BeginAgain, if nothing else, enacts a new attempt at trust between the artists working together to produce it. Zoe subsuming herself, her body, in a heretofore unimaginable way, into the visual landscape of the piece. One which she was a co-creator, for sure, but an aesthetic scheme in which her ability to achieve it was less than Juniper's, who, as a visual artist having worked as a dancer, was uniquely suited to enact.
I wrote that a long while ago, actually—it comes almost directly (along with much of the previous section) from the drafts I wrote in late-August/early-September, right after the residency. But if the show’s not dark, that doesn’t seem to make any sense.
The same ideas and concepts thread their way across Zoe and Juniper’s work—memory and repetition, physical manifestation of psychic states, effects in which the focus slips between the body and its representation. The trick, for me, was pinning down what was different in BeginAgain, the new directions they were moving in with this piece. And at some point I settled on the idea of the dematerialization of the body.
In A Crack in Everything there are darker moments, particularly at the beginning with the reflection (projection) duet. But for most of the piece, the lighting is bright and saturated to illuminate the five dancers in glittery gold costumes. It’s on the whole a brightly lit piece.
But during the residency at On the Boards, I felt like I was seeing a darker and more muted tone. Instead of bright ambers and reds that dominated in A Crack in Everything, BeginAgain was cool blues and stark whites. The lighting and design effects I saw seemed intent on hiding the body as much as possible and manipulating how the spectator sees it. The “opening” they worked on was a simple repetitive phrase in which dancers, on a dim, hazy stage, emerged from and retreated back into the shadows. Another moment was a duet in which a dancer manipulated her cast shadow to perform a duet with a video-recorded silhouette. And another effect that considerable time was spent on was attempting to project a bright light against a white reflective floor, so that the reflected beam would clearly bifurcate the dancers’ bodies.
All of these effects seemed of a piece with the concepts that emerged from the No One to Witness chamber studies: The use of projection screens to activate specific parts of the space; the documents of ephemeral moments created by the plaster casts of dancers’ bodies and the dirt floor employed at gloATL; the conscious exploration of where the audience was situated in relation to the action at Velocity.
From there—from dozens of photos and hours of videos and days and nights spent in theaters with the company and my own six year engagement with their work—I constructed an entire critical narrative about BeginAgain that was dependent on one thing: The piece being darkly lit.
But it’s not darkly lit. Or probably not. Or possibly not. Or, really, it remains to be determined.
The point that Matt Trueman made—viz. that an embedded critic is not a critic in the classical sense, as there’s nothing to critique—I missed over and over again over throughout 2013. I kept trying to write something that wouldn’t come, because it wasn’t right.
How, after all, can you write criticism about something that doesn’t really exist?