Dance4 and Critical Path in Sydney have an alternate year research residency exchange. It enables dance artists and choreographers to undertake open-ended research internationally with the support of the host organisation.
In Spring 2019 Pepa Ubera undertook the opportunity. In August 2019, Australian Artist Angela Goh was also hosted at iC4C in exchange.
About Pepa’s journey…
I arrived in Sydney on Friday 18th of January for four weeks and a very heavy jet lag clung to me while observing a new society. My head buzzed, I felt like it was 3am in the middle of the day, and I had a desire to sleep every hour. The sun, the light gave me energy to come back to consciousness… I spent the first week here in an unrecognisable space/time but I knew that it was only a matter of time until I would properly land, slowly land, in Australia!
I think of choreography as a diverse practice and what I make depends on the amount of time I give to the different practices I establish. In the last weeks in Sydney I have read chapters from Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway, Posthuman theories and some of my old notebooks. I have been observing and writing about the problems that the city of Sydney offers with this information in mind. I moved with these ideas, confusions and contradictions in my body everyday. It has been an emotional ride to embody all of this.
In every city and society it is possible to see general human behaviours. In Sydney, I have been looking for those that stop people from being sensitive, aware and connected to others and themselves. I saw self-obsessed humans with the promise of being part of a global well-being community, now that capitalism has absorbed parts of ancient spiritual practices to enable new age culture to expand across the globe – not forgetting the history of British colonialism in Australia. It is devastating to fly for 24 hours and see that Sydney has similar problems to the ones I experience in London.
My way of understanding the trouble we are in is by using the body as a lens through which to see the problems by observing, thinking and sensing. In my practice I am thinking of my body as a multidimensional space, a sensorial landscape, a place to understand the context and other lives around me. In part, this stems from how technology has redefined the use of the body in public spaces. These days, on public transport you are surrounded by people looking down to their handsets, operating so self-sufficiently, that they become insensitive in the world. I am interested in how we can use the body as a ‘Tool for Care’ to counter this.
Charco is a call for care in order to deal with the anthropogenic changes that WE, humans have caused on Earth. I have been searching and designing choreographies that challenge places of stagnation in society (charcos) and the behaviours that stop us from thinking of life as a space of wonder and experimentation. Socio-political choreographic practices have the potential to empower people by asking them to trust their caring and intellectual capacities. This research embraces choreography as the capacity to read the body of society in an anthropological way, to recognise what is currently at stake, to see which problems need attention and how social constraints are supported by the body.. Choreography establishes relationships while also holding opposites in order to bring visibility to the energetic field that lies in between.
From the body we think, from there we act, from there we can transform.
Listen here to an interview by Matt Cornell Wombat Radio between Patricia Wood, Pepa Ubera, Carla Zimbler during March Dance, Sydney 2019