the actual structure is the material is a two-channel cyclical video installation that acts as a personal and conceptual re-tracing of and meditation on the relationship between body, site and choreographic archive. The work is a response to the passing of my friend, mentor and collaborator the British dance and visual artist Rosemary Butcher MBE, known for her radical choreographic practice.
The title comes from a note made during a conversation with Butcher some years ago: ‘the actual structure is the material’, surrounded by arrows and scribbles and with no further elaboration. This is an example of the unique phrasing and specificity of words that formed the basis of her choreography and came to influence my work so strongly.
This work is an attempt to apply some of these concerns to the choreographic edit and structural framework of moving image. The film’s spoken narration draws upon phrases and instructions directly from Butcher’s notebooks and interviews; notes made by me during conversations and observations throughout our collaborations; interviews with several dancers; and original writing. This framework shapes an imagined conversation between myself and Butcher that spans time and space.
Two key works from Butcher’s archive provide the conceptual backbone of the film. The Site (a 1983 collaboration with visual artist Heinz-Dieter Pietsch) and Test Pieces (our last collaborative work) draw their source material from specific ruined sites in Dartmoor and Munich respectively. I locate and document these sites in the present day, looking to draw connections between them and them and the choreographies they inspired. This process became an act of both archiving and unearthing past movements and structures in the absence of performing bodies, whilst simultaneously becoming a body involved in a choreographic process.
Siobhan Davies Dance, London, 2019
Supported by the Stuart Croft Foundation (2017 award recipient)
Sound in collaboration with Simon Keep
Additional camera Paul Bates
Featuring performer Samir Kennedy Voice performed by Sarah Beck Mather
Installation photographs by Harry Mitchell