may may, may may, may may not a new new

Being a participant in Tino Sehgal’s astounding installation at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall has proved more life changing than I expected. For the past three months I’ve been spending three or four days each week configuring, walking slowly then faster then running, swarming and singing in that immense space with a team of around 50 people at any one time, and then walking up to strangers there and telling them.. stories, anecdotes, ‘conceits’ in Tino’s terminology, about my life.

This isn’t the place for a detailed crit on the piece but I’ve found it profoundly affecting – good for my fitness, for reflecting on what really matters to me, and a unique opportunity to see how people receive and give stories in a setting that’s neither digital nor book related.

At one point the assembled company (there are over 200 of us in total, a fascinating range of people from dancers to anthropologists and including Tim Wright and Bob Stein from my area of work) utter a chant:

Thus thus thus thus…
we ask now,
even if the old rootedness is being lost
in this age
may not a new ground be created out of which
human’s nature and all their works can flourish
even in the technological age?”
              – Tino Sehgal / Martin Heidegger

In the epic depths of the Turbine Hall we have no gadgets to communicate through, just voices and gestures. But for me the work is all about technological possibilities, our ability to connect in non-hierarchical shapes, to gather en masse, to disperse yet remain connected.

Away from the babble of facebookery and twitterverses, I’ve realised I’m weary of the frantic updates on new tech and business plans. I like the sound of that new ground and want to start building on it.
When I do approach strangers here and begin to talk, I can shape my stories differently each time, as fully formed tale, as anecdote inviting one in return, as a problem shared in the hope of solution.  Some snub me, many more smile gratefully, and many more respond so that in the half dark I am sharing intimacies about ageing or grieving or loving or belonging.

The piece opens up wonderful possibilities for ways of doing words, ideas for live events on the continuum between traditional readings and full on theatrical performance, and led to the formation of an amazing pool of creative people, now potential collaborators, including dancers, writers, actors, academics, therapists, artists, storytellers...  who each for their own reasons were willing to take on this unusual job for the summer of 2012.   

So what now? I want to tell stories and hear stories, I want to write fiction and memoir and make things in a collaborative, public setting where I can amplify what I write when I’m ready, and where I can explore with others how we can carve out creative spaces which use the technology that suits our real needs best so we can flo flo flo flourish rish rish rish rish. 


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