Rhiannon Newton

This is a conversation – a kind of expanded conversation. Spanning many months, many voices and locations and situations.

A conversation with many listeners, listeners-in and thoughtful commentators. A conversation occasionally silenced by absence, technology and the need to no longer speak.

At this moment I speak by myself and attempt to gather, say or add something to this conversation – something of what it has been – from this place in the body – of the body of a conversation.

I imagine this conversation as having its own kind of mass. A kind of weighty spread out body that holds all of us, but hovers somewhere in the zones of distance between. A vast and tangled body – one that knows about dance, these times and these places. A body, not so much authored by us, as by these places and these times. A meeting of conditions – perhaps – hyper personal but unable to be touched. Like walking with Gade to the gate and Eisa to the sea.

So, thinking with this body of the body of a conversation – maybe we can think of this conversation as:

  • Its own kind of infrastructure
  • A site of endless growth, hyper-mobility and temporary bases
  • As something that is disintegrating, changing and clearly different to what it was
  • As what is already happening – that is already contemporary.

Or we might think of this conversation as:

  • A desire path I create
  • Or financial capital, symbolic capital, or social capital
  • Or as a globalised, colonised,
    individualised, internet corporation
  • As relational
  • As made of land, ground, and physical identities.
  • Or we might think of it as the surface of a body of water

Or, we might say this conversation has certain needs. That it needs:

  • A common or consensual language
  • To be rescued from dance
    (or, rescued in dance)
  • Or, in precision

Or we might understand this conversation needs: To be rooted in and aligned with space. Like the movement toward a well, thoughts journey and gather in places of shared concern.

Remembers, that the shaman was the first dancer – and dance is a conversation that connects the spirit to the body. We are in a conversation that translates the world, in a practice of translating the world. And while we can no longer remember, it began in chanting and shaking Because conversation knows no separation between the performer and audience, the body of the body of a conversation is knowledge inhabited and practiced. It links the thinking that happens between two people – as a kind of object/body that floats between them.

Because the stuff conversations are made of – is the stuff we pay attention to. As there is no such thing as matter, or the matter of this conversation, just a gymnastics of intention, of intention awareness, darting there while staying here, in the middle of a conversation, matter-less, but driven by the energy of being in-conversation:

  • Thoughts slide out from underneath me
  • As a bird cuts through the outside
  • There is no such thing as matter – touching the thick heaviness of my back
  • From this point in the house there is partial vision of the universe, a glimpse of everything happening together at the same time.

Because conversation is maybe a last effort that connects us, that connects us into place – and into each other:

The linearity of performance loses its logic in this back and forth of thinking together. Narrative arrives with hindsight. We follow a dream logic and begin to connect the fragments of the collage of conversation. So process comes to the fore – from underneath the skin stretched over the body, its edges loosened off. A cultivation toward a still fluid.

The body of the conversation feels itself as the surface of a body of water. As a network traveling beneath the soil, pulsing here and sending there.

Expanding and extending in surface and dimension, the analogue of the real connects beyond itself as the technological as flesh. More post-human than real, more immortal than any of us alone. This is a network of conversation – long abstracted. It touches in the sphere of bodies made of language, made of language made of alphabets – and alphabets made of ones and zeros. A memory of the future arrives with us here in the future.

Pulsing there, while sending here in a premonition of a future. Like holes and portholes, earthly entry points and hiding places – the conversation authors’ interactions that penetrate across the interface.

We might think of the cybernetic organism-conversation, as a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as fiction (Haraway, 1985). Like “…when I stood up from the plastic chair I realised it had indented me. A bright red crease cut across the width of my back thighs”.

The body-conversation is a creature simultaneously animal and machine, populating worlds ambiguously natural and coded, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality (Haraway, 1985).

Because situating in the work is a conversation that involves connection and participation, intimacy and participation, expectation and openness, risk and trust.

A terra-forming of the body of the body of a conversation. Where the resources we use are the resources we have. Our community, each other, we hold a process in conversation and author conversations as a process. And this perspective is always anchored in a specific position, one that gains access to a certain worldview shaped in the tradition of the body. Because the body-in-place, slows and stays with place – and where the body is in place we start authoring a different conversation – one that speaks from the body where it is in place. A wide conversation rooted and tethered in place, in many places in place that change as they do in place.

Voice Recording The Body Of A Body Of A Conversation

Rhiannon’s artistic work draws attention to ecofeminist understanding of bodies as inextricably entangled with the environment. Growing up in Dunghutti land (Kempsey) and working in Gadigal land (Sydney), Rhiannon contributes to the community and culture through creation, performance, collaboration, teaching and curation. She leads the artist-run venue, ReadyMade Works and the lecture-performance series, Talking Bodies. Her recent projects include Explicit Contents (Sydney Festival 2021); Long Sentences (Liveworks Sydney 2020, Baltic Circle Festival Helsinki 2019); Place Without Form (Trois C-L Luxembourg 2019); Choreographed Readings (Dance Massive Melbourne 2019) and We Make Each Other Up (Dancehouse Melbourne 2018).