Visiting Artist | January 16 - 23, 2018 // May 29 - June 16, 2018
dark matter, selfish portrait
Award winning choreographer Jeanine Durning first came to MANCC in 2008 as a performer in Deborah Hay’s work If I Sing to You. Returning in January and then again in June 2018 as a choreographer in her own right, Durning to develop her solo dark matter, selfish portrait in a series of three total residencies at MANCC. dark matter, selfish portrait uses movement, language, sound, and situations to practice and interrogate subjectivity as a variable state and a paradoxical act of de-creation and unselfing.
As a meta-contemplation on the act of creating a performed ritual of self-transformation and otherness, Durning initially researched the history of self-portraiture in art and performance, and explored notions of (self)/consciousness and reflexivity, the individual’s perception of themselves in relation to society, the unknown/unseen, uncertainty, variability, and entropy.
Continuing with her ongoing solo practice of “nonstopping,” Durning is questioning whether the self can observe itself or if the self is only manifested by being observed by another. Her questions include: How is the individual performed in society? What is the individual’s purpose or place in the universe? What is the role of the solo performer when witnessed by audience? Is solo performance an oxymoron? What selves are we performing when witnessed by another? Can individuals ever really have a “personal” narrative, or is it always part of a collection of narratives? How does the consumption and velocity of global information affect the concept of self, as a concept of Western culture, and how do notions of the social (socialism, globalism, pluralism, multiculturalism) represent a loss of power in American ideologies?
Durning draws inspiration from William James’s philosophy of radical empiricism, which emphasizes the role of a subject’s experience in defining reality, and the work of Samuel Beckett, which probes the individual’s search for meaning and radically explores the gulf between our desires and the language we use to express them.
During her first MANCC residency in January 2018, Durning met with FSU’s Dr. Stanley Gontarski, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, whose research interests include European Modernism and performance theory, and who has published several books on the work of Samuel Beckett. Gontarski discussed Beckett’s oeuvre with Durning to further inform her embodied research on “the self” in both performance and society. She also discussed the theory of dark matter with astrophysicist Dr. Jeremiah Murphy. Durning further explored her ideas with School of Dance students in Dr. Jen Atkins’ graduate level MANCC Experience course and Dr. Hannah Schwadron’s Contemporary Perspectives in Dance class.
Durning returned to MANCC in June 2018 with composer Tian Rotteveel for a second residency, during which they began to collaborate on the sonic landscape of the work. Durning continued her conversations with FSU faculty members, Dr. Stanley Gontarski and Dr. Hannah Schwadron, and experimented with different orientations of audience and performer in two open rehearsals, which were attended by School of Dance faculty and students. As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Jenn Joy visited the artists in residence for two days of observation and conversation.
This multi-residency support is made possible through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which allows artists to more thoroughly research their ideas in multiple phases. Durning will return to MANCC for a third residency in Winter 2019.