The dominant capitalist narrative tells us that time equals money. If our culture believes that time is a quantifiable resource that can hold monetary value then it is possible that we also have a cultural tendency to equate our own sense of social worth (lovability) with the time we spend laboring for profit and therefore the amount of money that we have. If this is true, our individual sense of self worth can be considered a product of the ratio of time spent over money earned. Time, as a social construct, is a resource which can be exploited for capital gain. Time is therefore a desirable commodity which can be exchanged for social value or “love”.
What is the value system that we reference when we judge our self worth? In pursuing this research I decided that taking the time to meet with my friends every Sunday for two hours to talk about the meaning of love was a radical act of performance which resisted the commodification of our bodies by commercial forces. Part of this process has been an attempt of finding our own definitions of the word “love” amidst the cacophony of external messages which infiltrate our daily lived experience.
The concept of this work is looking at cultural perceptions of the word “love” in it’s various manifestations in the ways that it affects our choices about the way we live, act and construct belief systems around value. The idea of personal verses dominant social narrative is used in the piece by referring to love songs written by the ensemble members that are the source of the choreographic material. These stories are interrupted by a commercialized push to commodify time and the body as raw material for profitable gain.
The year long process of this work has been an experiment in integrating somatic and performance practice in order to generate a repertory of experiences into which we can invite an audience. The somatic aspects have included bodywork, sensory deprivation, visualization and other body based techniques. Performance practices have included Grotowski movement theater techniques, viewpoints-based training, authentic movement exercises as well as various other forms of dance which I have collected from contemporary performance trainings. I am learning about being simultaneously a choreographer, writer, somatic facilitator and organizer. It has been a challenge which has brought me repeated back to questions of surrender, control, leadership and the creative process.
One of our base sets of material comes from an assignment stemming from Growtowski plastique work. The assignment that I gave the ensemble was to generate one “profitable movement” or movement that makes you money, and one “habitual love” movement, or gesture which a person finds themselves performing habitually within intimate or romantic settings. In juxtaposing these two categories of movement and putting them on “conveyer belts” of repetition, questions arise about the possibility of authenticity and presence within an industrialized context. There is a tension between prescribed social gesture and spontaneous “real” moments. The aim of this inquiry is to experience polarities of habit and spontaneity, power and vulnerability, physical material and imagination in the ways that they are expressed in the body. In generating a diversity of physical definitions of the word “love”, hopefully we can find resistance against the commodification of our bodies and energy by external power systems that would govern our behavior.
I am making this piece because I think that it is important for people to know what their motivations are behind the things that they are doing. I especially think that we are to talk about love as our highest value, that it is important to do the work of questioning what that world really means within the context that we exist. Who determines what we do for “love”? This project has been a laboratory to discover different things that love can be. I hope that the performance will serve as a petri dish in which to see various examples of the things that love can be in real time.