OPEN ARE ALL WAYS BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF THE HEART by katie

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I'm pleased to announce an upcoming pair of collaborations for 3rd February, 2018:  Open are all ways beyond the boundaries of the heart, a performance night at Trois C-L (Centre de Création Choréographique Luxembourgeois) in Luxembourg. 

Alkistis Dimech will be wearing an evolved version of the costume created for the Night of Radiant Darkness, developed to work in conversation with the themes of her upcoming performance.

In collaboration with Gast Bouschet and Nadine Hilbert I am creating a garment utilizing Gast's artwork which will be included in their Poison Oracle presentation. The piece is in attempt to flesh out a conversation contemplating the death and rebirth cycle, the mystery of creative generation, and the breadth of primal genetic memory. Utilizing mixed media- electricity, leather, and thread- the piece in it's initial iteration will speak to the nervous system as an animating nexus point of energetic transduction, and acknowledge the body as both a necessary vehicle for achieving worldly expression and a limiting, defining vessel to be worked within.

Below are the contributions of the artists for the event, along with their respective biographies:

Alkistis Dimech – Passages through the skin
Dancing fantasmata into flesh, the choreographer and artists explore the interaction of fantasm (image/ghost) with matter in the moving body; the communication that arises through these interactions between insides and outsides, viscera and skin, memory and presence, and the mediums that bind them: sound, light, breath.

Angelo Mangini & Kevin Muhlen – Away from that line, In toward the earth
Music as a vibrational force, an abstract sorcery, unbound and forever moving between immediate and future experience; sonic lifeforms, both physical and spectral, affect and contaminate with an intensity that converts the human body into a space for resonance.

Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert – Poison Oracle
Painting and video installation on metamorphosis and the black art of poisoning; a meditation on the creative-destructive process of personal and suprapersonal change; a poiesis of violation, infection and elemental disturbance.
 

ALKISTIS DIMECH is a dancer, choreographer and writer, whose practice is principally grounded in the ankoku butō of Hijikata Tatsumi. She has trained with numerous dancers including Ko Murobushi and Atsushi Takenouchi, and has been performing as a solo artist since 2002. Alkistis Dimech studied Arabic and the History of Art and Music of Asia and Africa at SOAS, University of London, with a particular interest in the dance and theatre forms of South East Asia and Japan. Since leaving formal education, she has continued her investigations into the body and performance, studying diverse dramatic, dance, martial and healing arts. In 2008 she began to advance a personal interpretation of the ‘dance of darkness’ – sabbatic dance – in which the mythos of the medieval witches’ dance is the central motif in a conception of performance and performer that fuses the original radical and subversive impulse of butō with suppressed and neglected aspects of the culture and history of the West.

KEVIN MUHLEN and ANGELO MANGINI have been collaborating for almost 20 years, 13 of which as the guitar duo in the Luxembourg metal band ExInferis. After the disbanding of the latter they went separate ways, each in a quest for new musical and sonic horizons. Muhlen formed the post-metal band soleil noir and on his side Mangini formed Cosmogon. Their respective solo explorations have led them both to venture into drone music.

GAST BOUSCHET and NADINE HILBERT began collaborating in the 1990s. They have since created a complex body of work that challenges the fundamental principles underlying structure, visibility and power. Their practice spans an extensive range of media including photography, sound, video, painting and text based work. Bouschet and Hilbert's interventions are put into effect in marginal places and wilderness areas away from the public gaze as well as in contemporary art institutes and music festivals including Serralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal; BPS22, Charleroi, Belgium; Insomnia Festival, Tromsø, Norway; Bozar Brussels, Belgium; Darling Foundry Montreal, Canada; Cube Space Taipei, Taiwan; Philharmonie, Luxembourg; Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, Poland; Casino Forum d’Art Contemporain, Luxembourg; Busan Biennale of Contemporary Art, South-Korea; Camouflage Johannesburg, South Africa; Muhka Antwerp Belgium and CCA Glasgow, United Kingdom among others. In 2009 they represented Luxembourg at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

 

BLOOD RUST BONE TRIPTYCH by katie

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BLOOD // INTENTION // POTENTIAL
A heart hangs suspended inside of newly formed transparent flesh. Blood as
liquid intention, unexpressed potential.
Christening gown made from thrifted mosquito netting embroidered with butcher's
twine; the flesh is tulle; heart is made from velvet and chenille scraps, embroidery
floss, leather cording.


RUST // ALCHEMY // WORK
The process of rusting representing aging, the work of life- alchemical, unhurried
and unstoppable. The heaviest part of life, when we most densely occupy our
bodies. The burden of the work to midwife the potential present at birth,
transform it into principles that form an architecture of legacy. Rust as a process
is difficult to represent; in fabric it leaves a stain- simultaneously evidence of
presence and absence. The flesh, through the alchemization of work, is imprinted
with evidence of its toil and arrives at it’s ultimate lessons, which reduce to a
fundament of bones.
Vintage muslin and linen stained with rusted antique farm tools; bottom skirt
created by placing 23 railroad ties along two pieces of linen and watering them
twice daily, then knife pleated by hand; laundry line; Lapsong Souchong and St
John's Wort teas, vinegar, salt


BONE // LEGACY // OSSIFICATION
Lessons as legacy, what remains. Past action taken and lessons learned create
a foundation of principles distilled into structure. Theosophical diagram
representing the combining of the Immortal and Mortal selves of man forms the
bones.
1930s evening coat pattern adapted; vintage Italian bed linen; cotton thread
representing the process of embodying one’s work in the material plane and
combining it with spiritual guidance.

Textiles that composed the heart sourced in NYC garment district; all other
materials sourced in Italy.

A CONTROLLED UNRAVELLING by katie

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ON THE MAKING OF THE SKIRT FOR THE 'NIGHT OF RADIANT DARKNESS'  BPS22 CHARLEROI, BELGIUM, 21 JANUARY 2017

This is an ending which is also a beginning. A controlled unraveling.

One of the oldest instruments in the world, lur were Bronze era horns found in pairs deposited in bogs throughout Denmark. They were believed to have been crafted specifically for ritual purpose and were offered to the gods to secure fertility, a good harvest, and victory in battle for the Viking people. Bodies of water were considered holy places and were often used as sites of worship; bogs in particular represented liminality; seemingly endless, they encompassed both fluidity and solidity and were treated as a door to the underworld. Lur were believed to have been played in pairs during ceremony before being dedicated to the bogs and the gods; through these performances the horns and their music combined to become a single instrument utilized in communion with Other. As the products of time, craftsmanship, and resources, the horns were transformed – through their sacrifice – into vessels delivering both fulfilled and un-harvested potential.

I

In August 2016 at the Occult Conference in London Alkistis Dimech invited me to collaborate with her for her upcoming Butoh performance at the Metamorphic Earth exhibition in Charleroi, Belgium, in January 2017. Following conversations with Alkistis, the concept for the garment was born around the time of the Autumnal Equinox of 2016 in Italy, months before construction began. The project was initiated during a time of intense personal restructuring, and undertaken as an exercise in mindfully harvesting and redirecting that energy. Alkistis sent me Gast Bouschet’s manifesto ‘To Sorcerors’ during the conceptualization period, and it served as a lantern in the dark throughout the design process.

How does one willingly submit to the intense process of massive structural change? How does one allow that change to affect all systems? To disrupt oneself in a fundamental way and still have the center hold? By channeling and funneling that energy into a new, uncharted shape, being both the agent of your own destruction and the silent, shaping hand that re-forms; author and subject; architect and midwife; sculptor and clay.

The development of the skirt became a meditation on the process of active dissolution and mindful reformation; to represent potential, transformation, and manifestation in a garment. After months of research, a handful of primary influences converged: Erte’s Egyptian costumes, the Japanese hakama, and deconstruction and subtraction as construction techniques. Within the design of the garment I wanted to include the formed and unformed, the structured and unraveled, in addition to referencing Alkistis’s ideas on the significance of embodiment; utilizing the process of creating art, along with the art itself, as tools to both enable change and catalyze further transformation otherwise inaccessible outside of mindful practice; doing so by utilizing the body – here, my hands – and the act of creating.

II

The garment was opened in New York City in December 2016. Construction took place over the course of the weeks covering the astrological Grand Cross that occurred in January 2017. A single piece of vintage linen, sourced while living in Italy, was torn into strips to compose the skirt panels – twelve in total – along with separate portions for the front waist panel and tie; they were separated into two sections – four for the front and eight for the back. The idea was that the front and back of the skirt would only resolve into a single garment when tied to the body of the dancer (the third). Each panel was stitched together with a heavy steel 1949 Pfaff sewing machine from Copenhagen. Since the voltage for the machine was not compatible with American specifications, the machine stitches on the skirt were walked entirely by hand. After connecting the panels, each strip was then ripped into four roughly equal portions from the hem to the machine stitches. From this point on the rest of the work on the skirt was done with either tweezers or a hand-sewing needle, under the light of a construction lamp clamped to a file cabinet, in three-to-five hour sessions between the hours of 9pm to 2am. The soundtrack consisted of Tibetan throat singing, crocodile vocalizations, audiobooks on Jung, Kevin Muhlen and Angelo Mangini’s preliminary recordings for the event, and silence. I thought a lot about caves as primal earthen wombs, and about sewing and weaving as the earliest of human vocations- as old as hunting, as old as moving, as old as scratching images on cave walls.

To create the lower portion, weft threads were removed one by one until the entire bottom third of the garment was only loose warp threads. The most challenging part was creating the transitional area between the loose threads and the composed panels – intruding with tiny cuts, just enough to create space without disrupting the whole. The middle – the most beautiful part – is where the magic happened. By dragging the needle across the fabric and following the shapes that opened, unexpected pathways and patterns emerged; tiny negotiations with individual threads. In one panel the phases of the moon were represented; another uncovered a cluster of eyes. Each panel’s final pattern was unknown at initiation and developed until it reached a point of correctness and completion.

The intricacy of the design was a response to Gast’s ideas on the value of work being in opposition to its visibility, and his utilizing the concept of the micro made macro for this exhibit. The patterns in the panels were nearly indistinguishable from a foot away and went largely unseen by the audience. Like the intricate patterns found in nature – spider webs or the veins of a leaf – they were delicate and temporary and not intended to survive the event but rather to exist as evidence of time, effort, and effect. In fact, throughout the dress rehearsals as well as on the evening of the performance, individual strips and threads detached themselves and were left in a puddle of moving images.

Read from the top down, the skirt speaks to the active and mindful dissolution of a structured state. From the ground up the skirt speaks to the process of formation – individuals finding one another, weaving together into chaotic, random patterns, and merging into separate but connected halves that require a third to be animate. The skirt is as circular as the process of transformation itself – what is structured will always unravel, and what is formless will always move towards coherence.

III

The skirt was carried to Belgium open and finished feverishly the morning of the dress rehearsal. To bind the skirt shut, a handful of phrases were converted into Morse code and the dots and dashes were used as a stitch guide; the words were spoken as they were sewn. One phrase was Gast’s, 'Disequilibrium is necessary to the dynamic process of becoming,' while two others came from Alkistis, 'mara' – a proto-linguistic word meaning ‘womb’ – and the bone oracle symbol for ‘bu’ (movement, dance), which was stitched in five places along the inside of the waistband and tie. Their words bent me towards them, and so were woven back into the work. My own words were included as well, but will remain on the black side of silence. It was a codification of ideas, a layering of experiences and philosophies. Like a funneling gyre, these influences narrowed down from concept to time and place to the very fibers of the skirt, stacking and collapsing on the night of the performance as each element bled into the other. Intention, person, place, and image folded into one enunciation: Kevin and Angelo’s music filling the space; Gast’s images covering every surface – skin, walls, cloth; Alkistis in the skirt, surrounded by and moving through the images, channeling; the skirt itself wrapped around a body, finally fulfilled and fully activated.

Throughout the process of creation, I thought often about the purpose of sacrifice; of the fate of the lur; of giving something up and by doing so making it sacred. The skirt is my lur – horn crafted into instrument. The result of many hours of work and love, it existed for and was given over entirely to the collaboration. The performance acted as a kind of punctuation, and Alkistis dancing in the garment was the playing of the lur – a single act that was simultaneously the only dance the skirt will ever have and at the same time all the dances it will not. The morning after the event, it returned to empty cloth.

Written in the shadow the Vernal Equinox, March 2017.