From Observer to Participant: Reflections on the Triplealice Experience

By Harrison, Kristina | About Performance, January 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

From Observer to Participant: Reflections on the Triplealice Experience


Harrison, Kristina, About Performance


There is an exercise within the Body Weather Groundwork training which is an investigation of the embodiment of the elements; fire, water, air and earth. Sitting in front of my computer, on a breezy, salty, summer Sydney night pondering over the TripleAlice project, it is at first extremely daunting to know where to begin writing about the experience, due to its enormity and my distance from that place/space. However, on a visceral level my body memory can clearly relate to this Body Weather exercise and I can perhaps summarise these three journeys to the desert as a building of a body with these elements: Triple Alice 1 -Earth (3 weeks, September-October 1999), TripleAlice 2-Water (10 days November 2000), and TripleAlice 3-Fire (3 weeks, September-October 2001).

EARTH

Laying the Skeleton

I think when you first reach the Centre, especially flying there where the reality of your journey and the terrain that has been crossed is somewhat all in a blur, the thing that strikes you so strongly is the power of the land in which you are now standing. It seems to resonate on a vibrational level internally. And the space, the feeling of expansion demands you surrender yourself to it, let your molecules expand with the heat and diffuse out into the environment.

Observing your condition and emptying the body are imperative parts of the Body Weather process, which allows you to create and explore atmospheres and environments within the landscape of the body. In my experience, much of TripleAlice 1 was spent dealing with this process of emptying, exposing our bare bones and the bare bones of the project itself. We began a process of surrender to that place and, moreover, started to notice the tracks of our skeletons in this land.

I was introduced to Tess de Quincey and Body Weather training in 1999, the year TripleAlice kicked off, and was bewildered and excited to be invited to complete my Performance Studies honours placement out in the centre of Australia, as part of the documentation crew for TripleAlice 1. Having been part of an eight-week Body Weather workshop with Tess earlier in that year and remembering fragments of primary and high school colonial Australian history, I equipped myself with romantic, red earthed, exotic dreams of a Bohemian experience in the heart of my homeland. Boy, was I in for a shock!

Walking out of Alice Springs airport just fours hours after leaving what was a cool, brisk Sydney morning, I was blinded by the extremely penetrating sun, which was already gnawing at my skin, as was too the blanket of flies. The land was a deep orange red and the trees were bare, black and scarred, fitting so far the image of the desert that I had brought with me. As we drove out of town towards Hamilton Downs, an old abandoned cattle station cum youth camp where we were staying, the vegetation became wilder and the prominence of the sky, its colour and contrast to the earth left me awestruck.

On arriving at camp, I observed the Body Weather laboratory in full swing already on the first day of the three weeks. Down on the riverbed a group of about 40 participants gathered around Tess, listening to her instructions for the next Groundwork exercise and then rushed past me to get notebooks and pens. I set up my tent, went to the equipment and crew area, passing the web co-ordinators, Laura Jordan and Michael Sehiavello, who were dealing with a stack of computers which had crashed due to the afternoon heat; this would become a daily debacle. The kitchen was a steamy hive of activity, four macrobiotic chefs working hard to prepare the evening meal and in conversation regarding the refrigeration difficulties! And nearby administration co-ordinators working out the logistics of further pick-ups of people and supplies. Tents littered the area surrounding the homestead and bunkhouse, and within the bunkhouse it was hard to discern if there were any more free beds, though it was common knowledge that there were many more people who were still to join us. …

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