Monthly Archives: November 2011
This is officially my last post here in Bundanon. I believe I’ll still be blogging over the weekend as I have a list of blog entries on activities here that I haven’t posted up yet. But tonight was my last dinner here and this is my last entry, and when I shut down here I’ll be bringing this laptop (and all remaining personal belongings) to take the last wombat spotting trip with Helen and Doris on the way to Wisteria cottage, where we will sleep for one last time. Well, for this lab.
In the kitchen, Margie is supervising the emptying of the kitchen and Rhiannon is scrounging around the cupboards. “Too late for tea?” she asks, smiling.
Fu Kuen is moving around, asking people to “Finish the wines. Finish the nuts.” It is now a nice polite exchange between him and Margie to finish the wine: “Can lah.” “No can.” “Can not must can, lah.”
The day started out with music exercises headed by Jerome and attempting to use those exercises to create movement. I took a bunch of videos and will post them soon. It was also a day of file swapping, and sharing and just trying to get out of the cold. I’m pretty sure I will miss Bundanon. I don’t feel it yet, but hey look at the urgency to finish this blog entry.
See you all again when I get internet access.
Monday, November 21, 2011
The Lady of the Manor first manifested on Sunday, while Cat, Latai and Vicki were playing around in the Bundanon homestead. Cat had come from getting her portrait taken by Doris for her portraiture project, with her face painted in white, and it became fun to shoot against the fireplace in the Bundanon museum. Helen asked if the people from the Bundanon Trust know that they were were there, taking photos, and Cat said they did and were very amused.
Aside from there being photos of Cat in front of thr fireplace in the homestead, there were also photos of Cat in the studio, in front of the Arthur Boyd painting that was on display. Helen points out that the painted face makes it appear to be part of the painting, “but also it looks like there’s an ownership role.”
“There were no preconceived ideas, it was just my face was painted,” Cat shares during the regroup. “(The painted face) deconstructs the body, it’s a reference to Western theater and this character kind of emerged. The river experience today is the next step and hopefully something will come of that.”
The “river experience” involved some shots taken of Cat with her face paint on, but in a bikini and sarong, with a bowl of fruit in the river, and Latai as her manservant. You can refer to this page for pictures.
Helen comments that Cat is “Sort of bringing an artifice to the natural landscape,” and at some point, she transforms from the Lady of the Manor to the Island girl serving the man. Cat agrees, laughing “Yeah, the gender roles keep shifting.”
Other comments from the group were how into the character Latai was and how it helped transform the character of the Lady of the manor (and how dedicated: even when the chair in the river was falling backwards, Latai stayed true to her character and didn’t let go of the sweet potatoes she was holding. Doris also pointed out that the presence of the fruit bowl is like a classic still life, still tying the idea of the Lady of the Manor to painting. In some some of the shots, though it also looks like she’s also wearing too much sunscreen.
Cat says she’s still playing with the idea of the exoticized image and the flatness of it. She’ll see where it goes.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Aside from the Bower Bird discovery, another incident that impressed the Bundanon dance lab participants during the Tuesday afternoon walk was the herd of cattle that didn’t seem keen on allowing us to cross the paddock and when the bull, in all its majesty, looked straight at us suspiciously, and some of us started to panic quite audibly, Leigh Warren put his arms up in front of his head and said, “Quick, make like a rhinoceros!!” This obviously did not deter the cows and bull, nor did it make them want to charge, but it did disperse the nature nerves as we cracked up in laughter.
In honor of Leigh, Vicki rounded up the Bundanon educational exchange program schoolkids and got them to do some site specific movement with her. She brought them to a nice wooded area beside the bower bird nests (both real and Latai’s) and asked them to stand behind a tree, like hiding. At her signal, the kids should start jumping up and down (like some of our favorite animals in the paddock – not the cows) but from behind the tree. Then, when they got tired, or just felt like it, to “Make like a rhinoceros.” She asked one boy to wear the yellow gloves from her kitchen.
The kids, all visual arts students, were all quite game, but most likely not aware that they just did a “Leigh Warren choreography right there,” as Cat put it. And despite herself, Vicki finally got to orchestrate a collaboration of her initiative.
This is a song I wrote about Bundanon and it was inspired by the activities and experiments we explored here in the past week or so. Some of the things we got up were extremely of their moment (LOL) and to explain them too much I think would b unkind to the bubble-like magic that buoyed us along. This was recorded in one of the artist’s studio spaces. Enjoy!
Bundanon Song (Connection)
Footsteps whisper along the trail
Fingers pulling on threads of red
Dance across the green
To the river to fall
Tiny symbols on the ground
Turn to face the lens
Of so many eyes
Looking for a sign
When we are gone from Bundanon
With some kind of phenomenon
Tracing our practices
In intersecting lines
Bodies melting into the ice
Build a bower from the colour of
Blue summer skies
Crystalising in a memory
Brace yourself against the architecture
Of the land
Put a white face on
And stare down your history
Here come the traffic
Here come the bull
Here come the plastic
Sense of what’s true
Here come the questions
Written in sand
Here come the drumming
Fingers of a man
Here come the wombat
Here come the poo
And light from a projector
Turning into you
And here come a song
Walking with torches to the sound
Of a language we don’t understand
Now that we’re bound
Across space and time
And spirit lines
Someday we’ll dream of Bundanon
Of Arthur and Yvonne
Painting the landscape
Sunday, November 20, 2011
On the first Tuesday that we were here, after much discussion in the studio, everyone was excited to take a walk around Bundanon and make our way to the river. We went up the amphitheatre and down again, and crossed a few paddocks before deciding to leave the river to be found another day.
A few meters down from amphitheatre, we found a bower bird’s bower, and most of us were quite flabbergasted to see it because we had never actually seen a bower bird’s bower before. It was just as I read in those nature books in our grade school library – the circular reshaping of the grass, the soft bed in the center, the scattering of blue objects in the center. In this bower, there were a couple of blue feathers, some blue paper and a bottle top.
Latai had been bringing around a blue tarpaulin, basically playing around with it, creating images with the imposed object in the space. When she saw the bower bird, she decided to create her own bower with her tarp, hoping to make the bower bird envious.
On Sunday morning, Latai set up her bower beside the bower bird’s nest and included a lot of “found objects” around the house – including a chair Simon found by the river, a couple of mugs, a tea towel and a canister from the kitchen, Doris’ bathing suit and Alfira’s bikini top, which, when reported missing, Vicki responded with a straight face, “Your swimmers are missing? Since when?” Leigh also sacrificed his Prostate Cancer Awareness bangle to the bower bird, and the next day, they found that the bower bird had taken that and placed it in his own bower, as well as a washing peg and bits of paper, in effect fulfilling Latai’s intention to make the bower bird jealous. That Sunday before he left for Adelaide, they recorded Leigh doing a David Attenborough commentary on this special breed of bower bird.
Latai took the bower down on Monday, after showing it to the students engaged in the Bundanon education program, who were scheduled to visit on Monday at 1pm. They kept bits of blue paper and disposable objects in case the bower bird would like them. When Helen checked on the bower bird the next day, she was happy to report that the bower bird had indeed taken all the othe objects from the bower and placed into his own.
While a lot of the experiments have been visually driven, there is some movement happening here at the Bundanon Dance Lab. On Friday afternoon, Leigh got all the participants to pair up for a movement exercise. The idea was for each person to come up with a movement gesture or phrase and “gift” it to their partner, who then receives the movement into their body, sort of doing it over and over until they’ve completely “accepted” the “gift.” And then, once part of their body vocabulary, to transform it into something that appeal to them.
Doris, Fu Kuen and Jerome gamely joined this exercise (while I, the dancer among the facilitators, did not), and partnered up with Ly Ly, Simon and Vicki respectively. Doris and Ly Ly didn’t quite understand the exercise and were passing imaginary objects to each other, on the subject of “gifting.” It was like watching them play catch with unknown energies and it was actually really fun to watch, though Leigh had to reinform them of what the exercise was really about. Doubtful though if the others did get the real purpose of the exercise as both Fu Kuen and Simon, and Vicki and Jerome were mirroring each other and not really “gifting.” Cat and Rhiannon also seemed to be finding some sort of movement, though it was not clear where the movement began and where it became reprocessing. Fortunately, this was addressed with better explanation from Leigh the next day.
Interesting movement exchange did happen on Friday, with Latai and Fitri, to the point where Latai had danced away from Ly Ly, in her pursuit of reprocessing Fitri’s movement into her own body and coming up with something new.
On Saturday morning, Leigh gave a nice warm up that mobilized several points of the body, making sure that the body was ready for movement for that day, and asked the group to pair up with somebody new. Before I could disappear, Vicki was beside me like a kangaroo. At the end of the exchange, Leigh asked each pair to present what they came up with.
Leigh and Ly Ly started the presentation, with Leigh showing us the movement Ly Ly gifted him and then the movement it turned into. You could see the difference of styles with the juxtaposition of original movement with transformed movement, and how each were very Leigh and very Ly Ly.
Vicki and I went next. I gave a simple weaving of the arms around my crown, my eyes, my chest and waist, to which Vicki applied her whole body, incorporating rhythms and jumps. She taught me an interesting opposition exercise which was meant for Fitri, and I slowed down and speeded up the movements, and gave it different directions, though I think the original was eons better. Alfira was supposed to join us, but time had run out for us to receive her movement phrase.
Cat and Latai performed their transformed movements together, and they seemed to be doing the same movement, but with different qualities: Latai’s was softer, with an almost melting into herself effect, while Cat’s was strong and aggressive. The contrast was quite awesome.
Rhiannon and Jerome did a mirroring exercise with their hands, and it was interesting how each “understood” the movement that they shared.
Fitri and Simon were “Two turtles who fall in love.” They stood far away from each other at opposite sides of the room and slowly made their way to the floor and crawled towards each other, waiting for “What’s next?” before Fitri gave a loud laugh and scramble to standing position, signaling the end of the exercise.
The next day, after Leigh warmed us up for the last time, new pairings were formed and performed. Simon and Latai were this time gecko and turtle, respectively – Latai has been gifting the same movement to all her movement partners to see how they receive them. It is based on a gecko, which Latai has adopted as her symbol (or as far as how I understand it) with a head accent that is traditionally an improvisational gesture in Tongan dance. In return, Simon taught Latai the turtle movement and they looked sweetly like two animals making their way to dry land, and away from the rising sea levels.
Rhiannon and Ly Ly exploded in their own spaces, sharing very volatile bursts of movement with each other. Jerome and Cat played around with similar movements that grew away from each other then pulled together when you least expected it.
Fitri and Vicki both shared very similar movements as well and made a little skit of walking “same” (same arm same leg moving together) and “different” (arms and legs in opposition). Vicki had a running commentary all the while she and Fitri moved through the space with their different strides.
This piqued everyone’s interest so much that all started to move same and different strides, and would even attempt it randomly for the rest of the day.