Hosted by Independent Dance, Acts of Holding was a multi-layered workshop and talk by artist Anna Macdonald about concepts of holding in her practice, in the creative process and in the body.
Half way through the research phase of my own project, Do Not Alight Here, I was attracted to the idea of looking at containment as a creative process. Having often worked with video, I recognise the notion of the 2D space of the screen being a container for the work that unfolds in time. Moving into making live performances, I find it equally interesting to consider a work as a container that holds space and time. What does the work contain? What contains the work?
Since the workshop, I have become particularly interested in the concept of holding as a separated connection between artist and viewer, artist and participant, or the artist and the world. And the question of whether you can hold something that you are part of, or merged with? As I am currently making a work that invites a single participant to an abstracted tea ceremony (with me), how can I both hold (contain) the work, and maintain a connection – both honest and separated, with the participant. And is it my job to hold them, keep them safe?
The idea of myself, my performance and my set as discrete, but connected containers give me multiple layers through which to create the work.
On the second day of the workshop, Anna mentioned that she ‘enjoyed things or objects that preserve’. As repositories of stuff, (hi)story and memory, the objects in my new work re/present yet more containers around which the piece can develop and dance, with each person that joins me. Working on the piece in a residency at Blast Theory in December, it became clear just how important the particular detail of these objects is for the piece, or container that I aim to create.