Ever since I was taught about Neurological levels by the marvellous Rivca Rubin back in 2001, I have found them to be a really useful teaching tool when looking at what is happening when we attempt to make changes in our lives. They are a model that demonstrates the different levels at which we human beings operate and the interconnectedness between them. Changing one might affect many of the others, for example if I learn a new skill, it may affect my capabilities which in turn may affect my belief about myself. Conversely if we focus too much on one level and ignore the others we may not be able to solve a problem. For example, in a work situation, there may be a problem with people not focussing in staff meetings, I might focus on the capability level and learn new skills to facilitate the meetings better, but this might do no good as I have ignored the environment level, meetings take place in a windowless basement.
I have been looking at how this might help me in the development of Not a Séance. If I believe in the power of vegetables, how does this affect me at the other levels particularly behaviour and identity?
On Monday we had a seminar with Conall Gleeson that was inspirational on many levels as it asked us to link theory and practice in exciting and challenging ways. I would like to tell you about the seminar and then reflect on how some of the ideas are beginning to feed into developing my performance piece, Not a Séance particularly by using crisps.
Conall played us The Overture from Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. The Ballet had prompted riots when it was premiered in Paris in 1913 and the central theme is of the sacrifice of a young woman to benefit the community. He then asked us to consider an event from the same year in England when Emily Wilding Davison through herself in front of the King’s horse at The Epsom Derby. This was her final act as a suffragette having previously been imprisoned and force fed, she sacrificed her life. We discussed these two very different examples of sacrifice of the female body and then went on to do a close reading of The Vanishing Bodies of Fundamentalism, a chapter from Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s Commonwealth.
This chapter describes how fundamentalism with its focus on restricting what the body can do and what can be seen ,simultaneously negates the body and gives it transcendental value. They say “fundamentalisms make bodies vanish insofar as they are revealed to be not really the objects of obsessive attention but merely signs of transcendant forms or essences that stand above them”
We then discussed bio-politics and the idea that perhaps performance art is one of the only places where the body can just be a body. This reminds me of George Bataille’s “The End of Metaphor”. Connall asked us to link the ideas we had been discussing to our own work and we were encouraged to create a piece of performance.
My thoughts immediately lept to potatoes and what they might represent and stand for in my piece as well as the idea of fundamentalism being an extreme set of beliefs. There were no potatoes in the cafeteria so I bought two packets of crisps. How does a crisp relate to the body of the potato?
I have been slow to start this blog and my progress up to date on my MA in Performance and Visual Practices MA is listed on this site. I will be using this blog to document my progress in creating Not a Séance which will be performed at my MA Assessment at The Marlborough Theatre in September. I am hoping to perform it in a variety of locations over the summer with a variety of groups including The Men’s Room among others.
As my performance focusses at least in part on vegetables I thought I would share my gleeful discovery of The Vegetable Orchestra.