Posted on September 14th, 2011
i sit on the concrete floor in the corner opposite helene vosters and watch. there is a materiality at play here. the body struggling. effort and attention are needed in the undoing of thread. the material is sturdy, the pieces of cloth sewn together with durability in mind.
i ponder visibility and invisibility. a part of me wants to be free from the visual, to “imagine” a woman, any woman, “somewhere” performing the task of unraveling. a woman who inhabits a hidden, but very real world. this woman is painstakingly undoing, unraveling, the uniforms of war. it is a life-long occupation, this unraveling. this woman will never finish, never count “how many” never quantify her task in terms of time. she just does it. it is vital to her understanding of what it is necessary to do.
in this sense “seeing” helene at work makes material and possible a different understanding of what i “imagine” can be. this is not “any woman” this is helene vosters. this performance, by this performer, is visible and placed for me, for us, to witness. it is restricted by time, by location, by what the body can endure. the question arises, in performances of this nature, performances which seem half conceptual, yet also very based in the “doing” – is this seeing necessary and what are the prices the visible asks us to pay? on the one hand it feels crucial to “know” there is an actual doing, but what does this material proof of the performer performing her intention do?
i will sit with helene every day of the festival and spend time with her as she unravels. i want to feel what this bearing witness to the unmaking does.