FLOOR OF THE FORREST A Tale from Within
With no introduction, I walk to the central patio of the museum, always accompanied. There’s a sculpture before me: four metallic rods form a cube, between them, various ropes intertwine in a symmetrical manner, creating spaces filled with clothing of different colors. As I approach the piece, it reveals more defined forms to me: shirts, trousers, skirts, dresses, shorts, unfold in an ensemble of colors and textures.
I put my hands on the rod, look at my partner in the eye and without further ado, we simultaneously climb onto the structure. I carefully observe this esplanade covered in colors, and on this occasion, I decide to be the first one to choose the clothes I will put on. I move towards them through the ropes, walking on my hands and feet. My body thinks, it starts to make spontaneous decisions; I do not seek physical virtuosity but – in the words of Trisha Brown – «to demonstrate the connection between the mind and the body, to challenge gravity but also to succumb to it, giving a new meaning to the daily action of dressing and undressing.»
My decisions will not have the imagined result because the will of the piece comes in, it is almost always necessary to adapt to the challenges imposed by gravity and the clothes. However, even though they might put me in a predicament, I cannot revert the selection I’ve made because somebody’s watching me and he’s already part of my problem: to abandon the clothes would be like abandoning him.
Sometimes the cloth that holds me can barely support me and, little by little, it starts ripping; the sound it produces reminds me of the rumor of the forest floor when leaves fall and wood creaks beneath our steps.
I witness how various mobile phones register, store and share – or maybe even «publish» – this moment; I think of the ephemeral and the new significance we give it nowadays. It may seem contradictory to stage Floor of the Forest here and now, when we take into consideration that this piece was created at the beginning of the 70’s, in the context of New York avant-garde and Californian counterculture.
It is obvious that we cannot expect things to remain intact, life evolves and we must adapt to it, we must take hold of our past and update it. It is about trying to set up a piece that has been presented under the same conditions in different parts of the world, and is presented in Mexico for the first time, twenty three years after its creation. What significance does presenting this piece have in the current context of the performing arts in Mexico? What does it really question?
It is important to remember that Trisha Brown, an iconic figure of post-modern dance, drastically reformulated what dance and the stage were; the value and the perspective we give to our daily gestures within a horizontality, articulating gravity, expanding our bodies and making sense out of the present through nothing else to hide or indicate.
In my point of view, this performance incites us to continue liberating ourselves from certain attachments we still hold from the performing arts tradition in Mexico, by reminding ourselves of another vision of what can also be considered dance and choreography. Considering that a sector of our country’s groups, companies, dancers, choreographers and spectators are stuck in the past and only a few lived or experiment this «period marked by the distancing from the specific nature of media, the dissolution of limits between the fine arts genre, the dematerialization of the artwork and the interdisciplinary explorations that work in the same way on choreographic and dance practices, likewise influenced by the spatial proximity to the minimalistic object and its phenomenological interests.»
My torso and my head are suspended in the air, hanging from a Lycra t-shirt that is slowly giving in; any subtle movement is enough to feel as though my head might run the risk of falling to the ground. I’m wearing a t-shirt as if it were shorts, but as the seconds go by, the weight of my pelvis succumbs to gravity; if I tense my muscles to hold on and defy it, I will most like get tired and fall. All my movements, including my breathing, have to be efficient.
I look in front of me for a moment, through the fabric; a woman is watching me, she has a baby in her arms. I sense how that little one rests on his mother’s chest, his body completely relaxed, and one feels the confidence that he will not fall, but that is something that occurs naturally, he’s not aware of it (as I am now), of his body or the risks his current position might be exposed to. I grasp this image and embrace it to relax my body and enjoy the challenge gravity imposes. I open my eyes and watch the space in which I find myself. The main hall of the Tamayo Museum is very big. Even though I am wrapped in cloth, I cannot get lost in myself, I have to expand my presence, my body. I have to find the precise energy to lure the visitors in. I immerse myself in the sounds coming from Germinal, Carlos Amorales’ installation on one side of the room. I imagine those percussions being my partner’s resonance as he moves through the structure, affecting my position and reaching the spectator.
As a ballerina at the Contemporary Dance Production Center, I question the relationship between the current context and the new choreographic creations. Throughout the years and pieces I have collaborated in, the processes that took risks in exploring and experimenting were very few. What is the reason behind this phenomenon? Is it because of the conditions imposed to create a piece under a determined institutional framework, where a deeper reflection would be necessary for the methods of current creations? As if we were tied down to a specific timeline that had to be met. Is it a matter of time or need? That is, who or what is really determining the difference between the idea of «production-delivery» and that of «experimenting-creating»? The institution or the choreographer?
I’m left with the sense that what this piece emphasizes is how important it is for artistic creation to be experimental, and the high risk it runs when falling into established patterns. Floor of the Forest allows us to highlight what was, to value the present and encourages us to create what comes next. Having presented Trisha Brown’s piece in a museum – which also establishes a strong institutional framework – evokes a different way, for the artist as well as the spectator, of contextualizing the perception we have of our body, our movement, and of space.
«Time!» … Always aware of what’s going on with my partner and my surroundings, I decide how and when to finish the action I find myself in, and emerge to the surface. I walk to the edge, still on my hands and feet, and I look at the space, searching for any remains of our traces to erase. I come down from the structure and as I walk away, it becomes a sculpture once again.