The elixir of life?

The tea-plant, a native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine… and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eye-sight. It was not only administered as an internal dose, but also often applied externally, in the form of a paste, to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as in important ingredient of the elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.

Mug: from set of Do Not Alight Here.

Messenger exchange: with Kuei-ju, dear friend, former flatmate, resident of Taiwan and Chinese translator

Text: Lu Yu, The Classic of Tea: Origins and Rituals 1974 (quoted in Green Gold, Macfarlane and Macfarlane)

 

Tea stats

 

20170907_134643

No one on earth drank tea a few thousand years ago. A few small tribal groups in the jungles of south-east Asia chewed the leaves of the plant, but that was the nearest anyone came to tea drinking. 2000 years ago it was drunk in a handful of religious communities. By a 1000 years ago it was drunk by millions of Chinese. 500 years ago over half the world’s population was drinking tea as their main alternative to water.

During the next 500 years tea drinking spread to cover the world. By the 1930s there was enough tea for 200 cups of tea a year for every person in the world. Tea is now more ubiquitous than any type of food or drink apart from water. Thousands of millions of cups of tea are drunk every day. In Britain, for example, 165 million cups of tea a day are drunk, an average of over 3 per person. This means that about forty per cent of the total liquid intake of the British population is in the form of tea.

Alan and Iris Macfarlane, Green Gold, published 2003

FOREIGN

And I thought I was just buying crockery for my tea ceremony…

McKinley Tariff Act (1): Origin of the ‘FOREIGN’ marking:

On October 1st 1890 the Congress of the United States passed the so-called ‘McKinley Tariff Act’, a law that was introduced by the 25th President, William McKinley. This law not only imposed the highest tariffs that the United States had ever placed on imports, it also demanded that all items imported to the US, regardless of country of origin, had to be marked as ‘FOREIGN’. This act was revised in two main steps: the first revision followed prompt, replacing the ‘FOREIGN’ with the true country of origin, based on the fact that Great Britain had already forced Germany to use ‘Made in Germany’ for their goods.

markings with ‘FOREIGN’ were indeed officially dropped, however their use represented a perfectly legal possibility of avoiding a true country mark when the target country had outlawed the corresponding country of origin. People may instantly conclude that this regarded German items created during World War 2, but that was only rarely the case.

Instead of vanishing from sight, the ‘FOREIGN’ mark was actually used on and off ever since its introduction, with various countries either using it or allowing imports showing such a mark. For example, West German potteries during the early Mid-Century-Modern era actually marked ‘Foreign’ for export to countries like Hungary or Bulgaria (as Western goods were not taken very well behind the Iron Curtain) while the U.S. accepted ‘FOREIGN’ marked imports from the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.

So the mere presence of a ‘FOREIGN’ mark says absolutely nothing about the age or the intended target market of an item, in fact these items require intensive research as to place them correctly. Don’t let yourself be fooled by sellers that claim a certain age (or country of origin) based simply on the presence of this mark.

From: porcelain marks and more dot com

Thinking laterally and vertically and conjuring new realities

TEST

This post also appears as an entry on The Red LineSouth East Dance‘s blog exploring dramaturgical thinking.

conjuring-new-realities

A desire to learn more about dramaturgical approaches and to test them out on the germ of an idea for a new work led me to this workshop organised by South East Dance. Through group activities we explored “the potential of language as a generative form” and I left Martin Hargreave’s workshop with many strategies for getting outside my own ‘natural’ processes, and for approaching my research in both a more frivolous, and voluminous way. Do lots. Discard later.

Richard Serra’s Verb List 1967-68 – which we employed (see photograph in Adrienne Hart’s blog post) – provides a useful metaphor for some of the tasks and approaches we undertook. You can think across the list both horizontally and vertically, or randomly, exploring the connections and contradictions between words and ideas, following fruitful correspondences, discarding others (for now).

A collaborative manifesto-writing task produced something for the idea I am researching. I find it fascinating that the words of others could help me to draw together, tease out and name some of the principles behind a work that is, for now, a rough muddle in my head. Especially since, up to now it has existed as a kind of out-of-focus image‑gallery.

Adding to the manifestos accumulating on The Red Line, here is the current iteration:

 

Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1

Be a Host (ess).

Take care of the space. Make it inviting.

Bring sustenance for you and your guests.

Create a convivial environment in which connections can emerge, listening can take place and the impossible can be imagined.

Imagine the impossible.

 

Collect and assemble starting points or puzzles for your guests.

Guide your guests through mapping, describing and articulating.

Assemble and use ordinary objects that excite you/them.

Make your guests Protagonists.

Do what you want.

Do what they want.

 

Listen to The Smiths.

 

Take things apart and remake them.

Make visible your Guests chameleon-like nature – their thick-and-thin skinned-ness.

Make a record of the record.

 

Give meaning and hope to frustration and suffering.

Louise Bourgeois

 

Reading through the first few entries about this workshop on The Red Line I would also like to steal (borrow/try for size) from a fellow artist who attended the Test workshop. I adopt a second set of principles for this work from Re‑Manifesto.

 

Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1.1

I am an acrobat of time.

Space has no meaning.

I’m a healer.

 

Professional Development supported through South East Dance and Jerwood Charitable Foundation Dramaturg in Residence Programme 2016/17.

Published!

IJSC vol 4 cover

The International Journal of Screendance Volume 4 is now online, including my essay

“Cutting across the century: an investigation of the close up and the long-shot in “cine-choreography” since the invention of the camera.”

Really looking forward to some fascinating reading material!

Do have a look and let me know your thoughts.

 

“Pressed against the inside of the celluloid.”

(Thank you Ryan M. McKelvey).

With one week to go until my first performance of Portrait, there is still much to do. I am working on honing the content/ movement material for the second part of the performance.

A preview of the work yesterday at a feedback session brought up some exciting and rich references, including Yvonne Rainer’s Hand Movie of 1966, and Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening.

One of the ideas that has created the form for the second part of the performance is the reflection that in our current lives we are constantly trying to get into screens – to become the image inside the device. I find it interesting that early on in its history – before its role as a PR tool was really discovered – the photograph was considered an objective document and was used ‘scientifically’ for categorisation and cataloguing. Now, whilst we talk about ‘documenting’ our lives and our work, it is almost as if we are in a state of constant becoming inside of our devices, rather than living outside them. Perhaps, in this second part of Portrait, I am inside the device, trying to find out its limits, as Ryan suggested “pressed against the inside of the celluloid.”

Which brought up Jenny Saville’s wonderful work…

Closed Contact #8 1995-1996

Closed Contact #14

And the idea of the camera as a lifeline, as in the film 127 Hours.

Krapp’s Last Tape

I’ve just listened to Samuel Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape, a version broadcast on April 9th 2006 by Radio 3.  Krapp is performed by Corin Redgrave.

Every year on his birthday, Krapp, who is a writer, records a tape.  Krapp is making his sixty-nineth tape.  In the play we listen to the sixty-nine year old Krapp, and listen with him as he listens back to recordings from earlier birthdays.

I love how the structure of the play alludes to how we visit, and re-visit memories, how we change them, how our feelings about them change over time, or don’t, how they can become distant or instantly refreshed, holding a power and weight of meaning that surprises us.

I love how the mechanical noise of the tape spooling in the recorder marks the passing of time, like a clock.  And marks the passing of Krapp’s time.

In his introduction, the Radio 3 presenter Robbie Meredith says that Beckett had been inspired by listening to a tape recording of one of his own plays:

“Beckett became fascinated by the quality of recorded sound, the way it creates present history, and yet plays with time”