Alexa Mardon, November 2016

This post builds on one of our first, Deanna's Creating Dialogue Around Something post from way back in April. One of my research and making interests has been around the documentation of a performance – not only the actual performance event, but the processes, detritus and traces that collect along the way. I'm interested in what these traces – whether they be stories, gestures, impressions, documents, lectures, or publications, tell us about the action and imperatives of making work, the relationships between collaborators, and the larger histories and perspectives each person brings to the work.

Last weekend, I saw Performance Encyclopedia by Ame Henderson and Evan Webber at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For five days leading up to the performance, Henderson, Webber and seven other writer/performers co-wrote an encyclopedia – of experience, imagination, longing, fear, desire, and speculation. Once the audience entered the gallery, we were invited to read the encyclopedia, laid out on chairs, as the performers printed and bound more copies for 75 minutes. Composed throughout the week during Trump's election, the writing was at times urgent, quiet, and sprawling. I read the entire document, finishing the last page at the ding of the bell signalling time up. At the end of the performance, the encyclopedia went out of circulation, and the performers gathered up the books. I'd prepared for the moment of relinquishing my print object, understanding that this was a possibility, but the book leaving my hands felt final, something like grief. Speaking to the performers afterwards, I learned that I was in fact able to take home an encyclopedia with me, under the condition that it not be treated as a reference object, only a document of a performance event. I was not to cite the writing or refer to it in a way that, as I understood it, positioned it as authoritative or definitive. The caveat made me wonder: what do we lose when we encourage language into the shape of a transient, ephemeral performance? If authorship can be temporary, what power to define our experience does language relinquish? Is loosening language from its authority necessary in a time where those in power wield language bafflingly, dictatorially, dangerously?

As a part of 8 DAYS V, a gathering of Canadian choreographers at Artscape Gibraltar point this summer, a printed publication has historically been produced. This year, a large conversation during the residency was around alternate ways of documenting the event. This is one approach we came up with.

Some beautiful correspondences and essays as a result of/response to the Dancer As Agent conference at DOCH in Stockholm in 2013.

One video, and one transcript (Marten Spangberg and Jonathan Burrows) from last year's Post-Dance conference.

A beautiful "catalog" from a Mette Edvardsen show, which stands as a work on its own.

Sara Wookey's performance lecture on Transmitting Trio A.

Notes from a conversation between Simone Forti and Steve Paxton.

A crowdsourced document on dance documents, put together by Sasha Kleinplatz this summer.

From our friends Arash Khakpour and Diego Romero, a podcast based on interviewing dance artists about their lives.

Ame Henderson + Evan Webber: performance encyclopaedia, a show in the shape of a book.

A nice parallel to my project with Justine A. Chambers and Peter Dickinson, Our Present Dance Histories, in which we attempt to interview about, perform, transcribe and map the last ten years of Vancouver's contemporary dance community. Our correspondence around the project was published on The Dance Centre blog this spring.

And, I write about SLIP(PAGE), a project exploring ideas around language, writing, choreography and space.

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