Ordinary Pleasures was a one-week workshop dedicated to exploring bodily knowledge. Led by Barbara Müller in November 2018, we developed a collection of everyday experiences we bodily remember through workshops with Claire van Rhyn, visiting Stuart Carey’s ceramics studio and making dumplings, finishing with a collective exhibition resulting from the week’s work.
With Van Rhyn we practiced a series of movement exercises, influenced by choreographic thinking, as collaborative improvisation methods to explore the memory of gestures, and their imprint in our bodies. We explored our communication in a constrained space through our movements, interactions, spontaneous choreography, and proximity to the other. We could say we embodied a microscopic landscape of Pierre Bordieu’s habitus.
How are our bodies an archive of tacit knowledge? We exchanged descriptions of how we recall experiencing certain movements, and how the empire of signs, as Barthes narrated during his travels in Japan, consolidates an aesthetic memory in our bodies.
Whilst experiencing Müller’s Slicing Jelly performance piece, I began to explore the theme of sharing pleasure, and the extrapolation of recreating objects through embodied memory.
We curated a collection of our group’s simple everyday objects in an immersive exhibition, passing on our bodily knowledge to our visitors through immediate experiences.
My piece, Sharing Ordinary Pleasures, gathered found objects chosen through the pleasures of sight and touch from a fabric shop in Shepherd’s Bush, and a haptic display of materials in which to write: foil, cotton paper, cotton fabric, bubble wrap. I wanted to ask what happens when we write to someone, unexpectedly, to share a pleasant experience, an everyday gesture we enjoy. The aim of the piece was also to share the physical space of sitting down to write to someone, including the intimate time dislocated from the distance between that moment and the experience of the recipient. Some people wrote to specific recipients, some others just wrote an address on an envelope, others wrote messages without a specific recipient.
I wondered what would people share as an intimate everyday experience of enjoyment with someone, and wondered how adding the surprise mail-posting could add another value. Can we vicariously experience a nuanced ordinary pleasure when shared?
“Go outside and look at the moon”, someone wrote.
The performative piece shared the intimacy of writing, maintaining privacy for the letter writer if desired, all the while trying to communicate through the materials and words with someone else. Replicating the moment of encounter with the object with the recipient was part of the feeling of during the experience. There was shared pleasure in the expressivity of the chosen material, the handwriting, and the uncertainty of knowing if it would arrive to its destination. Would the readers relate to that small object in the same way that we did? Will they explore their bodily memory and pleasures through such a small act?
24 letters were posted.
This workshop was part of the Across RCA projects 2018.