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Breakable Bodies

During my research Breakable Bodies I investigated the movement, materiality, sound and narrative of a porcelain object as it falls to pieces.

I started with the object, experimenting with dropping the objects on the ground, observing the moment of impact. The breakage happens so quickly that it is obviously difficult to see it in detail. Although the footage was difficult to capture due to safety concerns, online archives provided the necessary visual material. Live sound recordings of the breaking moment were collected and the physical and emotional reactions to intentionally breaking objects were observed. The experience was always accompanied with a mixed feeling of fear and excitement at doing something that we usually avoid or are taught from an early age not to do. The dropping was accompanied with slight force and the intention to destroy something. The moment is then so fast that you almost only have time to start that you immediately hear the sound of breaking, which every time took me by surprise. Even in this situation there is something liberating about letting go, despite the awareness that the object will never be what it was before. It got me thinking about the folk traditions of breaking plates at weddings as good luck gestures. Apart from the symbolism associated with these rituals there is, in the physical experience of the act, the emotion of doing something which lies in the realm of the forbidden and the irrational and that creates a sense of physical and emotional liberation.

The experiment on the video material with editing techniques of rewind, fast forward, of freezing the image led me to precisely observe the dynamics of the exact moment in which the object touches the ground and one or more cracks open expanding the space in between. Then through a rebound return to the ground dividing even more. This process is repeated over several bounces until the shatters are of such size and mass that they do not break further at the angle where the impact motion on the surface continues.

In the studio, I experimented with recreating the movement and kinetic energy expressed in the impact and combined this with imagining different contact surfaces in space. It led me to a movement in space in unpredictable directions of different body parts, to falling through space in various directions, to explosive moments of energy up to moments of balance and calm. 

A collaboration with the dancer Waithera Schreyeck brought to a movement score that emphasizes surrendering into falling through space and the unpredictability of external impulses. In the duo constellation we developed a choreographic technique based on the disruption of temporal linearity, creating a sequence that was torn to pieces and rebuilt from modified shatters. 

During the process I accompanied the work of the movement with the recorded sounds of the porcelain, here too I experimented with different techniques of temporal transformation of the sounds. I then wanted to experiment with the breaking into pieces and the reassembly that took place on a choreographic level with a piece of music. Through the meeting with the musician Isabelle Finou we experimented on creating music that follows the principles I developed in the research.

The research "Breakable Bodies" was done between March and April 2023. 

Thank you to Waithera Schreyeck, Isabelle Finou and Valerie Wehrens for the support and the artistic dialogues.

Research supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR, Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.

#TakeHeart Residency _ Fonds Darstellende Künste in partnership with tanzhaus NRW


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