FULL DROP into the Body is a practice where de-conditioning meets artistic research and a choreographic vision
Working with and sharing a practice of de-conditioning is a conscious political gesture.
The meditative deep tissue release FULL DROP into the Body practice was developed whilst creating a body of artistic works that focus on exploring pathologies of the social-political body within our own bodies and how that reality expresses itself. The practice brings together the physiological and psychological states of the body, exploring subconscious and energetic realities of embodied life. The research into this type of embodiment catapulted a process of mapping out a new category of performative body language, ways of developing it and transferring the knowledge both practically and theoretically to the wider international dance scene and academia.
The performance works engage in the ongoing discussion of healing, feminism, interconnectedness, notions of energetic citizenship, and the pathology of the social political body within the choreographic context. Displaying the politics of intimacy has been a core theme within the work and the aim is to create an environment where both performer and onlooker are able to question their inner and outer realities through it. The works made over the last 12 years function as safer spaces for collective exploration of the maze of connections and dead ends that constitute the interface of the pathological body with our achievement-oriented society. This fact reinforces the theme in the practice of allowing the performer and viewer access to states that are usually extremely private or even unconscious, thereby opening up the way for a profound experience that is disarmingly radical in its manifestation and politics. The dancers surrender to and are moved by inner forces, both political and energetic in nature, both ancient and current, and of a magnitude and power far greater than all of us. Forming a corporeal language that serves as a doorway into the subconscious. This language is marked by an infinite presence and energetic transference that reveals and provokes in the same moment. It breaches the divide between performer and audience in a meeting that is high in its intensity. Together surrendering to an alternative Hyperreality while exploring and confronting the inner and outer landscape of the de-bordered body.
Categories of the introspective body researched and worked with during the period 2010-2017
The Alienated and Isolated body (2010-2013)
The three year period of the private research of Guðjónsdóttir dedicated to finding tools towards de-conditioning internalized patterns of formally imprinted body memory related to the professional and socialized body and traditional dancers training. Led to the developement of a meditative de-conditioning practice FULL DROP into the body and an onstage practice for the commissioned performance Step Right To It (2013). The aim of that performance was working with the physicality and the cultural phenomena of the alienated, apathetic, manipulated, isolated body and reflecting on the reality of this often unconscious states. Created by the overpowering digital culture which the millennials performing in the performance were born into. The physicality explored was based on a deep tissue release, which emphasized utter surrendering to gravity in order to be able to quiet the mind and body of its habitual activity enough to able an awareness of the biorhythm of the cerebral spine fluid. An autonomous inner rhythm as stable the heartbeat. In that way physically stepping away from referential movements and muscular work as a movement source. Once the capacity to release into the act of non doing and entering into an intensive inner listening where the inner movement of the spine and the sensorial biomechanics linear movement becomes the motor that moves you without out any other distraction. An impression of an unconscious and non responsive state of being is transferred to the outside and a notion of the dancers being taken over and moved by something larger and more powerful then their will. Their performativity is non conforming to the context of theater. Through the inner listening practice the dancers radiate a strong magnetic presence since they are resonating with each passing felt moment and through that energetically braking the 4rth wall of the theater set up. The sensation of pleasure felt by the dancers entering performing from within a state of inner listening is an parallel reality to the disconnectedness, lack of autonomy, and numbness they represent to the viewer.
The Broken, Exhausted and Empty body (2014-2015)
The Blind Spotting Performance Series was created during the period 2014 and 2015 and consisted of in total 4 works. As well as playing with an expanded and deduced format of the same work. This series of four works that revolve around the topic of the broken burned out body was launched in order to create working conditions which made it possible for the people involved to dedicate longer periods of time to work in-depth to develop the practice necessary to convey this specific theme. On stage condensing it to the vulnerability of the anti-hero, a paradigmatic type of our performance-oriented Neo liberal society. A representation of a taboo, the body of this anti-hero stands for all that remains of it after exploitation, exhaustion, psychological implosion and overstimulation. Exploring this physically and choreographically enabled particular presence and bodies to be on stage, from which the consequences of increasing isolation, victimization and commodification within society could be pondered on and met. These burned out states became the central figure of exploration through the expanding practice. Letting the body release and surrender to gravity without resistance, this body continued its emptying and disintegration to extreme states of utter physical incapacity to move. The work of the dancers was to enter into particular physical states of various levels of being undone and surrendered. From there negating execution of predetermined actions. Living the friction being between decisions of the will and the fully lived physical states of incapacity. Connecting to an alternative way of moving, performing and dancing. These body states are celebrated as visceral denials of the externally and internally imposed imperatives to achieve, and draw a contrast with the logic of hyperactivity by presenting an alternative kind of energy and strength. A body that opposes influences that are unhealthy to it exerts a subversive power over its environment. It transfers itself, as a kind of physical-energetic contagion, onto the bodies of the audience. From a starting point of letting the body fall and surrender, this body continues its emptying and disintegration to an extreme state during the course of the performances. This disintegration of the bodies of the performers is taken into the inner reality of the audience through the steady, slow, and hypnotic transformation taking place in front of their eyes. The result is a cohort of radically de-bordered bodies that portray the shared reality of the anonymous multitude.
From a choreographic perspective the focus was on the introspective body transferring itself vibrationally onto and into the bodies of the audience, creating resonance and shared lived states. The research questions were; In which way on a energetic level do inner systems of the body communicate directly to other bodies in the space and how can that be made visible, worked with consciously and emphasized within the context of a performance event.
The following works belong to this series of works: Blind Spotting (2014) a performance for 8 dancers. SPOTTED (2014) a duet version of the larger 8 dancers performance. In the Blind Spot (2015) a solo performance version of the larger 8 dancers performance, commissioned and produced by Angela Schubot and coproduced by Guðjónsdóttir. Blind Spotting – Film version (2014), an artistic documentation of the 8 dancers Blind Spotting performance.
The Subjective Private Emotional Pathological body (2015-17)
Within the FULL DROP into the Body practice a new cycle of research began in the autumn of 2015. It was into full body states, so called HYPERSTATES and auto compositional states and continued over a period of two years with the specific aim of expanding from the more general physiological body states towards subconscious biographical states. Moving away from composed somatic choreographed material of slow vibrational, monotonous, general movements of inner systems. Towards auto compositional states of dynamic and rhythmical nature and animated movements, used as performance material. The research extended into examining what makes space and time expanding, internal and altered states experiences visible from the outside and how to invite and choreograph invisible energetic realities and communication.
With a long-term commitment of the dancers a journey was embarked on weaving through the pathological body and its inner systems. Focussing on becoming conscious of the inherent inherited and conditioned body memory and the cognitive wiring directly associated with it. A precondition of the practice is entering a mind state where there is no pre-conceived notions of what is about to happen nor projections on to what is happening or expectations wishes and desires of what is supposed to happen. Thus through the action of letting go of control by entering into an active-passive state of inner listening, we surrendered to non-doing and like that created a space to witness whatever arises from that state. In this way we became be able to enter into formerly unknown body states, opening up our experience to the subconscious and inviting the unconscious to manifest. Entering this space of availability to the present moment and then having the trained capacity to be surrendered enough on all levels to sense and follow whatever comes up into visible and vibrational animated movements that is an auto compositional state and in its pure form it can be considered as embodied dance through the lens of phenomenology.
What is being done in concrete term is the practitioner registering through subjective sensorial experiences inner autonomous functions, biographical visceral realities, internal as well as outer energy fields and the materiality of the subtile body fields. These phenomenas become palpable once the inner listening has become very precise. That is why releasing tension and opening up blockages in the connective tissue, cells, muscles, bones, nervous and vascular system etc. is of high importance. The highly sensitized body emerges through the FULL DROP into the body deep tissue release practice manifesting concretely in increased presence, consciousness off and availability to be moved by and in resonance with outer and inner forces, outside of the scope of the analytical mind. Since these states are deep hypnotic, trance and meditative states the auto compositional states as a concrete outcome of an artistic practice can be considered advanced. Versus the most common experience of new practitioners through the means of the practice falling into a passive internal invisible journey and loosing sense of time an space entirely.
Through these new technical means derived from the HYPERSTATES research two new performance works premiered in 2017. HYPER, which was commissioned by the Swedish dance company Cullberg Ballet and Conspiracy Ceremony: HYPERSONIC STATES which premiered in Berlin at the Sophiensaele with a group of long-term collaborators. Where the realm of subjective private emotional pathological body was explored and the onus was given to channeling of sentiments and pathological realities living in the tissue.
The interconnected body researched during the period 2018-2021
The Subconscious Energetic body (2018-2021)
The creative and research phases between 2018-2021 were build on the Full Drop into the body practice and HYPERSTATES research while moving somewhat away from a focus on the introspective body and further towards recognizing the body as a component part of a dynamic, energetic landscape. Stepping from the introspective into the interactive, a step out of the frame of the personal within the context of the private pathological body, and into a landscape that considers energetic forces at play around us. Through the work developed in 2018 titled Pervasive Magnetic Stimuli, a research was done into the hyper-sensibility to and hyper-awareness of the intersection of the inner and outer energetic fields, and how the energetic forces that move us traverse this boundary. This research encompass the outer and larger tides that move through us, pulling our matter along in their wake. As well as exploring the lived reality of quantum entanglement, interconnectivity through the plasma of connectivity, connection, and reciprocity, and the nature of the resonance between individuals. The aim was to make visible and get deeply in touch with the colorful reality of the energetic landscapes we navigate on a daily basis partly or in some cases completely unaware. Leaving the introspective body behind and creating the availability for a conscious and immersive dialogue with the energetic forces that move us, swirl around us and through us. In this way exploring a new performative vehicle where the onus is removed from the dancer to perform according to a strict set of externally or internally imposed criteria. Instead offering energetic dialogues both within and beyond the limits of the physical body to arise.
This research opened into philosophical dimensions, integrating the deep fascial release practice of FULL DROP into the Body with philosophical thought and language in collaboration with Prof. Susan Kozel. A collaboration which began within the context of Kozels Living Archives project at Malmö University (2012-2017). Using as a base Guðjónsdóttir somatic research into embodied dance. The collaboration has expanded the concept of Somatic Materialism introduced by Kozel in her previous writings and has already produced several outputs such as philosophical essays, conference presentations at international symposium on phenomenology and an archival prototype using Mixed Reality. Kozels interest overlaps with this immediacy and sense of initiation, for in various philosophical writing on affect and in phenomenology this has been called the pre-reflective (Merleau-Ponty), the pre-categorical (Husserl), or even the missing half second (Massumi picking up on a concept from cognitive sciences). This simply means that the body comes first. Somatic states and affect first. Kozels and Guðjónsdóttirs collaboration is on going, with the aim to continue to deepen a phenomenological research into somatic materialism by exploring the translation of embodied states into writing and back again.
Through that work, the proposition is to investigate further the concept of immediacy in the FULL DROP into the Body method: the place in the now that occurs before cognitive refection; immediate presence and how it is possible to act from that place. Physically, our organs all shift into a direction before we can even sense the starter of the movement that happens. This can be picked up by us sensorially, and training is possible for how to sense this starter in the body before movement occurs – the starter would be the rise of a momentum in the body and (re)organization of the matter into certain direction. Following this, the movement gets animated in the body and the body is moved by that movement.
In the collaborative work the proposition is to understand states of immediacy, and then to see how these can enter into dialogue with philosophy on their own terms: not as illustrations of theory. The somatic states that make up the choreography help to construct an understanding of somatic materialism in the worlds of philosophy and design. Artistic research borrows from theory while in this case the art enters into an equal power relationship with philosophy, nudging it into greater nuance and power to account for liminal bodily states. Aiming for written language following the sensorial states of immediacy.
Research into the intersections and interconnectivity the practice and choreographic work has with other fields of science and forms of art: Collaborative, interdisciplinary works and dialogs (2017-2022)
The newest facet of Guðjónsdóttir research and artistic work is embedded in the creation of an installation exhibition and publication of a portable archive with selected somatic states chosen from her former works. The exhibition is a choreography of Mixed Realty technologies, kinaesthetic algorithms, archival material and live bodies. States of affective potential arise from awakening latent energies over time, across media and flesh, expanding what dance can be and how bodies can remember. With the title Bodily Interfaces / CATALYSTS -Somatic Resonance (2021-2022). This work is created by an interdisciplinary team of artists and researchers, phenomenologist Prof. Susan Kozel, screen dance maker Jeannette Ginslov and hacker Keith Lim, and is an intervention into the tensions and potential of current digital cultures. It participates in ongoing discussions around the expanded choreographies of interconnectivity of mediated bodies, healing, feminism, notions of energetic citizenship, AI and the pathology of the wider social-political body within our own bodies. Visitors to the exhibition carry the states from this choreographic exhibition outwards, like ripples in a collective somatic field.The collaboration on the AR/MR prototype for this work was done with the same team in 2017-2018 within the academic research project “Somatic Archiving”. The prototype was titled Conspiracy Archives and worked with exploring choreographed states from the performance Conspiracy Ceremony-HYPERSONIC STATES (2017).
Guðjónsdóttir commenced a long term artistic collaboration with Berlin based Icelandic visual artist and filmmaker Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir and composer Guðmundsdóttir in 2019 on the film project SILICA. Within this multi dimensional and multi disciplinary project that encompasses various outputs, the final outcome will be presented in a full length film format. Within this collaboration there is a continuation of the choreographers research into the subconscious energetic body, entanglement and resonance but with a specific focus on nature and materiality of nature. Being in contact and resonance with everything that surrounds you and within you is flow, is movement. It is movement that arises from being adorned, touched, received, resonated, heard, felt, from what is there. This follows what moves before one moves “oneself”. It is being surrendered to movements already in progress – in the body, around the body, through the body. That is the main interest within this project when it comes to movement and interconnectivity and embodiment. A symbiotic sensation of the environment around you (evaporating/disappearing into the environment around you). Embodiment of the environment around you. Melting into the outside elements, opening up the borders of the body. Blurring the lines/boarders of the physical body. Becoming one with the physical environment, being the physical environment. Being transformed. Versus internalization of the outside; Being present in the space/landscape and slowly falling more and more into yourself until the dancer/ person/ the human leaves the human matter/body, and disappears (a transcending experience for the dancer), from the outside there is a disembodiment which looks like the dancer is fare away from the body disappeared into an internal experience. The energetic component of the human leaving the body (an outer body experience for the dancer).
Since 2018-2021 an on going dialog is taking place with Italian philosopher Prof. Lucilla Guidi, within her postdoctoral position at Hildesheim University. In connection to Lucillas research project “Performance and language games as transformative events”. Which focuses on the systematic relationship between aesthetic and philosophical exercises based on Guðjónsdóttir somatic choreography and Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. The research project aims to establish a systematic connection between aesthetic and philosophical practice.