SWAN: "Coniunctio" (part one)
“Why SWAN?” I am asked. When a certain kind of image comes to the artist, she responds. The image impresses upon a receptive intellect the way intuition does: unbidden and on its own accord. Devoid of clever witticisms or conceptualizations, the image beckons attention for different reasons altogether. Archetypal in nature, SWAN offers a portal; embracing the call, the artist brings to light what resonates for this time. Why SWAN? For all of the known and unknown reasons the image itself evokes: qualities and ways of being in the world that desire remembrance.
Over the years, I have identified and attended to a central thought in my work: the empathic response through aesthetic experience. “What,” I have asked myself over and again, “is translating across the chasms, across cultures, across time?” I think is has something to do with particular attentiveness to the danced moment, a perception that life is being lived in this unique manner, that dancing is a way of being. And the dance, a form combining those elements that by chance and by mastery engenders a shattering that renders the aesthetic and empathic moment at once. Being becomes transparent.
In my teaching, writing, lectures, doctoral research, labwork, and performances, the problem of empathy—an inquiry addressed by 20th century German scholar Edith Stein—has therefore come to particularize my aesthetic purview. Since childhood, I have been fraught with the struggle to articulate, accurately, the palpable experience of bodily-felt empathy. Looking out at the peopled world through these eyes, I have taken note of feeling a kind of sadness—for the people, and my own: mine for not wanting especially to be in the world, and the people, perhaps for being in the world too much.
The breadth of my work, crystallized through a meditation on a poetics of the body—the felt inferiority of, relationships to, attitudes about, perceptions regarding, feelings for, and the poetic (empathic) possibilities therein—informs this evening’s dance. Performance is communal in the ancient sense of the term; thus my desire is that you exit this portal with an experience that sheds light on something having to do with you—thoughts that this work is an occasion for— perhaps insights into your own bodily being, and by extension, a re-awakened and particularized recognition of the shared and fragile content of all bodies that make up this world.