Parallels
Cell Project Space, London
Parallels marks the launch of Cellular, an experimental Live Art and Media-based programme at Cell Project Space.
Live online June / July 2020



Parallels are variations of a body of work, generous movements inter-linked by actions alluding to something more; a development. The shown archive is a reference but also a new stage constructed in and out of a changing situation. Methods vary and develop. Where before we were just two, now we are three. Motherhood is a change of circumstance, a welcome noise that accompanies any future dialogue; the not-so-silent partner. This pre-staging of work is the work, a current condition as well as a reference to the past.

Our friendship was born out of a need for a body to complete a body of work; a sought favour, but fast and fervently we became something personal, a perpetual wave of gestures unfurling. Collaboration is communication, a mercurial inconsistency, but even through wavering and oscillation, a rowing movement gradually speeds up and gains momentum.

Movements result from a collaborative process representative of the present personal parallels. The work itself is the relationship shown. What starts as two bodies springs another, because no work made with another is autonomous of the other. Silent partners who are entirely elemental to the process are often just borrowed voices, bodies and makers or others instead of collaborators, co-workers or engaged in collectives. This archive of referential re-works accentuate the resulting body which is the collaborative body, a voice interdependent on both roles. The artist and the dancer are static titles turned into metronomic movements which swing so fast and hard with gestures, turning these titles into tropes. 

Working through a moment of change, Parallels stages a series of interdependent movements, sounds and text that are part choreographed, part improvised.

Drawing on the philosophies of the X6 Collective, and addressing the ongoing urgency to place dance within its social context,
Parallels exposes properties of the personal, subjective and circumstantial;
methods that change with motherhood; and the process of making work as a matter of work.

Parallels' responsive and continually developing form not only adapts to the conditions of its environment, but importantly also to the language of an-other,
as Berger describes: “We encounter from afar someone whom we now relate to in a circumference.
The margins of distance which we keep from others have grown, and so gesticulation becomes broader as our small and simple gestures lose weight in conversation.”

Originally conceived as a public event to take place in conjunction with the exhibition X6 Dance Space (1976-80): Liberation Notes –
Parallels is restaged as a video work, performed and filmed at Cell Project Space in isolation and without an audience.
I wrote this text to our audience and as a comment on the wider situation which called for caution and care of others as a response to the cancellation.

There is no way to poeticise this situation, this is not an attempt to. People are suffering and it is
manifesting itself in innumerable, implacable forms. There is a direct urgency; the acute active
being in this moment which paradoxically makes us stand still. And in this stand-still our
movements are different and other. We know where we go because we go nowhere.


A patchy interference.
The it that is when the other is not.
The occasional intermezzo.


We encounter from afar someone whom we now relate to in a circumference. The margin of
distance which we keep from others have grown, and so gesticulation becomes broader as our
small and simple gestures lose weight in conversation.
But this is not an analysis of movement, it is a reorientation of being. Being alone, being with
others and behaving so as to be for others allowing them to remain.
Art is a fickle matter in my mind in this being. This is nothing new but perhaps it is heightened
here, in the now. I have struggled to know the urgency of art as a need, as an essential for a
while. Not the art already made, not my art, in particular, but all art being made en masse, in
abundance, everywhere, now.


I feel it sometimes as a matter; suffocating, even in the best of circumstances and now just as
much, in the worst. I take escape in it whilst simultaneously finding it circumstantially futile. But
then the growing abundance has made the last years a steady incline of an attitude of satiation.
A wave is just now curling into an arched form only to break hard and soft into an activity of
exponential frequency.
The swell, as well is a swelling volume that expands the room and at the same time, reduces it
to nothing.

In the past I have oscillated between the urgency and the indifference. But now I have become
untethered to the anchor that always held me from exiting the realm of reverence for the art.
There is a differentiation to be made here. No matter how difficult and contested the case might
be to make, there must be a caveat to this emotional state of exhaustion. This is the personal, in
which things are felt that risk being misunderstood, not understood, rejected or rejoiced. I am
not looking to offend or assemble.
There is too much of everything and I am too tired of all of it (tired is a poor adjective but I don’t
know how else to describe it, except to say it brings upon a kind of dull tiredness, an apathy) to
discover the new. Tired from exposing others to my art, tired from exposure to others art.
Because it has become so much and because it is everywhere and houses everything it has
also become reduced to barely anything. This opinion probably fluctuates and were I held
accountable to it as a definite I would surely eat my words and perhaps my works at a later
point. But I leave it in here with the proviso to opt out eventually.
This is not to say that my output is more valuable than any other.

I am a new mother.

This has to be said. Because the new and seeming infinite zest for motherhood is a removal
from everything. Because it opens up a space for being in a room so vast for me and so
cramped for others that it is a kind of tardis of self. Your outlook changes.
This is not to say that my circumstances make me more purposeful than any other.
The projection of the image of the self onto the self, is itself an image. Of all that, which is on
show, it is that which is not on show, through its absence, that which it is. Even a wide and
voluminous form it is a flat surface. A representative deliberative body.
Methods vary and develop. Motherhood is a change of circumstance, a welcome noise that
accompanies any future dialogue; the not-so-silent partner.
But these were circumstances that existed before and during the making of this work and exists
as a chimera merging with the circumstances of now, in the context of the crisis.
The work that was to be on show were movements which resulted from a collaborative process
representative of personal parallels. A relationship shown. The decision to not show the work
was a result of responsibilities to not gather bodies in a space where closeness resulted in risk
of repercussion. So the work which was intensely personal in its delivery recoiled in the impact
of the reconsideration into an echo of sorts of its original idea.

Within the disparity of moving from physical to digital we lost a lot of voices which could have
been heard. The impact of seeing the personal, in person and the implications of the eventual
impatience with something slow and gradual released into a cascade of information could be
speculated on. And in the many-worlds that may have materialised as a result of us following
through with the work in physical form, there may be repercussions echoing ad infinitum.
But here we are, in the one in which we are in, in which the decision was made to stop
something going ahead, something which had been gaining momentum for months, at a time
when it was an individual responsibility rather than a reprimandable one, to stop and make a
choice.

And there is something to be said about the loss of opportunity, the loss of labour and the luxury
of loss without devastation as consequence. But this is something I leave to others, much more
able-bodied and acute voices on the topic of loss since I live in abundance and feel entirely
aware of the luxury in which I watch my daughter develop without lacking or needing without
receiving.

But personally I don’t know how to react. I have, at times the aching sense of guilt of my
position, I have a roof and a floor with ample space in between and food and family and the
generosity of others and the belonging to a welfare system which offers me support.
I have, at times, a present frustration of being elsewhere when I miss simple pleasures of home,
a domesticity which nests nuggets of longing. And leaving many many far more complex
emotions aside, ones that arise when being safe in a state of crisis where so many suffer.
Where analysis of my own empathy and action and reaction is occurring from a metaphorical
armchair of comfort, a place of privilege in which I can consider my relation to art in its relation
to calamity.

It is a time of paradoxes. Where every element of home-life is shared as a kind of support
structure onto which the system of care leans. And in this structure I am not sure that the joinery
of life and of art production is a chimera I can stroke the hairs of. (Please see above caveat)
Because I am not certain of anything at this time, I am no expert even of my own attitudes.
And so the very blunt resulting thought is not a result at all, just a way to end these typed out
thoughts is to say that I don’t know how I feel about this video and this work in the context of
which it is released. Perhaps there are some symmetries in possible worlds, both in the one
which we choose to show the work and in the one in which we don’t, because I was uncertain
before and I am uncertain now, on different grounds but rooted in the same systemic
ambivalence.

This was not the preferred medium of the reception of this work, but this work exists entirely on
the basis of the state of our current existence. And so there would be no video without the virus
and this text would have been superfluous without the video. It exists in a bind in which what is
said is a comment on the commentary of current situations, a quagmire of a gesture. A trope in
itself of what I am not sure I am digesting with ease in this new life; art.

Sanna Helena Berger
U.K, 1 may 2020