READING JOURNAL / WORKSHOP NOTES: The Unambitious Stripper with Isabel Lewis

Male / Female Gaze

Outward / Inward Gaze

Object / Subject

Patriarchy / Equality

I’m pretty hyped to be looking forward to a workshop with Isabel Lewis. Her work resonates a great deal with my own practice, as it is about creating immersive occasions where the artist/performer is not on a stage but actually sharing space with the audience.

Hers is an environment that activates all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and often taste. The experience of gathering – for her immersive occasions, creates a shared experience where a social bond is formed.

Moving within the space and among the participants – dancing/moving, singing, speaking – the energy and dynamics are shifted by what she brings to the space in the performance. Her gatherings are designed and choreographed with care and with love. All necessary for approaching peace.

Bringing the female gaze to cinema as Celine Sciamma did in her film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire offers a revolutionary way of looking at relationships as a more erotic sociability that is based on an authentic foundation of equality, care and harmony.

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WORKSHOP SYLLABUS: ISABEL LEWIS

Unambitious Stripper with Isabel Lewis
Departing from feminist sociologist Roslyn Wallach Bologh’s notion of “erotic sociability” as a form of interhuman sociality and an alternative to relational modes of competition, conflict, and coercion, this workshop will focus on the tuning and heightening of the senses in order to facilitate a state of hyper-presence that will be the aid towards generative and affective forms of being and dancing together, with and for one another. The figure of an unambitious stripper serves as a guide to connecting with our inner worlds in order to become more radically receptive to our outer worlds.

“Unambitiousness” is central to this investigation. The outward-oriented gaze that typically reaches out to address and arrest the viewer is turned in on the self in this scenario. Within each of our immediate kinespheres, looking at the surfaces of our own skin, sending the gaze further inward through the epidermis and into our fleshy insides a dance will emerge that, firstly given to oneself, can be offered to the other. This workshop uses guided imaginative exercises combined with playful physicality to approach and reconnect with the human and nonhuman presences we share space with. In this workshop dance is a doing and undoing of oneself in relation to the other. We will move along a continuum of becoming an object of interest and desire and being drawn out as an interested and desiring subject.

We will talk about risk, support, safety, freedom, entanglement, surprises, multiplicity, complexity, the future…We will at times alternately watch and perform for one another. We will be generous and kind to ourselves and one another.

Course goals:
-Arriving at a general understanding of the central thesis of Bologh’s book “Love or Greatness” and her analysis of 20th century forms of sociability.

-Establishing a strong theoretical basis for ethical sociable interhuman relations using Bologh’s notion of “erotic sociability”

-Arriving at a reflected understanding of the structural elements of performance format that is the strip dance.

-Applying and working with an expanded notion of strip dancing that incorporates self-reflexivity and unambitiousness.

-Coming away from the class with the experience of having integrating the theoretical work into a bodily practice, feeling theory.

Required Readings:
Selected excerpts from Roslyn Wallach Bologh’s “Love and Greatness”.
Pages 213-219; 224-239 PDF Pages 300-327 PDF

Suggested Readings:
An interview that gives a sense of my artistic approach:https://tankmagazine.com/tank/2019/talks/isabel-lewis/

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