Constants

a future perfect (1998)

She is rehearsing her love just one more time. Over three score and ten, now she needs to get it just right. Time is running out for her, as it is for the rest of us. But in this constant instant, this endless replay of those lines he might have said, the moves she kind of made, the images you will see, her time is also filling up and brimming over. Her past pours into the future, which is where we are all going. In this old woman’s reverie, memory compresses upon memory, the images so vivid we do not know whether they or she are for real. What actually happened and what could still happen saturate one another. And at this point of letting go, does it really matter whether our memories retell the past or help us write the future?

Collaborating with composer Darren Bourne and multi-media artist Caroline Rye, Bodies in Flight’s ninth work challenged the assumptions we make about the ageing process. Two women performers, one twenty-three, the other seventy-four, interrogated the differing capabilities and experiences of each other’s lives. Using choreography and text, sound and video interactively, they conspired and conflicted to stage our culture’s anxieties over, attitudes to and depiction of the old. Their bodies became the intimate site upon which to celebrate the ageing process as both beautiful and terrible, as the one, truly shared experience of human existence.

If the “body beautiful” had been the centre of attention in the previous work, here we focused on the ageing body, the body in a palpable state of decay, as 74-year-old Sheila Gilbert made her way from the walls of the space to its “dead” centre, moving through the seated audience, often using them as physical supports for her painful journey inwards. Collaborating with media artist Caroline Rye, for the first time, we integrated video technology into our making process with Sara choreographing a dance with and for camera that conceived of the performer being in a duet with the technology. Accordingly, we presented the work both as a media installation (work in progress) and as a performance: we began to understand that a single work can have many different manifestations; and that material and media can duet the one with the other.

DARREN BOURNE sound composer, PATRICIA BREATNACH performer, SARA GIDDENS co-director/choreographer, SHEILA GILBERT performer, SIMON JONES co-director/writer, CAROLINE RYE media artist

Performed at: Celebration Nottingham – Bonington Gallery (Nottingham) work in progress, Bonington Gallery (Nottingham) show, Arnolfini (Bristol)