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»Surface Encounters«

Tanzrecherche NRW #11 in Bielefeld
Magdalena Ptasznik und Eleonora Zdebiak
»Surface encounters«
14.5. – 23.7.2013

Der Recherche-Ansatz:
Magdalena Ptaszniks Recherche befasst sich mit den Begriffen Textur, Materialität und Stofflichkeit. Sie untersucht in ihrer Recherche sensorielle Wechselbeziehungen zwischen dem menschlichen Körper und dem Bewusstsein einerseits sowie den Oberflächen von Objekten der Umwelt andererseits. Ihr Ziel ist es, experimentell – u. a. im engen Kontakt mit dem Publikum – ein intimes Format zu entwickeln, das anderen Teilnehmern einen interaktiven Erlebnisraum für neue Eindrücke und Interaktionsmuster eröffnet.


Please give a short summary of the intended research in NRW
My main interests focus around the material environment of our life. I treat matter as the only experience that we share with full certainty. It does not serve solely as a decoration or background for human activity but, rather, the encounter with it is an important and intimate incident that contributes to our formation. I am interested in how the materials, objects mark out our space, what is the exchange between this environment and the body, how do they influence and transform each other.
During the NRW residency I want to explore how the material environment can cause a transformation in the sensorial body, how this process can further transform the material environment and how it can shift the perception of this environment in the spectator. Sensorial information from material, objects and relation between them will serve as initial impulse for change; the subjective imagination being the further tool of transformation.

As a mode of approaching reality I am interested in this what is possible to observe - the 'surface'. I am not interested in working with the 'psychological truth', that is mined from the depth of the psyche. On the contrary, my interest lies in the reality that comes to existence through the physicality, materiality, spacial relations, meetings of surfaces. This approach do not explore the possible representations or interpretations of meanings, however it does not limit or denny them. In fact, and that is crucial for me, it keeps in continuous contact with them: the mark on the surface certifies existence of other layers. This paradox of body – being the matter and never just an abstract object, always particular lived body – is what drives me into this work.

Through this research I want to develop the physical practice that would be a core of the performance. It is also important for me to take time to analyze and understand what could be potential performance situations in which this practice can communicate with intensity.

What will be your practice ?
I want to engage in practicing the state of being in which the body acts from receiving sensorial information from the matter. This means working on developing specific sensitivity and attention towards qualities of materials and objects. I decide to trust to the body moving in proposed conditions before having an agenda for it to move. While engaging in the practice I will experiment with the environment – objects, materials. In the midst of this practice my work will be to notice what is happening – what desires, contents, relationships, associations, connections, strategies of action body reveals and to cultivate 'those'. Cultivating 'those' might be by intensifying what was recognized and further allowing 'that' to be seized by imagination. I'm interested how, what taken from the material experience can travel through the particular lived body, its imagination and come back in space in a new shape.

In search for objects/materials that can evoke physical interest and stimulate imagination I want to look at three sources. Firstly, I want to work with the actual space – the walls, the floor, details that are in there. Secondly, to look at the objects that are in the nearest environment of the body (eg. clothes, blankets, carpets, pillows, plates). As the third source I'm looking at the photos from daily newspapers, reportage pictures that are building the representation of human life landscape. I look objects and their relation with bodies catch my attention.

Can this research-practice become choreography?
When thinking about performance I am interested in creating a sensorial experience for both, the performer and the audience. By experience I understand a duration where the attention gets sharpened and shifted, where some movement is provoked, that would give potentials for new possible encounters with other possible bodies, feelings, sensations, interactions, orders.

I'm interested in searching for the format that creates intimacy with the audience. I want to invite people to enter my working environment, allow their bodies to become the part of it, invite them to encounter the work and my encounters within it. I want to explore what views and experiences can bring the proximity of the bodies and different ways of organization of performing space.

What is specifically outstanding and innovative about the project?

What I find special about my proposition is the decision to engage in the 'poor' choreographic process. Its 'poorness' arises from the decision about its starting point - an open practice that has frame but aims at unknown, has to organise itself from inside. The challenge of it is to commit to the task that I don't know what will bring, trust the body and become the lover of observation to cultivate the interests. Also, I believe that the approach, that does not look ahead of the practice to decide about the public form in which the it can live, but lays out the question concerning it in the midst of doing, will bring an innovative form.

How will you proceed?
I want to divide the working time into periods of working alone and 5 sessions with Eleonora Zdebiak, a dramaturge who lives in Cologne (3 days each). In the second half of the residency I want to organize a few presentations to bigger group of spectators.

In the first period (approx. 6 weeks) I'll focused on regular practice, contextual research and search for materials and experiments with different materials. In the second period (4 weeks) I'll maintain daily practice (more focused on developing specific interests), look at and experiment with the space organization (What space organization emerges from practice? What brings manipulation of space?), ask how this practice can function as public performance potential performing situations (What do they provoke?).

The main methodological assumption of my work is the daily practice (as described in the project description) and is's observation. An essential element of my methodology is the colaboration with Eleonora. I find it very important to have a person who will observe, engage deeply in dialog, feed the process from a different point of view and reflect with me on most possible extremes that the work can reach.

The observation of the practice, both from in and outside is an essential part of tracing and cultivating interests. I want to assure myself diverse points of view in this observation, capture my parallel thoughts and imaginary through keeping a record of talking and writing as well as using a video registration. I also consider as important to invite guests to be witnesses to my physical practice. As the interests start to emerge and I start to name them I want to reach out to outside the practice to feed them. These would meant finding cultural contexts, references. That could be visual materials (art, popular culture, film), theoretical texts that could help to understand me what is needed to intensify them. Parallel to physical work I will engage in 'enlarging the spectrum of seeing' through searching for visual materials (photos related to relations of bodies and materials from press, art, my own photos) and creating own designs of space. In doing this I'll, like in practice, look for interests that appear and investigate them further.

Which connections to persons or institutions, if so, would you like to establish in Bielefeld resp. North Rhine Westphalia to enforce your research?

Eleanora Zdebiak, dramaturge and dancer whom I invited to collaborate lives herself in Koln. I've been looking for possibility of collaboration of both of us and I find NRW Tanzrecherche a great opportunity to do it.

I would like to keep the research open to the outside eyes. I'd be curious to meet visual artists whose feedback could feed my ideas.

In October 2011 I participated in the Choreographic LAB (Art Stations Foundation, Poznan, Poland) with some participants from Dusseldorf area. Among them I met Sergej Maingardt, the sound artist and composer living in Düsseldorf, whose work I found very sensitive and interesting. I'd like to take this opportunity to reconnect and invite him to some working sessions in relation to further development of the project (after the residency).

What are the results you would like to achieve?
1. create a body of material that can be presented in the form of performative event, where clear interests are manifested in practice. This material might contain scores, specific physical activities, some scenes, performing strategies, as well as, selection of objects and materials related to practices, some possible space designees,
2. to get understanding of how this performative practice operates with the audience, what are important questions to be asked when thinking about the form, what is the potential of development of this work,
3. gaining knowledge concerning the methodology of my my work,
4. to get further knowledge and experience how my interests in materiality can develop in practice.

How and in what kind of format should the results be presented in public at the end of the research?
The results should be presented in the form of small intimate performance (studio or location(that could be eg. a small gallery room) fallowed by the practice of talking or writing with the audience. In the practice of talking/writing I'd like to moderate a talk with public myself, to propose earlier prepared questions concerning their experience. The format of the talk would be part of the event (but not the performance itself).

Kultursekretariat NRW Gütersloh
kulturpartner WDR3
Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen