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Soil Work

Durational practice in matter performance with 100 litres of soil, exploring the temporal signatures of bodies and matter

In 2018 I filled a black-box studio with 100 litres of soil (desperately wishing I could have logistically managed to fill it with more) and invited 8 collaborators to join me for an extended period of exploration and discovery.

The main theory I draw on when it comes to soil in performance is Jane Bennett´s thinking on vibrant materiality (2010)*:

Bennett focuses on vibrant materiality with a view to affect political thinking and action towards a more ecological and sustainable practice. She makes a case for the impersonal affect of both organic and inorganic bodies stating that the materiality of a thing is what enables it to be affective. This is interesting, because it relates to my idea of the temporal perception of matter and object as intrinsic to its materiality, rather than it being a result of interpretation from the anthropocentric stance of encountering an inanimate and therefore in-affective object. Temporal signatures could thus be seen to be inert in any matter regardless of its relation to human bodies.

If I relate this observation to my experience of object theatre and my attempts to alter the temporal signature of objects in performance, it becomes apparent how what I am affecting through assembling my chosen objects is a shift in how they are perceived by the audience in relation to the temporal signature of the performance. The temporal signature which is inert in the materiality of the thing exists in perpetuity and might hold the capacity to shift the manner of its affect through my manipulation of its assemblage with other bodies.

*Bennett, J. (2010) Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things, Durham & London, Duke University Press.

Soil: Bio
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