A 90 year old woman learns a sequence of movements (a mixture of Eastern and Western body language). She then performs it for the camera. As the aged body inhabits the learnt sequence gesture starts to erode and be transformed. A young body (the artist) then relearns this altered version of the choreography frame by frame. The installation presents the aged and the young, pre-recorded and live, performing together in complete synchronicity. As the live body is inhabited by the recorded gestures a sense of unity emerges, a resonance between two times, spaces, bodies and media. A unity that nonetheless reveals the sheer impossibility of precisely reproducing ‘time lived’.
2 bodies II is a durational performance which uses projected moving image and live presence to explore the “archaeology” of human gesture; the piece looks at the idea of body as ruin, time as unique experience.
As the human body ages, its limitations as well as its accumulated stories seem to erode the full gesture of a once young body, while at the same time loading it with connotation - the weight of a lifetime of shifts and events. 2 Bodies explores this space between the young and the aged focusing on the tension and energy produced by the juxtaposition of ability with limitation, therefore expanding our sense of presence. I am also interested in the concept of reenactment; the idea of trying to reproduce someone else’s recorded ‘event’ in order to bring it into the ‘now’ via one’s own body. The sheer attention required to try to reenact that ‘exact lived moment’, and with it the inevitable failing, produces an extreme awareness towards every fraction of time, forcing the body (of the performer) to live in the absolute present. This enables a sense of altered perception in the viewer, who him/herself is drawn into the flow of time ‘re-lived’ and into a physical identification of the minute movement gaps between the two bodies - the gaps of time.
The piece is presented borrowing the format of gallery moving image installation (a looped piece with fade out and into black) yet in a site-specific environment and as a live work. The piece is 9’25’’ long - there are 6 continuous loops, amounting to a performance experience of 56’23’’ including blacks. It is in this way that the live presence creates a shift in our usual experience of ‘the recorded and installed’ typically found in the gallery space.
Installation Venue and Sound
A first version of 2 Bodies was originally conceived (2001) for St. Mary on the Wall in Colchester, once a medieval church. Its second incarnation (2005) is integrated into St. John the Baptist Crypt in Bristol, a building dating from the 14th and 15th C and which was principally a place of burial for distinguished citizens. The footage of the 90 year old woman is projected directly onto the wall and integrated into one of its arches, as the dimly lit site ephemerally reveals its eroded funerary architecture.
The soundscape is here used to fragment time while uniting the bodies in movement. Exterior sounds of the road seep into the space of the crypt contributing a live, changing layer, constantly bringing us back to the ‘now’ of time.
Artist filmmaker: Isabel Rocamora
Choreographer: Isabel Rocamora
Camera: Mark Chandler
Performers: Betty Campbell, Isabel Rocamora
Sound: Helena Gough