_What am I looking for? If this journey is about seeing art, about discovering inspiration, or even replenishment, then what do I hope to see? Of course, I don’t fully know the answer. I do know that I don’t care so much about the shape or form of it, but I want to see something born out of necessity, something that feels essential, that has the mark of the maker’s blood and sweat and tears on it. It should be personal. It should certainly extend beyond a mere demonstration of skill, (I’ve grown to really detest that over the years. It’s the sure sign of an artist who wants to be loved but not known.)
Will it come to me as a fresh take on dance/theater? Well, that would be great but I have no such presumption. I will certainly cast my net wider than that. I will look at art and architecture and cabaret and street theater, in high places and in the sweet low ones. I will get up in the morning with my art finding lens affixed to my head and to my heart. I’m bound to find something, don’t you think?
_This blog will be a blurting out, a telling, a clumsy reportage. It will be personal and messy and reflect the internal meanderings of the teller. I am sure it won’t draw any conclusions or support its subjective views with much historical data. There will be very little editing or fixing along the way. If I put that pressure on myself (to be “writerly”) than I will be paralyzed and nothing I put down will ever look good enough. So here goes…….
—- too many flights. i feel slightly ill. can’t seem to get sleep. still i am starting to settle into the daydream that is traveling alone. deep in my books. even deeper into my museum experience. no one to divert me into my personality. no one to react for, for whom to make intelligent summations of what I see, hear. this is somehow a blessing for me. i can respond more authentically without satisfying someone else’s idea of what my response should be. does that make any sense? I have realized on these european sojourns that I am really a deeply aesthetic creature. maybe aesthetic is not the right word. I am deeply receptive to art that vibrates with its own truth. i can respond in a childlike way. i can dream with it. no one else is needed. i don’t seem to need a third party to validate this experience. i must say that i am surprised to learn this about myself. most of my artmaking and art viewing has been such a social experience. it is deliciously “un”social to experience art in this solitary way.
I wish I could start with something I loved art wise. Maybe this won’t be so easy. My second night here I had failed to get tickets for anything at Tanz Im August, actually the only performance slated on my first free evening was LA LA LA Human Steps from Montreal. I have seen them a few times before and the work delivers thrills of a certain kind- it’s very high tech dancing, ballet with a metallic edge, fierce and trying to be frankly sexual, I think, although it fails for me on that level as ballet mostly does. Some of my thoughts of that evening:
It might be an expression of my ambivalence about seeing lalala that I didn’t get tickets in advance. I feel a palpable weight in my feet as I wander up and down the bandalee looking for the strasse that will take me to the Berliner Festspiele. Everything seems more interesting to me than bearing witness to high tech dance- the trees almost choked out by construction, their wan greenness and the way they lean so fragile against the impromptu walkway that has been built up around them- like lillian gish on that famous icefloe, these poor saplings are destined for calamity and yet they never stop being lovely, waving and churning and slapping their vulnerable branches against the plywood wall. This is more pathos than I am likely to get where I’m going, I really must amend my attitude- just see, just see.
So I get there and get my name on a waiting list, surely there will be some no shows. I am given a little slip of paper with the number 24 on it and told to come back at five minutes til show time. I wander out into the courtyard. The art goers look familiar, not that different from the US high culture crowd, maybe a little more attenuated, a little more fierce in their arty attire. I wonder how many of them dread the high techness of the dance as much as I. Maybe they love it, maybe it provides them with some astringent pleasure like cleaning out the closet or scrubbing a pan til it shines. Anyhow, look…. there are people dancing out in the gravel walkway. Are they protesting the high artness of what is about to take place? Are they making the statement that it can be had for free and be just as good? And it is pretty good. The bodies are all coiled and athletic, the men with such pronounced ab muscles they are practically bent in a C curve. It looks improvisational , swoopy, diving under and around each other’s limbs. It certainly feels like a familiar san fran vernacular, but expertly done. There is electronic pop music on a boom box providing an underlayer for the various groupings. I’m liking it in spite of myself. They really know how to follow these easy impulses through the body and let them shift and flourish in dynamic ways. Still, there is this thing that happens when we dance, particularly when we improvise, this kind of looking inward. Literally the eyes are in a blurry focus much the way a meditator might focus or “un” focus from the world around him. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I wonder what would happen if all this skill, this pleasure in the body was put to some outward task. What would it be? This is the question we are all asking ourselves. We can dance around an issue, we can put the stink of “content” on our dancing, but it often feels like it is imposed or false. Still, I am certain this group of movers could take me deeply into some territory (psychological, emotional) if there were just a little more context for what they’re doing. I pick a flier up off the ground, it says “berlingogos.de”. later I would check it out and discover that it was all in german, of course. But there was something about buying a dance or a dancer? Have one of them visit me in my hotel room? Hmmm, the mind reels. But still I think there is an idea there I would like to know more about. I will have to get one of my german friends to translate soon.
So it’s 5 minutes to 8, I slip back into the crowd at the box office window. Slowly, agonizingly, the box office person calls one number at a time, all the way to number 19 when he stops abruptly and says the box office is closed. I feel disappointed, then relieved, then delighted. I’m gonna go back and see my little saplings in the twilight.