In her film, artist Georgia Gardner reflects on her experience of learning and participating in movement workshops via Zoom, and how the transition from physical space to a virtual one creates new selves and connections.
Please note that this piece was designed to be experienced as a film. However, for those who are unable to access it in this form, a transcript of Georgia’s words has been provided below.
Dance – Alone – Together: Relational Presence in Post-Proximity Days
March 2020: I missed the accidental friendships, the circumstantial friendships, and the friendships in gesture that I had built over the previous year. I thought that I would just accept that I wouldn’t see the friends that create a map across the city, points of reference for memories and those conversations you didn’t know that you needed. I thought, I would be fine without going to the studio, that I would be fine with my own four walls in the place of theirs, and their voices, coming out the speakers in my laptop. This digital presence will fulfil my longing for points of contact that punctuate my week without me noticing.
And, for a while, in these post-proximity days, it did. I practiced with them every day, sometimes twice, and I wrote to myself, in my diary which is now not a sentimental object, with a life, but a relic of mixed emotion. I was writing to myself – in the future? – but I wasn’t. I was writing what I would have been saying between classes, I was sharing thoughts that would usually neutralise in movement. But now I feel their weight, I feel the sensitivity that the pedestrian symbolises and that suppression engenders.
Dance – alone – together
Movement classes: spatial and two-dimensional; the disembodied gaze of the zoom camera; the non-sensual guidance of the teacher; the formation of a studio, equipped with artefacts of moments of this indoor life; the continuation of practice and preparation, forging a reason beyond restlessness, or the need for distraction; seeking pleasure; ignoring the scaffolders outside my window.
I am grateful now for the few objects of furniture, for my previous attempts to escape the overwhelming nature of waiting objects. I moved my bed, my desk, my lamp. My floor now empty forms my studio, in the place of the objects that signalled a life lived in situational plurality, I put down a yoga mat, and encouraged my tripod to be a barre.
It is both a non-specific friendship of collectivity, the knowledge of others around me, the comfort that sharing space, touch, and air once brought – now unimaginable. But it is also a friendship specific to action, a togetherness of situation, shared intent, and wishes of wellness. The distance that is now not only in between but also during, poses a challenge, an invitation. It highlights requited information, contact not before needed: Surnames, emails, phone numbers.
Dance – alone – together
Both sides are spatially inhabiting a mirrored inequality, diametrically opposing, traversing two-dimensionality and full presence. Both of us inhibited in communication and movement, the rectangular frame dictated by my laptop and your camera alike, and my room that I ask to transform, my neighbours that ideally would quieten, my thinking that I ask to still, for me to close my eyes, to forget the distance between us and elevate a temporal connection instead. We share time in each others’ motion.
These friendships bound by situational movement and subsequent candour now extend beyond usual limits, permeating personal, professional, and virtual selves. Not purely the situationally specific selves that first met.
Dance – alone – together.
About Georgia Gardner
Georgia Gardner is a Scottish student in her fifth year of a Master’s of Fine Art at The Edinburgh College of Art. Georgia’s art practice is performance-based, converging choreographic and social organisation. Her performances reframe choreography as the intersection of subconscious habit, intention, and social ritual, navigating performative and introspective selfhoods. Her art practice and art historical studies exist in direct conversation, researching performance and dance histories and prioritising pluralised subjectivities. See more of Georgia’s work at https://georgiagardner.com/ and follow her on Twitter @__GeGardner and Instagram @_georgia_gardner
This piece was commissioned for Disembodied Voices: Friendship during COVID-19
How we think of friendship, intimacy and closeness has radically altered during this period, perhaps irrevocably. Lockdown and quarantine has left us relishing time with friends and family, or dealing with feelings of isolation, anxiety and abandonment. WhatsApp, Zoom and social media are our new lifelines, changing the tone, register and channels through which we communicate. We’ve reached out to old friends and been turned away by new ones; rekindled old bonds and discarded others. There are friends who inspire and those who infuriate; there are relations we’ve failed and some who’ve come through for us, and shown love in a way we’ve never experienced before.
We want to curate a series of essays, interviews and stories on friendship, experienced during the time of COVID-19. We are keen to hear from marginalised perspectives, underrepresented voices and communities significantly impacted by the virus.
We are also open to submissions and pitches on the representation and concept of friendship more generally. How friendship is represented on television, film, and social media; in books, music and videos, before and during the pandemic, is also important. Are there representations of friendships that have given you hope (such as I May Destroy You or Broad City) or those that have appeared toxic to you (such as that recounted by Natalie Beach about Caroline Calloway). If so, we want to hear from you too.
For the full Call Out and details of how to apply, click here.
Submissions are open until the end of February 2021.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Aysha Abdulrazak and Samaya Kassim, Guest Editors of Disembodied Voices.