Hyperlocal #18 WITNESS

For our eighteenth performance, we will be thinking through ideas and manifestations of being a witness. Since an intrinsic component of Hyperlocal is collaboration, the performers have wired themselves for observation and response. After seeing Chip Duncan and Mohamed Amin’s exhibition, Inspiring Change at the Charles Allis Art Museum, I wondered how much of seeing and documenting is legible in our performances. Being a witness is not passive role – it is an act of agency to be present, to hold space, to give others space, and thus through our embodied act of showing up, we create an energy around others that need it or deserve it or want it. What does it mean to document with our bodies, with our practice? And who is allowed or privileged to be a witness – to have their testimony allowed, heard, and believed? How can we, as citizen artists, create a space for our practice to be a testimony to the lives and truths that are important to us? And how can art direct attention to that which needs to be experienced?   As a dancer, much of the time what I am doing/dancing and feeling/thinking may not be legible or even valuable to spectators. But I do it anyway, believing that bodies commit to truths daily, constructing the world we want to live in – with our bodies. We get better at what we practice. So WITNESS is about seeing and listening and helping spectators experience listening and seeing as acts of witnessing…meaning what you do, attend to, respond to gains power. Duncan and Amin’s portraits are powerful and beautiful. They are evidence in and of themselves but they must be seen to be known. So be sure to see the work – and if you can see it alongside of music and dance…. double bonus.  Inspiring Change – The Photography of Chip Duncan and Mohamed Amin  runs through October 21. We perform alongside and attend to their work on Sunday 9.30.18. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Merleau-Ponty… “To carry out an act is to catch its significance”. Being a witness, creating space for something valuable, listening deeply, and attending to are powerful acts.  If attention is a form of generosity, then we can all do a bit more attending closely to find beauty, compassion, and shared experiences in the most unlikely of places. Look closely. Listen deeply.

Composers: David Collins, Devin Drobka, Pat Reinholz, Allen Russell, Andy Miller, and Olivia Valenza
Choreographers: Maria Gillespie Joelle Worm Maggie Seer Alfonso Cervera, Tisiphani Mayfield, Annie Peterson, Katelyn Altmann, Amanda Laabs

Blog Entries from Hyperlocal Performers:

From Alfonso Cervera: To witness is to penetrate the idea of vulnerability and for it to expose the ephemerality of materials, objects, and desires of the internal and external. To witness the agency of the still objects that surround our borders through the practicing of our dancing bodies creates an unconscious conversation between the known and unknown. Becoming aware that the life of the still frame still exists/has existed/or desires to be noticed by you, me, or the other is a practice to witness an unknown dialogue.

An attempt to dismantle the structures of high-art and to deconstruct the goal of the practice already places our responsibility between minority and dancing bodies in a space that acknowledges to create the task of witnessing without being an act of colonization, but rather an acknowledgment knowing that….. “the others matter and (we) are here to support and act of change to grant space and power for those who do not have it”.  -Fonzy

From Annie Peterson:  To witness, one must be selfless. To witness is to listen, and to be okay with only listening. There is no greater agenda other than providing space, and reinforcing the space, that someone exists within. It is the act of recognizing and fortifying another person’s existence. If the witnessed needs you, you will know without being told and you will also know what to do without comprehension. This altruistic state yields personal transformation that then expands outwardly, beginning with recognizing and responding to something bigger than yourself.