The Prefab: Dancing Writing Building

Issue #03: Less Is More

It is preparatory, propositional, a sketch for an idea, or a rehearsal for a performance. What are the shared states of temporary, makeshift construction that these different disciplines could occupy, and what sort of an event could be conceived and made with the prefab in mind?

Email to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponshare on TumblrBuffer this pagePrint this pageShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn

The pre is the proposition prior to the resulting action; it is a type of state of possibility that could exist for building, dancing or writing (see Francis Ponge, ‘The Making of the Pré’, University of Missouri, 1979). It is preparatory, propositional, a sketch for an idea, or a rehearsal for a performance. What are the shared states of temporary, makeshift construction that these different disciplines could occupy, and what sort of an event could be conceived and made with the prefab in mind?

There is a relationship between the ‘pre’ and ‘un’, in that they are both ‘before’ something that is coming and/or leaving, and in those states they are both vulnerable and open to possibility, they are both situations of potential ‘making’. Un is the proposition to reverse or undo the result of an action, to bring things into their state of pure potential – to unmake/remake a building, a particular labour involving pulling and pushing, breaking and gathering. It requires a reversal of thinking through a process of unmaking, a return of materials to their essence (or/and their collapse, abandonment: cells, fibres, bits and pieces) an unravelling of a made object through time, a process of reiteration and refrain that becomes quieter until it is silence. It is based on the materiality of practice – touch and erosion – marks and imprints – surfaces as mediation between things, forces of abrasion, traces of actions, a wearing away of the fabric, stone, paper, at the point of contact, where things come together. Un wears down to the bone; it works to un/ create conditions of form by calming, by waiting, by leaving the scene, ‘by giving up the whole’ (see Sylvia Lanvin).

How might dancing, building, and writing unmake themselves, undergo a process of recovery (of the before, or the might have been, or even the un-thought about), or create another surface that coincides with those that are already seemingly present.

“Small operations or performances or acts within and upon the spaces of buildings, their crevasses and creases, and the ideas and fabulations of those spaces, like writings that may or may not be stories, that may or may not make an ordinary sense, offer elements and intimations of spells and potions to situate or embed the mist and ash of fleeting mortal dreams.” – Linda Marie Walker<

This performed lecture-event asks how research might be performed, and ideas be disseminated by thinking through performance and spatial writing. It includes a set of texts that consider the spatial atmospheres of writing as a practice that is emergent and imminent, that builds for itself a situation in which to express its own life amidst the lives of other practices. These texts are potentially ones from which other forms can arise, or movement can be detected and/or arranged. They are versions of stillness too, that like images are momentary:

“The writings, those that are, more or less, performative (in how they find their way, how they follow their intuition), that wish to be more than instrumental—not telling about a thing (situation, place, event), but being a thing amongst other things, underground and overground—are, or can be, flocks of tiny birds or bunches of exuberant flowers, shadows that darken the soil, breezes that blow through doors. And then there is all that isn’t gathered, that isn’t known or even felt, like a shudder, let alone written or read.” Linda Marie Walker

The performed lecture-event explores how performance, architecture, and writings might be unmade either through a slow process of erasure or a violent undoing, or perhaps a delicate unpicking. Rather than constructing something that continues we are absorbed in the effacement of the artwork, in becoming inconspicuous rather than renowned. This is not an easy fading away but an engagement in an active process that results in works that are uneconomical, unreasonable, and possibly unseen as art. In a sense it is a process towards freedom; and freedom needs the vigilant slow practice that sustains energies and suspends time (lines). It is a composition of unheroic actions, rather than the ‘no’ of Rainer; an un-labour of love that helps and comforts others adding pleasure to everyday life, ‘helping him or her get through the day’ (Robert Pogue Harrison).

For this event hosted by Dancehouse, certain ‘things’ will be brought forward, set to one side, discarded or elevated. It is through the act of making we come to understand what is not selected, what is left out, unmade. As Susan Stewart goes on to say ‘the end comes to dominate as all of the possible “otherwises” in the artist’s choices fall away and the work emerges as what it is, as being as well as happening – the outcome of a series of decisions that are dense with the possibilities of what was not chosen, what was not actualised’.

The ‘pre’(fab/ulations) and ‘un’(makings) are conditions in their own right, like fragments are, that can combine and separate in infinite ways and with great resilience, and until they change their constitution or disposition and become another matter or material all together (and so the process begins again).

Read More:

Lavin, Sylvia Kissing Architecture, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2011- p. 74

Harrison, Robert Pogue Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2008 – p. 94

Stewart, Susan The Poet’s Freedom, A Notebook on Making, University of Chicago Press, 2011

Walker, Linda Marie, ‘Writing, A Little Machine’ in Architectural Theory Review, 17:1, 2012, p.41; see also: ‘Restless Going-On, and Actual Dyings’, in Angelaki, Volume 11, Number 1, April, 2006