Anna Riley-Shepard työskenteli syyskuun ajan Pirkanmaan Tanssin Keskuksen järjestämässä Haihara residenssissä Liikelaiturilla sekä Haiharan kartanossa. Neurotieteilijä, sosiaali – ja ympäristöstrategisti sekä tanssitaiteilija Riley-Shepard työskenteli Rewilding The Body – Kehon villiinnyttäminen konseptinsa parissa. Hän työskenteli neljän viikon ajan eri teemojen parissa vierailevien taiteilijoiden kanssa. Rewilding The Body liiketutkimus käsittää ympäristön villiinnyttämisen tekniikoita, queer teoriaa sekä psykologiaan perustuvia somaattisia menetelmiä, jotka aktivoivat sisäistä villiinnyttämistä.

Lue Annan ajatuksista residenssityöskentelystä:

Reflection on Rewilding The Body at Haihara Residency

September 2022 Artist-in-residence, Tampere, Finland

Rewilding The Body is maker Anna Riley-Shepard’s movement research project. The work unites environmental rewilding techniques, queer theory, and psychology-based somatic practices to trigger an inner wilderness that does not depend on an “othered” natural world. She is developing both a solo performance for the stage and a shareable social practice.

The birches murmured their first tinges of yellow when I landed in Tampere on September 1st. By September 10th the maples joined them, blushing ochre, rainbow, dappled. By the 20th they burst, exploding, fanfaring their farewell to chlorophyll. By September 30th, as I left, they released their colors to the winter wind and the decomposers.

I start here with the leaves instead of with my project because there is a certain ineffability to movement research into wildness, into acclimating the body for dialogue with the living world. Words, the marker of the rational human, seem like clunky, impotent things that fail to grasp the essence of what has happened. But here it goes anyway.

The leaves changed and my body changed. Four seasons seemed to pass in four weeks. The directors of Pirkanmaan Tanssin Keskus welcomed me to Haihara Arts Center for my residency. They made me feel at home in an amply endowed red cabin, two studios – one an urban black box where imagination reigned, the other an airy pavilion where the encircling trees did – on the surrounding forest grounds, and in the streets downtown. They gave me the space and time to steep in my artistic process. Made this feel valuable. Supported my collaborators in music and dance. Brought together the local community so I could share my ideas. Let me work.

The first week, I worked with exhaustion. I entrained my body to the BPM of hardcore techno and pushed until my neural control networks gave in. With mastery deactivated, I disintegrated my layers: skin, fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones dispersed as dust in an antigravity chamber. At a certain point I became a black hole. At a certain point, I became a dove.

The second week, I worked with somatic deconstruction. I gave each body part its own agency, its own magnetic forces of attraction and repulsion. I let them jostle, felt my ego jostle back in protest before it died. Before it succumbed to randomness. At a certain point I was both there and not there, was both matter and relationship. At a certain point I was just one more infinitesimal part of a constellation that flowed together like soft chains.

The third week, I worked with extreme slowness, with moving my awareness through my body at the timescale of my breath. If you move slow enough, I discovered, you can take it all in as you go. When you truly sense everything, there is no time for preconceptions or decisions. There is no goal. No destination. No arrivals. You exist somewhere after attention and before consciousness, in a timeless place where each breath is a moment and each breath is an ice age. At a certain point, I became liminal, quantum, indeterminate. At a certain point, the music got inside me, and her voice hung me from a fishhook.

The last week, I worked with queering binaries. I let Google Images define the stereotypical poles of identity and embodied them, stepping in and out, confident that my body remained an ever-evolving ecosystem beneath the surface. I asked: how do we position a rewilded body within a society that is still not ready to witness it? We morph and snap, leak and melt, subverting any expectation. We submit ourselves to being read, only to become unreadable. At a certain point, I felt so naked I could cry. At a certain point, I realized that we’ll always have each other’s backs.

The leaves changed and my body changed and now it is coming on December and I am still thankful. Thank you to Maija, Emma, and Salla from Pirkanmaan Tanssin Keskus, Tapio from Haihara, my collaborators Lana Harris, Maciej Beczek, Skip Rosamilia, Teresa Santos, Claire Dickson, and Fernanda Gonzales Morales, and my partner Jelten. I can only end by saying that this is just the beginning. I am thrilled to continue this research in the new year, for all the adventures to come, and to keep rewilding the body.