‘A Site for Unfixing’ by Laura Burns, 2019

A Site for Unfixing

Laura Burns anticipates Lucy Suggate and collaborators’ Spirit Compass: Where there is movement there is change, a CONTINUOUS Commission with BALTIC and Siobhan Davies Dance.

This piece is drawn from a conversation between Laura and Lucy.

Text in italics suggests Lucy’s voice, as remembered by Laura.

The work might be a culminating of threads, a gathering up of a critical mass, a communal embodiment, it might be a response to the question What Can be Done? Yet the drag beneath the crest of the wave is not an answer or its finality, but a relentless dedication to staying with the trouble –

The contradiction and complexity you learn to metabolise in dance seem to contain the possibility for staying with and spilling over all at once: for bodies to be grounded in a practice, acclimatising, with space to rest, a remedy // an antidote; simultaneously asking how the body can be agitated and agitating, even when it might not be able to stand in central London in protest, or even if that sphere of resistance has also been co-opted

we are always ready to go –

Lucy describes an everyday transcendentalism experienced through reaching heightened states of consciousness in daily practice not saving myself for public or for an audience. Already the linearity between rehearsal and performance is interrupted through this practice of abundance, so that when Lucy speaks about the work as a porous site it feels continuous with the ongoing labour. I imagine the site as an island and a temple, a space that has an ability to unfix things, for bodies to gather there ... unfixing the binaries that are such a stranglehold on process, living, moving, shifting, changing –

a kind of weather, you can absorb

maybe like how people listen to jazz,                 or experimental music

people go and sit down and they take the permission

to close their eyes                                              and drift off

to get lost in the environment,

if we apply that to watching moving bodies –

Is it important that this spirit labour is witnessed?

We speak about shifting the conventions of spectatorship that scrutinise the body, a tradition of form believing itself detachable from context. What feels present in Lucy’s invoking of states and atmospheres as in her practicing the ethics of production, is an attendance to the conditions of emergence: composing through the practice in the moment of performance, and asking how to find another way of making work that can deal with the complex ever changing context or idea of multiplicity? The question asks for a sustainable model for performers’ labour and living, as much as how to provide the conditions for the nonhuman, the non-rational, the expanded version of ourselves to emerge – the co-existing containers of practicality and magic necessary for things to enter and things to leave.