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Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Études

23 September 2020 – 1 January 2021

Étude No.1

Étude No.2

Étude No.3

Text

Something about grasping.

See: The desire to grasp, to understand or to comprehend, with permanence. The fruitlessness of this motion. The performance of such a gesture, the naivety of trying to hold in place for any period of time, knowledge or knowledges. [1]

Also: Grasping, my Grandmother’s hand, safely, finally, after a period of time where it seemed it might not be possible. The slow wait we all have experienced, broken by an impermanent moment of another’s hand in mine. Of my hand in hers. The shift from something experienced by many to this moment, and then intimately between two. I am here bringing mention of family, something usually separated from, into the same space as my work; writing; working with you, becomes public. 

I can’t say exactly why these two things have come together in this writing, however momentary,

but I feel it might have something to do with the space of my home becoming the host of conversations of all different kinds these past few months – amongst family, amongst friends, amongst those with whom one works. We were accustomed to these transitory moments from one world to another; a train journey from one part of ourselves to another; a commute from home to office. It remains that our homes have become host to conversations and moments of intimacy that are usually separated if not by walls and boundaries, then by time and space.

*

I am re-reading notes from when we thought this might take place physically. There are notes on the future-evening-prior, the repertoire of materials that would have been gathered, there are arrows directing me to reading material, further planning, groups to whom this activity might be of interest. It seemed, with half a year between me writing these notes and the night itself that they were cut short, in infancy.

Underlined there is creating performative conditions and I remember us thinking about the other agents within what became these études [2]. Not only you, who is setting into motion the relations between these materials, people and spaces. But also the dancer, the movements of muscle, straining and holding, and the material, their inability to act exactly as expected, their propensity to unfurl and unfold, sometimes in slow moments and sometimes in quick ones – in a clatter, a bang. 

Over these past months there has been a need for us to reconsider. Conversations like the ones we have been having are expected to migrate and grow nebulously and take unruly turns. The relationships between so many people and things have shifted and now we are viewing something ongoing, in progress, which you described to me through the paradigm of two processes. In the first process, S assumes a position. You then would build around, through, or with that position. Eventually this unfolding would come to an end and removal would begin, leaving S alone. The second process began with you building the beginning of an arrangement. S would then insert himself within this arrangement, and the silent, physical building-dialogue would continue. Weaving amongst both of these processes of testing, the making of these studies, sketches, études, is something more alive than that.

I have this phrase, more alive than that, written in my diary on the day we spoke on the phone, the word static crossed out underneath it, scored through with a dramatically flourishing line. I was in my garden and you in your studio, it was the first day of hot sun after weeks of humid rain. What the that refers to I am still not certain, memory has fogged the specificity of the phrase. But I don’t think verification is important here. Again, it is something ungraspable.

Looking back, leafing through notes in various black notebooks in front of me, my laptop facing me, the études performing themselves within its frame, limbs stretching and pausing on the screen, breath lightly raising and lowering torsos, with branches and foliage weighing down upon shoulder blades, hips and waist, I find myself getting an idea of what the more alive than that is, or at least, what a new conception of it is. Material intimacies that linger between bodies, limbs, assemblage, the proximities between them shifting and altering under the hand of the artist or the eye of the camera, but also their relations to one another. The botanical matter heaves breaths, lines of metal and plastic resist solidification, they don’t set. They shift.

This spirit, embodied in the formal quality of these études, also marks their own reason for being here. These are not intended as a finality, as the result of conversations that have ended. Relationships between institutions and artists inherently have an end, contracted and dated, signed, officiated. But the relationships between those whose ideas have been furthered by conversation, shared interest, support and intimate belief in attempts at unfolding such complexities together, continues to unfold. And unfold. And unfold. These moments are not a response to an invitation I extended to you over a year ago, they are yet another invitation in and of themselves.

Seán Elder, 2020

[1] Glissant, E., 1997. Poetics Of Relation. Translated by Wing, B., Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

[2] Étude: (French) A study, or practice, a piece of research