Sculpture by The Sea Opening Party 2013
The Emergence of The Extemporary
At the Sculpture by The Sea party last Thursday, I encountered the usual difficulty of talking and listening in a room which allows for conversation to be backgrounded by the surrounding commotion.
I decided, as I often do on these occasions, to restrict my communication opportunities to dance. Dance brings its own dialogue. You get to find out about a person. You get to establish quite quickly the scope for connection, for openness, for aliveness. You sense whether a person has rhythm, whether they catch on to an idea and come for a ride. You can sense whether others can offer a journey you are willing to undertake. Some dancers are so locked away you have to cross a great divide to reach them, which brings another life.
You can move across the dance floor as you would move across a room to make conversation. As with conversation, you want for an engaging dialogue. You also don't want to find yourself caught in a mire, so deep you get bogged. Just as party conversation can be limited, so too can dance, but for the hearing impaired it can be rewarding. As a sculptor at the Sculpture by The Sea, the dancing unquestionably made the occasion qualify as a legitimate tax deductible expense.
And so it was, at The Sculpture by The Sea party, that after a time of talking and listening I started to dance and quite quickly I was joined on the dance floor by others. The desire to dance is like dry scrub and lightning. It takes really quickly. Women particularly are susceptible to it. They can leave off from a conversation mid conversation to join the dance. Too much nodding while listening can lead to drowsiness.
With hindsight I can imagine the experience as a chain of linked parts. In the moment one is necessarily attached to each glorious part as you submit to the nature of it. The parts were made up of dances with individuals and with other peripheral observations.
For the sake of my argument, I shall describe some of the parts as I remember them. Readers imagine they know or can guess the identities of the dancers.
The Latin (sic) dance spoke of surrender, of flow, touch, union, show and beauty. In the dance I gave myself wholly. Had I been a bird, it would have led to mating for life. In a culture that promises an ultimate destination of heaven, such as the latins promise, I could taste it. I stared into the face of God.
Being able to be caught in the moment of the dance however, these subliminal promises are contextualised by amnesia. On the dance floor you can fall into a reverie, but there will always be dancers to catch you as you fall, who will slap you back into shape, to face the music.
I danced with Country Girl, who was guile and naturalness in equal measure. She had no truck for image or style. To find oneself with no place to hide is where you want to be. In Australia we can do, where time stands still. When you can mate for life you can also mate for eternity.
It does hurt to be unfaithful but on the dance floor unfaithfulness plays a big part to guarantee the even flow of movement.
At a point in the dance we became for all our irreconcilable differences, the one thing. We were a sum of unsummable parts. We circled around the circle on the carpet, one way, then anther, then in, then out. We made a map that described a place. We added specially durable invisible stitches to the virtual carpet on the floor.
I danced with an Egyptian, head held still like a snake might pounce, body all curves and writhing parts. I danced with those I knew, from whom I knew I could not hide.
I danced with a man from Indonesia who knew the ways of the dance jungle off by heart. I danced with Contemporary girl, who could speak digital and freeze frame.
The dance subsequently left my heart pounding, the sweat chilling on my chest compounding the flu which I had already brought with me.
I spoke with Contemporary Girl subsequently at another Sculpture by The Sea function. We tried to define the style or type of dance that she and I had entertained and she came up with Eccentric Contemporary which I have more recently condensed to Extemporary and applied it more generally to art.
The Extemporary describes that condition that includes all of what came before and all that lies ahead. It is that place which describes where those two places meet. It is like but entirely unlike The Post-modern, that draws from many parts to make an outcome. In the case of the Extemporary, there is no deliberation or navigation available.
It comprises simply the acceptance of all that we are and can be. It is the new permanent from which there can be no escape.
Movements come and go. They are named on a sound premise and at other times the ground is flimsy. We may have to wait some time to appreciate The Extemporary's prospects.