elsewhere and otherwise

pon., 13 cze 2020 

liebe agata,
my name is veronika blumstein. I live in southern california. such critical times here.  I’ve been gone for so long. how can I really know what’s happening there if I’m here and vice-versa.  

peter says we must connect.
i hear you are living in exile and making potent work in berlin.

shall we exchange?
veronika

* since 2006, karen schaffman channels the ghost of veronika blumstein. veronika braves the world dis/order by magnifying dance as a path for experiential transformation. together, karen and veronika imagine and weave historical docu-fictions of traumatic histories into choreographic possibilities.

** veronika blumstein emerged in 2005 during an international exchange between artists in the small village of jagniatkow (poland). funded by the german kulturstiftung des bundes. a group of international-european dancers, choreographers, and theoreticians gathered for a 2-week residency in an attempt to break boundaries beyond national and aesthetic differences. After conflicting ideas inhibited critical dialogue, three of the participants (kattrin deufert, thomas plischke, and pawel gozlinksi) turned to the local church’s patroness st. veronika in hopes that she might rattle the direction of the research. veronika blumstein was conceived, a jewish child who miraculously survived the European holocaust. veronika seized the artists’ imaginations as a vehicle for creative research.

* * *

june 13, 2020

liebe veronika,
forgive that i am responding just now. my internet access got cut, my mobile was confiscated as well as my belongings. i spent last 48 hours at the police station. long story.

i am extremely tired, i have a vertigo in my head. i feel a sweat on my t-shirt though i took a shower three times today. i can’t be a good companion for you today.

my make-up is falling from my face.

till soon, dear veronica
agata agata agata*

* agata siniarska is an imaginary character with many talents and a criminal past. She is interested in fiction as a useful instrument for imagining other, possible, future worlds and, hence how it can affect the world today.

* * *

pon., 14 cze 2020 

liebe agata agata agata,
shit. no need to apologize…i sensed your dis/appearance into the critical conditions.

did the police touch you? 

did they “handle” you? 

push you to ground?

handcuff you? 

feed you? 

were you in a cell? 

with whom? 

what happened?

did they take fingerprints?

do you already have a record? 

with love,
veronika

* * *

june 14, 2020

liebe veronika,
no, the police didn’t touch me. i am to the certain degree untouchable. my grandmother and my grandfather were working for KGB for many years, during the cold war.

my grandfather died at the beginning of the 70ties, the official information was that he committed suicide. as i said, it is an ‘official’ information.

being a granddaughter of the KGB spy makes me untouchable but kept under control thus sometimes the police, for no reason invades my house and takes me to the station. i got used to these procedures.  all my family is on the list of the ‘potential danger’, i have no right to enter united states, my children probably will not see the statue of liberty either. i have never been to united states. i will never see california.

my mother just sent me the present for childrens day, of course it was opened, checked, scanned, etc. there were just leather gloves and for the state it means ‘danger’. many members of my family is/was involved in the arts, that was the best cover for the espionage. when i decided to be a dancer, my grandmother hugged me very strongly and whispered to my ears: ‘you are going to be excellent in this job’. she understood that i am going to continue the tradition of working for secret service. i was trying to explain her that i really want to be an artist. till her death she was hoping i have a double life…

tell me how did you start to dance?

when did you start to dance?

why did you choose it or how did it chose you?

love,
agata

* * *

pon., 15 cze 2020 

dear agata,
right. there, KGB privilege. here, you and I, we can pass untouchable far more because we’re white. I’m glad you came out of a police exchange unharmed and alive.  seems the government has evolved.

you ask if dancing chose me?  I started to dance when I was lulled by “graj skrzypku, graj!.” This song played in our kazmierz apartment when my family reunited in 1946.  My parents held me between them – very tight – while they wept and danced to polish tango in the small kitchen.

There was only folk dancing allowed during the time of the “people’s republic.” I didn’t like the verticality of the movement, and the shoes were horrible – so I took up gymnastics with spherical tumbling and bare feet.  dancing as a force in my life emerged later, after I arrived in nyc in 1968.

oh agata, your grandmother’s whispers and embraces. I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather.

oh agata, art and espionage. double danger. tell me more about how dance is your weapon?  yesterday i heard your dialogue on dance is a weapon tv: “on totentanz, dying and undead.”   tell me why and when you began dancing? and tell me how you dance?

with love – for love, for the dead, for the living,
veronika

* * *

june 15, 2020

dear veronika,
i don’t remember why and when i started to dance. i always wanted to be an architect. i wanted to create spaces for people and between people. it turned out that dance and choreography is not that far from this idea. i place my choreographic practice in a deep interconnectedness between how do we think about the world and how we move through it. it is a place of intersection of somatics and politics – the place where bodily perception meets social engagement – between the somatic landscapes and the environmental landscapes, between the bodies of humans and non-humans.

since few years i am tracing the movement of the entangled contemporary world wrought by climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, oil spills, and the environmental aftermath of war. i am looking at this chain of dependencies from the choreographic perspective, analyzing the movement of our activities and our connections, to gain an ecological awareness through dance practice, asking questions how dance can contribute to the ecological debate, how the ecological processes can be addressed through the performer’s body, what kind of knowledge can we access through the dancing body, how and through which choreographic strategies can i make the violence detectible.

dance is my ‘weapon’ – this sentence comes from my dear friend and comrade, kasia wolinska. i understand the strength of the word ‘weapon’ – there is a fight inscribed in it. I usually say ‘tool’ but I wish to think of it as a ‘bag’, like in ursula le guin’s a carrier bag theory of fiction. Do you know this text?

sending you love from berlin,
agata