancing portraits. People would chose a song they want to dance on, three times, in a dark room where in its centre the body is lit. The three dances recorded will be put in a sequence next to each other on the screen. How different or coherent is the relation between one’s movements and speech? He asks each one about the role of art in society, about artistic quality, about happiness. Is this something in itself? Or material to do something else?

One scene today really reminded me of the game we used to play. How often have we held a leg or pulled an arm, restricted someone’s step or the movement towards – what was then getting unreachable?! Living restrained. We said. After Matthiew Barney’s work. I had to think of this, how we used to laugh; it was just a matter of time, of how long we could slow each other’s basic movements down, movements that we don’t even realise we do all the time, when they work, unbroken: limited, they would become heavy and tense. We laughed for it was the game, but still knew it was a way to stand human condition, facing gaps, inventing tools to relate with what is beyond the limits drawn out. Be right in the middle of our limits, as we are, when we carry on moving towards –

Miguel tore his leg in the beginning of the week.

“I can laugh. I can cry. And I am very shy.”

He had thrown a glass of water into his face and broken the ice of Sunday presentations. Playing. And saying his human being without a career. Being the reflection of what we all are.

Now he goes with crutches. Forced to immobility when he needs to go on.

For the portrait he starts a dance on Philippe Glass (Glass Reflections, Symphony #3 – Mvt. 3). With the repetitive rhythm of cellos, he battles against his untouchable wound, the centre around which he revolts, taking the crutches as arms, battling unceasingly against the foreign body, even after the music stopped, taken by the movement he had entered. Looking at him, we were taken in his injury. And his aggressiveness became quieter. Slowly. The wound was still there, unchanged. As his twinkling eyes that look into the world like a child marvels at his mother’s face were unchanged. Seemingly. What had happened then? He had concentrated his obsession to get over the disability. At once it was obvious. He had played the game.

Some people have similar tongues, and we would attribute their understanding to a common spoken language, cultural references, or artistic vocabulary. Are preferences the product of education? Perhaps they are, partly. Still I wonder how selective and clear, somehow instinctive affinities and incompatibilities are. How naturally we are inclined to understand this whilst we force ourselves to that. How one inspires and the other deafens us. And from sibling to sibling, from pupil to pupil it would be extremely different. Are our sensitivities and dispositions, ways of thinking, of acting, of composing related to any identifiable criteria? Sometimes we find out about correlations, about reasons. But most so called reasons would stay behind, cannot reach the reason why a link works or doesn’t.

Some meetings are fruitful for that they are. And this project, TryAngle, in which the artists are involved, this time in Montemor, trying to work together, I think, is mainly about this: create the conditions in which meetings can happen.

We spend our time solving misunderstandings, more than we actually understand, says Raman, the Iranian stage director, whose Persia is an image he wouldn’t recognize in the country he has left more than twenty years ago. Fragments of separated rooms he wants to explore. Those between people. Those who people are. He wants to put them on stage.

Why not leave Portugal as many leave the crises? He would ask the Portuguese participants: Jacinto, Miguel and Sofia each staged differently, in separated situations. He asks what leaving means. What they would escape, what they would miss. How they could orientate elsewhere. How they deal with their past and what future they are wishing for. If a revolution could make things change. He would talk about himself. He would tell his story upon which his questions are based; questions some understand as their own, but don’t seem to concern others. And Raman would continue telling his story and the others could play, with fiction. Sofia shall repeat how she had presented herself on Sunday. How she was afraid of losing her father and made him sing goodbye so she could get prepared. She shall start a solo, a role she has played before. She shall make her frame within his frame. Be part in a part that is not hers. To be a fragment she would have to separate and create her own. And the separated rooms would be what they are meant to show. Separations. And this stage would be coherent? How sterile is separation? Or the starting point to a reinvented cohesion? To what extend do we create the reality we observe? And if we see the responsibility we take in our sight, how can we decide in which direction we look?

I can only see the world though my own eyes. Seeing the world in order to feel myself is quite different from telling what I see to understand what I see. And what I see depends on how I refer to the world that would gain reality as my sight relates to it?

With affection yours, Isis