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Listening: On the Architecture of Aging,
La Romieu, France 2017

ARTIFACTS (Pam Patterson and Leena Raudvee)

Description: Two chairs are placed on the road side. Fields stretch out on either side. We walk together along the road arriving at these chairs; we lay a white sheet on the roadway between the chairs. We sit silently with questions before us – each question acts as an invitation – for us and our viewers - to participate. Evocative questions with no clear answers:

Is it the house, the closed doors, the logic of windows that define us?
All those corners and straight lines, are they flaming?
Or are our forms maps across which move arrows and dotted lines?
Do we rise from our chairs pulling against gravity?
Clumsiness and fright, are they inevitable?
Do we deny the ground we stand on?

Sitting in the chairs, we open up the space for reflection. A cell phone rings, we answer, we stand up, fold up the sheet and walk on.

Precursor actions: lying on the sheet beside one another, walking across the sheet, sitting facing away from the sheet….. each action is performed at the same time each day over five days. Locations can change.

Listening: On the Architecture of Aging is an investigation as performance, an inquiry and reflection with audience. Our interest has been over the past few years in the creative use, and transgressive potential of, non-institutional spaces, the spaces in between and outside of the conventional settings where women’s bodies leak out of the cracks, walk on, and make a mark – the scuff of a foot, the shift of gravel. We, as women, exist as a presence - perhaps intangible and ill-defined but certainly energetic, active, and persistent - in culture and in society. This performance explores not only presence but absence as contemporary site (sight). How can we define, and engage with, the limitations and potentials of physical, temporal and theoretical space? Our strategies are designed to activate vectors, as we walk, of activity and/or, as bodies, limited by disability and age, contained by/in cultural and historical structures.

When does the path we walk on lock around our feet?
When does the road become a river with only one destination?
Death waits for us in Samarra?
But can Samarra be avoided?

"The Appointment in Samarra"
(as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])
There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. “The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw Death standing in the crowd and he came to Death and said, “Why did you make a threating gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture”, Death said. “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

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