So much has changed, is changing, in so short a time.
The forward march of economic and market forces has ground to a halt. Social interaction has become reconfigured, subject to state regulation, surveillance and intervention. We are finding ways to live and love within and according to this changing landscape. Wherever we find ourselves, we are reminded of the vulnerability of our bodies, our attention drawn to the precarity of life.
Had we forgotten our mortality?
As the world suspended its frantic course and we started to gasp for air, the planet has perhaps finally begun to breathe. “Business as usual” is no longer an option, certainly not with respect to our rituals of coming together, be it for experiencing art or simply socialising. Although a time of loss, this is also an opportunity to reset and reimagine.
Will we be up to it?
Will we be worthy of it?
Will we be strong enough to see, listen, learn, act?
This issue, rather than being thematic, will unfold according to a more flexible format, taking shape over several incarnations, as a way to stay alert, mobile, ongoing and in progress. Issue #12 of the Dancehouse Diary will therefore be staged across several ‘volumes’, articulated over time and drawn together under the title, WHAT NOW?
New Topographies of the Body (A Series)
Volume #1 of our Covid issue entitled, Interior Lives, asked contributors to write a score, so as to reach out from their confined spaces and make bodily contact. As we began to receive our contributions, it became apparent to us that connecting is also a way of bringing about change regarding how we think about and feel through our bodies.
It is as if the landscape has changed or, to use Lena Hammergren’s term, as if the bodyscape has shifted. Volume #2 takes up this theme of corporeal change by posing its contributions as a series of topographic interventions, which reshape the body and its corporeal milieu.
If the Black/Blak Lives Matter movement has taught us anything, it is the realisation that ‘we’ do not experience the same context. A black body in a prison cell cannot be said to share the same milieu as a white collar criminal seeking bail. This is not just a question of criminal justice. It holds within the wider cultural landscape. So, the linkage between the body and its environment carries weight. How can we refashion the body, acknowledge and shift the differing contexts in which diverse bodies find themselves? Who will make the first move?
Luce Irigaray has a term, morphology, whose meaning has shifted from the biological to a social and cultural sense of the body and its representation. Irigaray focused on representations of female sexuality within a patriarchal setting. How might we deploy the concept of morphology to open out the representational possibilities of multiple bodies? What shape can we give these diverse bodies? What relation do they bear to the wider environment, the land, the sea, our bodily fluids? If the body becomes a question, to be enacted through practice, can we imagine the beginnings of a new practice, one which contests the normativity embedded in that which we already know and recognise?
 Lena Hammergren, “The Power of Classification”, in Worlding Dance, ed. Susan Foster. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
 Elizabeth Grosz, Sexual Subversions, Three French Feminists. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1989.