Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The name rosa comes from sub-rosa which is latin for under the rose. Sub-Rosa refers to secret operations, links to confidentiality between people, and is overall, something occurring without public notice; essentially, underground going-ons. Though the experience on sunday was private it was also public; part of it was in confidence, and part of it was extremely exposed. For this reason, it was not necessarily sub-rosa; it was a rosa event.
We welcomed our guests to the Marble Hill Pub. Hopefully there, they felt warm, invited, included, anticipatory. Perhaps after feeling warm and comfortable they felt slightly restless, wanting to know what to expect and when to expect whatever it was that might happen. After they followed the performers outside to the park space, unexpectedly they formed sidelines like at a football game. They divided themselves, keeping us in the middle. From the photography, it seems people were making choices about where they wanted to stand, move to, and for the most part, they remained alone in their experience of ROSA. On one hand, how the spectators received the 'performance' was utterly individualised and non-demanding. The spectators had the control over where they placed their bodies, how close they chose to get to the performers, and whether they remained in the bleak cold observing aggression, play, animalistic behaviour, or comraderie. Though it may seem demanding for an audience to watch something outside in the cold, it was their choice to stay. It could also be seen as non-demanding in that there were no specific seating or standing placements, people had the choice to control their body's positioning. Interestingly, many children and dogs were very engaged in what was going on; the public paused to see what was happening. Most audience members braved the cold. Going back into the pub, like post-football or rugby game attendees, was a breath of comfort, a resort to warmth....
My experience was mainly positive. I felt like I could really manifest aggression in physical form without holding back; the contract we had between each other and our bodies was special. We knew nothing was personal; it was just an expression of athleticism and force that we don't often get to approach so wildly without holding back much. I felt proud of myself when I remained standing. Though there was a moment at the end when I was lying on the ground face down and felt Laura and Nefeli lying near me. I suddenly felt more non-living than I could have imagined. I really felt like I was in another dimension. In order to break the tension, my body started a fit of laughter; in essence, I was laughing at death.
Following the performance it struck me how morbid the imagery could be seen towards the end. We embraced being physical with the body; we mocked the violence of society; we displayed people bringing other people down (women bringing other women down); we demonstrated instances of force that may have been seen as extreme as rape; and we were footballers anticipating the ruggedness of the experience or the possibility of injury. But we were in black, covered in dirt, and some of us were immobile and relaxed/exhausted to the point of total stillness towards the end. It could have easily been seen as dead bodies. We were at the end, encircled by the audience; human curiousity is strong. The audience's bodies contained us; they contained our life and our death; ultimately, there is an underpinning for people controlling people; people trying to control (unsuccessfully) death.
My fascination with philosophies of life and death, particularly, existentialism in relation to Simone de Beauvoir and other French feminists, suffuses the performance work we do as a group. I could not ask for more courageous, talented, and powerful women to work with. Also, the spectators that came are becoming and growing as a community. In the future, I think we will play with having just two people, or perhaps having many people. What would happen if men were involved? What if we stayed in our dresses and stilettos? There are many future possibilities and more spaces to explore with these expressions of the fight for survival; the fight to remain in a pack; or just an instance of the 'fight' within.
Will post more pictures in the Rosa gallery very soon. Special thanks to Nick Gough, Oz Owen, and Graham Bradley for taking some fantastic photos. And also to Marc Chmielewski for filming the event.