Landing Sites Specific – a residency in contemporary choreography at Art-Villa Garikula, The Georgia
24th April – 5th May 2014
In collaboration with Art-Villa Garikula the workshop Landing Sites Specific is led by Amanda Steggell, professor in choreography at the Department of Dance, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, with Master students in choreography Anne Kathrine Fallmyr, Solveig Styve Holte and Heidi Jessen, and students from the Art Academy, Tbilisi.
Research should no longer be done off to one side, in a school, a library or laboratory. Where one lives needs to become a laboratory for researching, for mapping directly, the living body itself, oneself as a world-forming inhabitant.
– Arakawa + Gins
How can we approach the situation of being artists-in-residence working with issues of site specificity in the field of contemporary choreography today? This is the question we seek to answer at Art-Villa Garikula, and one we have sought to answer in a suburb of Tokyo earlier this year. As you may imagine these sites are worlds apart from each other and our own home town, Oslo, Norway.
The ‘site’ we co-habited in Tokyo is namely the Reversible Destiny Lofts, MITAKA. The lofts are both an artwork and an apartment building; a creation of the artist /architect duo Arakawa + Gins and an iteration of their esoteric theory of Architectural Body from which the term Landing Sites comes from. They are dedicated to the memory of Helen Keller, the American activist and author who learnt how to communicate after losing her sight and hearing as a child – hence seemingly reversing her destiny by confronting and articulating her embodied experiences of her situation or ‘surround’. The lofts are designed to challenge one’s physical abilities and perceptions in every day life; to stimulate the body and its immune system, challenge notions of communal living and to encourage the body to ‘decide not to die’! (See http://choreography.khio.no/?p=48 for more).
Now we have landed at Art villa Garikula, deep in the Georgian countryside in the little village of Akhalkalaki, in the Kaspi region far way from the city and its suburbs. It is a stark contrast to our Tokyo experience with its meticulously designed architecture, and our own home town, Oslo. We encounter a community; a building and a garden that is in a constant state of reconstruction in accordance with its surround; a village, an agricultural landscape of vast reaching hillsides and a fast flowing river. We encounter a socially-orientated art project that has decided to live. Perhaps we can call it an organic or ecological process that poses a utopian alternative to the political situation with which it co-exists.
What can a body find out about such a place in the short period of our residency?
What is worth doing, from the perspective of contemporary choreography within this time frame?
Can we contribute to this unique community (even if just modestly) by our presence?
How are we changed by the experience?
Via quick and dirty exercises in choreography we address these questions with a sense of curiosity. On the one hand via an attention/awareness to the situation. On the other, an incentive to engage with the community that sustains and is supported by the Garikula project.