Day 21

A text by Philipp Gehmacher about The Slowest Urgency

Overview digital gestures

Under the weather

It was all supposed to have happened by now. Whilst the prospect of making new work creates excitement within me, I also worry about how it will turn out. Then I try not to think too much of the day of the first performance as a moment of relief, more as the moment of going public with whatever we find in our hands. And yet that day is always both a lingering concern as well as a calming anchor. By then the work will have taken place in whatever form, to whatever outcome. A day that merges both what is in and out of our hands.

WithThe Slowest Urgency I chose a grand title, both a promise and a challenge, a claim to live up to. I felt ready. I wanted to ‘speak’ about those sensations of urgency growing slowly inside of my body, forever returning sensations, a desire for change, inklings, in your head, in your gut, on your tongue. Urgency, like a twin body not leaving your side, which never lets you off the hook. I wanted to speak about being affected.

Yes, I use the term ‘speak’ because, in the end, it is all about utterances: physical, verbal, languages of the body. I wanted to speak about being under the weather and not knowing whether a sensation is inside or around me, an environment slowly eating itself into the body. I wanted to speak about the weather as much as the landscape, inside and out, right here and over there. I wanted us to create our own weather, as Ocean Vuong puts it, and let our bodies rest on the land.

I wanted to share my body of another time and maybe another country. My so-called movement language, an archive of arms reaching, of handsgrasping while the chest fills with oxygen, only to find itself depleted. I was curious whether this body would still do in my landscape of 2020. I wanted other bodies on stage to tell me what I had missed and therefore overlooked. To grow together, to settle and resettle, a few steps further on a map too vast to oversee.

I wanted to speak about the big things, the worlds we inhabit as individuals and as communities, about sensations of time within us as much as the times we live in, presumptuous but necessary. The desire to make sense of it all just never leaves my body. I also wanted to speak about the things nearby, the personal, putting the personal into the bigger picture whilst creating a landscape together.

I had imagined the stage as a plain, the long-gone vertical backdrop merging with the floor, people and bodies upright but then unfolding, spreading out in front of your eyes. Ideas that feel so contrary to the verticality of the proscenium stage I had chosen for us to perform in.Raumbühne [auditorium stage] und Guckkasten [proscenium stage] superimposed. Bodies going into pieces whilst our words of utterance always attempt direction. We had actually planned to set up a small stage within the auditorium. So we could be among you as much as in front of you.

I had made the plan to speak about that slowest urgency that always asks you to make choices. And how tiresome and difficult that can be. Where to put the marks, draw the line, creating new places for yourself and others. But from here on, I will only look to the future and greet what is to come. In this future I will still be excited and slightly afraid whilst the slowest urgency will never have left myside. And 2021? Nowhere to be seen. Not just yet.

Philipp Gehmacher, June 2020

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