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Ben Spatz

Audiovisual Research: Technique, Identity, and Place in the Judaica Project.

The Judaica project was a laboratory for new embodied technique at the crossroads of experimental performance, critical identity politics, and ethnomusicological archives. Funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to conduct six months of full-time embodied research, the Judaica project has been working with Jewish songs in Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, Turkish, Luganda, English, and other languages. The laboratory work draws on performance studies, social epistemology, visual anthropology, decolonial Jewish studies, and contemporary philosophy to offer new ways of working through vocality, embodiment, identity, culture, and multimedia.

Ben Spatz is a nonbinary researcher and theorist of embodied practice. They are Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield, UK; author of What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research (Routledge 2015); and AHRC Leadership Fellow with the project “Judaica: An Embodied Laboratory for Songwork” (2016-2018). Ben is also the editor of the videographic Journal of Embodied Research from Open Library of Humanities and the Advanced Methods imprint from Punctum Books; co-convener of the Embodied Research Working Group within the International Federation for Theatre Research; and co-investigator on the ESRC project “Research with a Twist: A Somatics Toolkit for Ethnographers” (2018-2019). Ben has recently been invited to speak at conferences on theatre, dance, music, martial arts, and intangible cultural heritage at the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, Kent, Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Maynooth, Ghent, and Zagreb, as well as at New York University, City University of New York, Northwestern University, and University of the Arts Helsinki. Ben has more than two decades of experience as a performer and director of contemporary performance, working mainly in New York City from 2001 to 2013. <www.urbanresearchtheater.com>.

Mary Schnepf and Ka Shu Tam

Alone

Video and choreography: Mary Schnepf

Composer: Ka Shu Tam

Without a sense of belonging it is easy to question one’s place in the world. Technological advances allow us to connect via the screen, yet this mass connection does not necessarily alleviate feelings of isolation. Dance, a performance medium that often seeks an embodied connection with its live audience, understandably struggles with presentation of itself on the screen. To many, it strips away the intimacy and shared knowledge of being physically present with moving bodies in a shared space. Can dance find something else when created for the screen? In collaboration with composer Ka Shu (Kenneth) Tam, my recent film project Alone, inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same name, seeks to use dance for the camera as a way to project the tone of the poem:

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were—I have not seen

As others saw—I could not bring

My passions from a common spring—

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow—I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone—

And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone.

Alone occurs in an empty amphitheater, an abandoned town, and an old concrete factory. In these site-specific places, one can feel the presence of those who used to be there or, perhaps more intensely, feel the weighted absence of them. The dancers dance alone but communicate this feeling and connect to the audience through a distant yet shared relationship via the screen.

Mary Schnepf is a 2nd year Dance MFA student at the University at Buffalo with a focus on multi-disciplinary approaches to performance and archival research on the evolution of storytelling, music and dance in the Americas. She earned her BS in Theater Design at Buffalo State College and her MAH in Film and Performance at the University at Buffalo while completing internships at Artpark and NBC. Her short dance film “Where Emptiness Lies” was presented in 2018 as part of the 40 North Dance Film Festival and she continues to explore how film can affect and abstract movement.

Ka-Shu (Kenneth) TAM, based in Hong Kong, draws most of his music inspiration from the daily auditory experience in his home city. Tam’s works have been performed and have received radio broadcast all over the world. He is also a keen participant in various international events. His works cover a wide range of genres, ranging from music for traditional forces to multimedia creations. Tam is currently pursuing his PhD in Music Composition in the University at Buffalo. He completed his Bachelor in Hong Kong Baptist University and his Master in University of Missouri -Kansas City. 

Clare Charnley and Lena Heubusch

Are you there, screen?

Visual Artists Clare Charnley and Lena Heubusch were teamed up by Dr. Ope Lori to jointly give a presentation during the symposium ‘Encountering Difference’ at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London in January 2018. Despite their living distance, they have kept working together since. In the recent past they have embarked upon a collaborative project on writing via multiple screens. Charnley and Heubusch both inherit a passion of sharing how contemporary practices influence their thinking and working process, and believe in the positive effects of an interactive education in this field. They continuously work on transmitting and transforming their knowledge in order to create new forms of learning.

Clare Charnley is based in Leeds. Until her recent retirement she was Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University and, before that, Research Fellow in Art at The University of Lincoln. With an interest in working across cultures, she initiated many collaborative performances with local artists and writers in venues such as Dashanzui International Art Festival, Beijing China: National Welsh Eisteddfod, Caernarfon, UK: Performance Art Platform, Tel Aviv, Israel: The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland: Casino Luxembourg Forum d’Art Contemporain: The Bengal Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh.: DoDao Festival, Macao and Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City. Her long term collaboration with Patricia Azevedo (Brazil) mainly takes the form of dual performances to Skype camera. Azevedo and Charnley presented their joint work, exploring the screen as hetrotopic space, in ‘Beside The Screen (Telas à parte)’ conferences in Rio de Janeiro and Vitória, Brazil 2014. The presentation was published in Cinema apensar da imagem.

Lena Heubusch is based in Berlin and London. Her work addresses the exploration of collective dynamics that investigate quantum interconnections between the material, the intuitive and the sensitive. She explores the hybridization between performance, sculpture, video and sound as means to question the traditional categories of the image. Heubusch also questions these liminalities within the format of workshops, most recently in Madrid, Spain and Spazju Kreattiv Malta. She is co-founder and editor of the artist-led publication None of The Above. Selected exhibitions include group shows at Lethaby Gallery (London), Central Saint Martins (London), Doomed Gallery (London), Five Years Gallery (London), Sluice Biennal (London), Wandsworth Arts Fringe (London), The Crossing (London), The Window Galleries (London), Furtherfield (London), Tate Modern (London), Spazju Kreattiv (Malta), CAC (Malaga), Sala Cuarto Espacio (Zaragoza) and Martch Gallery (Istanbul). She performed for Otobong Nknaga during Documenta 14 (Kassel) as well as for artists and educators Alex Schady and Anna Lucas at Tate Modern Summer School London in 2016. In the same year she was shortlisted for the Clifford Chance Sculpture Award (London) and has been involved in numerous collaborative projects, recently developing an exhibition including video-actions and collective sculptures for Ruta234, a project commissioned by Pueblos en Arte and the Autonomous Community of Aragon (Spain).