Dear Johannes,

I think a lot of the interest in the visceral experience, in the choreographed 
language of gestures and the language of stillness, almost-silence --arrive to 
me from music - Thomas Mann wrote in 1943, as he was working on Doctor Faustus, 
that at the turn of the century, when music understood itself as music, it also 
understood itself as lamentation. There is a lot of research done around the 
origins of the form of Lament in music and in poetry (such as M. Alexiou) and 
the consensus seems to be that it came from a dialogue, most likely an imagined 
conversation with the dead or with their tomb. There is something powerful in 
this consideration, if we were to agree with Mann, that music, and by 
extension, all art, is lyrical, and it mourns.

What I have been developing though is a sort of machina memoralis where 
individual loss is merged with the loss on the scale of a genocide. What I take 
from music is the rhythm, its ability to permeate matter, at least in the way 
our body receives it, and the polyphony of voices. What I also always need are 
the stains and fractures of the real lived experience. Sometimes through life 
presence and communal gesture (such as lying down and leaving marks and traces 
together with other passersby as a drawing landscape, which I then film and 
edit into a new universe), or through an archive/presence of actual objects 
related to an event and their traces that accompany the filmed, silent gestures 
and the sound evocations. 

Your question about how it all functions is not an easy one but it's not 
impossible to answer. What comes to mind is that the work always exists in the 
context of the site and the context of one's life work, even one's writing. the 
projects I did in Dresden, New York. Potsdam, Warsaw or now Santiago -- and 
many other places -- the past are inscribed in the body of the city, so this 
forms one level of context. The prolonged moment, the experience of the 
passerby (I don't like the word "viewers" or "audience" and I always insist on 
"experiencer"), offers a possibility of a dialogue, the ABA, a return and 
circularity between presences. It happened to me many times that people, even 
very young people, would come to me and say  "I came yesterday and I decided to 
come back today to see it again" and there are those who come back many times 
or stay for a very long time in the space of the project... 

To be continued...

On Oct 4, 2012, at 1:14 PM, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> which "Lamentations" are you refering to? 
> (not Martha Graham's Lamentation?) The lament of nation-building
> I'd be interested in this idea of the critique of the ritual and the 
> community self-restitution,
> and also in a review how lament becomes a gesture (in performance and 
> film/filmed performance/then in stilled photograph)
> of witnessing and what Monika describes as "witnessing and enunciation .... 
> sequenced to non-linear time....[with] compose[d] sound from testimonies, 
> recitations, laments, the environment..."
> I was interested in the staging of lament, Monika, and how it loses all aura 
> (in Benjamin's writing on something that may have been originary or original) 
> thereby, or retains some?, and how people today, 
> perhaps, are divesting themselves of having to witness ageing, decrepitude, 
> decay, catatonia, living absence, death. 
> Not sure, i know many folks, in the old village, who are care takers and who 
> are
> witnessing the disappearance of loved ones, the sliding away, in pain or 
> tranced, stilled pain (medicated), but Yoko Ishiguro, a Japanese performance 
> artist who studied at my school, recently staged
> her symbolic passing outside the library, had herself placed and buried in a 
> coffin and transmitted all that action through the network to test whether 
> the net would be a kind or tomb archive for later generations to look back to 
> Yoko's death at the foot of the library and how would the data be preserved? 
> Yoko told me she was reacting to the crass commodification of death she 
> observed, with funeral trade shows and, for example, the Japanese 
> cyber-burial companies which invite the dead to be “buried” on the website so 
> that you can visit there online.........She saw this commodification in the 
> Benjamin sense of raising questions about "work: (art) in the era of 
> technical reproducibility.
> So my question (this is before Alan and Sandy's dense textdialiogue about the 
> signifier of pain arrived, which i have not been able to translate) was still 
> to Monika to try to describe how she sees her work function, and what effect 
> is produced, and how the audience is drawn into the long circle or not. And 
> can there ever be audience in lamentation/mourning? 
> (PS.  i personally have no problems with weeds (as weeds), i love them in my 
> garden and tend to them, and they are migrants too, some weeds have travel 
> from far but i didn't know there were weeds, some one has to point out. that 
> must be the signifier. I had never thought of them in the sense of homo 
> sacer. This astonished me, Monika, that you mention Agamben,  after 
> "Nowoczesność i Zaglada".   thank you for responding to my query, and in 
> think Alan's answer is not quite responding to Bauman's critical analysis of 
> the garden society, and what the writing may also have to tell us about 
> politics of integration or assimilation of impairment, otherness.   
> respectfully
> Johannes Birringer
> Alan schreibt:
> public lament and gardening
> On Thu, 4 Oct 2012, Maria Damon wrote:
>> Is there then (I'm sort of assuming the answer is yes, but asking anyway in
>> order to make it part of the fabric of the conversation) a way in which
>> lamentation is also critique as well as community self-constitution, as in
>> Lamentations?
> Maria, I wonder what sort of critique would be possible? Lamentations
> seems to bridge the political and the obdurate. When pain becomes
> overwhelming, silence is at the core and the signifier dissolves; I think
> this is also the core of anguish. One is left speechless. On the other
> hand, how much clarity is necessary for political or 'rational' thought?
> In an odd way this also brings up mathematical thinking - which, from an
> outsider point-of-view, seems based on the manipulation of symbols, but
> from within is much more of clouded movements with indeterminate focus
> (see Jacques Hadamard). Thinking itself, in other words, may well have
> less content than its representations, and certainly its representations
> in virtual worlds, where everything, one way or another, is determinate
> and rationalized on a pixel-by-pixel level.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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