Body Line of Thought (BLOT) examines “our microbiome as a collection of organisms in perpetual transformation.” (photo by Ionut Rusu)
Vanessa Goodman (Action at a Distance) and Simona Deaconescu (Tangja Collective) explore aspects of our humanity in their dance and art. Their collaborative Body Line of Thought (BLOT) is a four-video installation that “aims to strip the body of social meanings and rethink it as an interconnected system.”
BLOT runs Nov. 24-28, 1-4 p.m., at KW Studios as part of the Dance Centre’s 13th biennial Dance in Vancouver.
“In BLOT, we are interested in examining our microbiome as a collection of organisms in perpetual transformation,” explained Goodman. “The human body contains trillions of microorganisms, that outnumber human cells by 10 to one. Each person’s bacterial composition acts as an ersatz fingerprint: when two people touch, they exchange parts of this identity. With each point of contact we essentially ‘infect’ each other with bacteria. We incorporate these themes of communication and contamination on a physical level. We are interested in the banality and the danger of such exchanges.
“One of the main focuses of BLOT is centred around bacteria being an agent of infection and salt becoming a cleaning and restructuring force in our bodies,” she continued. “We are not scientists, but we are fascinated by how these basic elements of our biological makeup can drastically inform our mental and physical health. Both salt and bacteria transform organic material, and we are drawn to transformation within our work. We are interested in applying these relationships to our art practice, and this has allowed us to create a new space to explore conceptually and physically.”
Without salt, “senses are dulled, muscles can’t fire, and nerves cease to function,” Goodman said. “In BLOT, salt acts as a conductor for our creativity. We explore salt as a staging material and incorporate many of its tactile qualities across various mediums, providing a textural through-line between visuals, sound and movement. We try to reframe the banality of sweat, a ubiquitous element of every dance, as a thematic focus instead of a mere byproduct.”
As part of their research, Goodman and Deaconescu went to Portugal, where they were in residence with Bio-Friction at Cultivamos Cultura. There, said Goodman, “we learned how to cultivate our own bacteria in agar dishes and studied this information and imagery to build BLOT.
“Our work in dance and art aims to speak not only about widely discussed issues but also about the unseen life that shapes our body and connects it with the outside world,” she said. “We seek reciprocity in our practice, parallel to that of a healthy immune system: to become stronger, one must first be vulnerable and exposed.” (BLOT includes nudity.)
BLOT was presented as a three-video installation at Left on Main last year, via 20 personal Zoom performances. Its creators, Goodman and Deaconescu (who is also a filmmaker), connected when they were both choreographers at Springboard Danse Montréal in 2019.
“During this intensive working period, we realized how many artistic interests we share,” said Goodman. “We both use a deconstructed vernacular that flirts with pop culture and is mediated by the lens of conceptual and physical landscapes. We are interested in looking at the body as a biological technology that can be altered by its environment, which is especially relevant today.”
Dance in Vancouver features many ticketed and free events at various locations. This year’s festival was co-curated by Australia-based Angela Conquet with Michelle Olson and Starr Muranko of Vancouver’s Raven Spirit Dance. Some performances, films and events will also be available online. For tickets and information, visit thedancecentre.ca/event/dance-in-vancouver-2021.