Performed Choreographies of Labor @ PSi#23


Within the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, the Polish pavilion chose not to present the country’s latest architectural designs but rather the invisible labor conditions and (often migrant) laborers essential to construction industries in growth economies. Photographer Edward Burtynsky, in Manufactured Landscapes, also drew attention to invisible laborers breaking down cities once populated by millions. Seventy-five years ago Hamburg, too, had invisible laborers—prisoners manufacturing bricks and prefabricated housing components within nearby concentration camps—as did Tucson—whose scenic mountain highway was built by interned Japanese-American citizens—and other American cities where interned Japanese-American women wove camouflage for the war effort.

How to re-think labors of spatial construction and de-construction through the lens of performance, neither as spectacle nor as Taylorized movements and material flows, but as practices acknowledging and honoring the often invisible and contained populations and their labor? My practice-based research moves between architectural and choreographic modalities; it is informed by task-oriented choreographies of the Judson Church Group as well as emergent, contingent, relational choreographies; by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone’s idea of thinking-in-movement and its architectural reciprocal—Space-in-the-Making (Frances Bronet). I also draw from Trinh T. Minh-ha’s politics of speak nearby and inappropriate/d others.

At PSi#23 (Overflow, Hamburg) I shared work in progress—choreographies of labor—a working through the politics and practices of redacting and camouflaging—in relation to spaces that contain and disappear others and the construction-related labor of interned populations.

Neuengramme Erasure, performed at PSi#23 in Hamburg, June 10, 2017. Images courtesy of Jo Kinniburgh and Shauna Jansen

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