Performative Space and the Construction of Place
Saarinen, Heidi Maaria
For the purpose of this research project, I have undertaken a series of practice-based approaches to examine how concepts of place may be created using film and performance. Through filmed excerpts of dance and movement work, and through the interaction with space, sites and landscapes, I have set out to determine differences, meaning and responses to place. As part of the process I have used the body as research tool, movement as interaction and film to record, document and analyze the process. Artists and practitioners in the 1970s New York dance and performance scene, such as dancers Yvonne Rainer, Tricia Brown and artist Gordon Matta-Clark have particularly inspired me. Ideas by these practitioners, based on fundamental interests derived from simple everyday routines and movements, developed into collaborations influenced by the socio-economic situation in the city at the time, becoming an important phase in performance. I have examined and linked some of the initial research to other artists, dancers and choreographers, such as Pina Bausch and then to my own practice as a spatial dance artist, with emphasis on dance and the use of space on a phenomenological level. Furthermore, I have explored place from the angle of a range of writers and philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, often connected to architecture and place. I have also researched Juhani Pallasmaa’s interest in sensory space, as well as Jane Jacobs’s explorations of the notion of place in the city. Thus, this thesis will investigate and analyse space and how, through interaction with space, through physical being or phenomenological approaches, space may transform into place. The thesis contends that it is interesting to see that phenomenology is a well-established discipline and has impacted on architecture. It is also interesting to discover that architects are aware of notions of sensory spatial engagement. My role is to rethink this from a dance and performance platform.