From the depths of my future, throughout the whole of this absurd life I’d been leading, I’d felt a vague breath drifting towards me across all the years that were still to come, and on its way this breath had evened out everything that was then being proposed to me in the equally unreal years I was living through.
Camus, The Outsider, p 115
A tabula rasa was a wax tablet used for inscription in Roman times. When full, it was heated, smoothed over and readied again for reuse. In this performance Cecilia White reflects on this asking… What happened to those marks, thoughts, names? Did the heat smooth away or ingrain some memory of experience and feeling into those tablets? And the wax? What origins did it carry into that first space? For we know that wax is scented, transportable, natural. The tabula rasa seems to have carried both experience and nature – yet this very paradox fills our conversations, our studies, our excuses. Are we a tabula rasa, that debate of nature or nurture? In what condition do we arrive and how do we continue our journey? Like the body remembering to breathe, what is remembered, released, revealed? Who else may see what we sense?
Inspired by Shakepeare’s ‘Macbeth’ this ‘breathing space’ performance enters the (dis)locations of mind and matter. Cecilia White holds a mirror, installed literally, to our negotiation of existence and (re)actions in landscapes of ephemeral paradox. Like the breath, the ‘wax’ and wane of life, nothing is ever the same, yet somehow it remains deeply familiar. It is that fleeting sense of shift, alteration, temperature, (dis)repair. In each moment, what self we may be, we may not be again. That may haunt us, as memories and sensations can. And if we are haunted by our lives, perhaps we simply cannot be alone, in open space within ourselves. And without our selves, there may be noone else. What can be released to achieve ‘breathing space’? In release, what is revealed?
Within the body of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Cecilia White brings three bodies to air that space of reflection, breaking open sound, knowledge, memory. That is the nature of things. Each artist nurtures a space for resettlement, otherness and connection. You are invited to sense the space for your (tabula) self and any others who may enter. Perhaps in this way we really are each others’ breath.
Cecilia White Australia (text, voice, body)
Tan Boon Ping Singapore/Malaysia (clarinet)
Christopher Allan Australia (voice)
The 2nd Performers’ Voice Symposium
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory
National University of Singapore
28 October 2012