This space hosts a writer’s workshop.
(Let them in, handout the papers and pens, let them know they can grab a glass of wine if they want to.)
Thank you all for coming and we are welcoming you to this writer’s workshop.
For those who are not familiar with what a writer’s workshop is; it’s usually a workshop where a mini-lesson, task, or prompt is given to the participants, and they respond to it through creative writing.
In this workshop your task is to create a short manual for love consisting of nine different axioms, inspired by the prompts that will be provided.
For clarity we have divided the workshop in nine different sections, each including a different prompt and each titled with the word axiom and the numbers 1 to 9. You can write while the prompts are in progress, but we will be also giving a couple of minutes after each prompt is finished for you to write.
Feel free to write as literal or as abstract as you want.
At the end of the workshop, we will create a space for sharing some of our axioms.
We will be also making a digital collective manual for love based on what you wrote, and we will share it with every participant through email. So, if you would like to participate in this, please write your email at the back of the paper and hand it over to us before you leave.
We will be starting soon,
So, grab your pens and papers, and let’s write about Love.
This space offers a task, two bodies that function as prompts, nine different opportunities (created by nine different axioms) to explore something about love, and time to write about it. It also offers wine, and a chance to come together, share and discuss the love axioms composed throughout the workshop.
The piece creates an opportunity to engage with love and its practice; love in its all inclusiveness; for one's self, for each other, for friends, partners, community; an opportunity to view love not as a predetermined script that precedes us but as an active practice and a scrip we are all co-writing right now.
This is the script we co-wrote at that moment.
Our collective love manual
On the contrary to the other spaces, this one emerged from the experience of various virtual dimensions, created through reading multiple books on love and its practice. Some of them where Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving (1956), bell hooks’ All about Love (1999), and Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of Love (1994).
They all made me think about how books cannot only affect our virtual fantasy worlds but our everyday life, our day-to-day actions.
They made me think that books can be put into practice.
Books as practice
What is a reader’s ‘practice’?
This question led me back to Iser's reader-response theory.
As readers we fill in the structures of the text, it’s 'unwritten complications', it’s 'gaps' (Mambrol, 2018). By engaging in this process, we are recreating the text; we are producing a new one. 'We look forward, we look back, we decide, we change our decisions, we form expectations, we are shocked by their nonfulfillment, we question, we muse, we accept, we reject; this is the dynamic process of recreation' (Iser, 1974, p.288). I think of all these actions, that ultimately lead to the production of a new text; a text that is based on the structures of the written text but also transcends them, to be the core of our practice as readers.
Thoughts around what is entailed in the reader’s practice accompanied the process of creating Imprint#3 and influenced the ways it was formed and developed. One of the main ideas produced by the reader-response theories; that which suggests that as we read, we undergo a process of producing a new text that is unique to each reader, inspired the piece’s structure as a writer’s workshop. Having the audience write as they ‘read’ the two bodies moving on stage was a way to experiment with this idea and with creating space for this element of the reader-text relationship to manifest through that of audience-performance.
The fact that the performance was not structured in a linear way, with its sections flowing into each other, was also the product of an experimentation with bringing a reader-response element into the work; that which proposes that text structures entail ‘gaps’. ‘Gaps’ that the readers fill in following their own perceptions, experiences, and imagination (Iser, 1978). In the work, these ‘gaps’ translated into eight repeated moments, where both bodies were absent from the stage and the audience was encouraged to ‘fill them in’ by reflecting on what they previously ‘read’ through writing and by continuing composing their manuals.
The more actively the reader participates in filling the unwritten parts of the text, Iser suggests, the bigger of an impact the new reality the text provides has on the reader (Iser, 1974). The text can never be entirely experienced without the active contribution of the reader, which ultimately means that the reader is asked to reveal aspects of themselves in order to enter the new realities the text can offer (Iser, 1974). Mirroring the situation the reader enters through the process of reading, Imprint#3 provides an experience that preconditions the audience’s active participation. The writing of the axioms creates opportunities for the audience to reveal aspects of themselves whilst functioning as a prerequisite to fully experiencing the piece and the realities it creates.
When the performance/workshop took place, I had the role of the performing body on stage, the prompt; I did not have the opportunity to read the movements and actions of the bodies, to write about them, to fill in the silences with words on paper.
When merging and editing the different manuals together to create the collective love manual, I thought it would be nice to also give it myself a go, and write a love manual. I grabbed one of the same ‘writer’s workshop’ papers we had handed out to the audience, sat back comfortably, poured some white wine in my glass, and pretended I was among other audience members watching two bodies moving across the space.
I started writing, only to realise it is hard to pretend that I am one of the audience/writers, seeing the prompts for the first time.
I proceeded by erasing every word that I wrote.
My body carries a different experience; that of being exposed in front of people holding papers and pens, of performing choreographed and improvised movements, of following tasks and music scores, of connecting with another body, of being 'read' as a prompt.
I put that paper to the side and grabbed a blank one.
I started writing again.
Falling in love and standing in love
love surrendering and love action
tap to awaken the bodies about to be read
and exercise falling, suspension and communication.
Are we ever really ready?
Choreographed bodies in disciplined robot worlds and ecstatic raves that may be revealing something about love or not.
The writings will tell.
Fabrics, covers, beddings, layers
Love keeps in motion.
The bodies we lost, the ones we remember.
Scattered words thrown in the space.
Love is my favourite.
Rhythmic bodies in effort, in giving up.
I’m doing my best.
Really. I am.
Tie around and around and around.
Until you are equally supported and trapped.
Now, reach out.
I can’t see you, but I am here.
Not for long though.
I will find the window.
I need to look outside.
Take a breath, take a sip of wine, write a few words.
Negotiate space, each other, together, apart, pauses, challenges, silences, surprises.
We could do this a million different ways.
It will always tell us something about love.
Prepare your feet.
Stretch your toes.
Carry. Pull. Rest.
It’s a long way.
Shake until numb.
All of me is here.
Love is still my favourite.
I am smiling, as I am typing these last words, having a sense of assurance about my work. Love is a reoccurring theme in my creative practice and, before making this work, I went through a state of negatively criticising that.
But while I was occupied with thoughts that love might be too ordinary of a theme, too broad, even too cliché, and that there must be something more critical and compelling to turn my focus to, especially in the chaotic world we are living right now, it so happened that love infiltrated my work even deeper. Despite thinking of moving away from it, to explore other routes, it came back with a sense of urgency and greater value.
And, reader, I just had to accept that.