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Meanderings on Ecstatic

The title Ecstatic was inspired by a quote from Werner Hertzog: “after a deeper truth an ecstatic truth, balance in pictures – how can I get close to this? I can’t, but its okay to try. I’m looking for the deeper essential that defines us as human beings”

I find Herzog’s words “It’s okay to try” a license to try, and so my reverie on the word Ecstatic and its layers of meanings take me to the dictionary:

Ecstatic

1. Marked by or expressing ecstasy.
2. Being in a state of ecstasy, joyful or enraptured.

Rapture is the state of being transported by lofty emotion from one place to another…

Robin Close stood in the corner of the gallery, wearing lipstick and blue eye shadow, smartly dressed and in total silence – the almost glamorous silence interrupted by bursts of emotional stereo sound from his wide opening mouth. The bursts of emotion shook the seated stillness of the uncertain audience.

Does this define us as human beings? Is this the deeper essential? It is the beginning of the evening.

Rebekka Platt dances to the improvisational sounds of David Birchall, concentrated and intense movements on the rough gallery floor, fluid and sensitive; moments of collapse, breaking down and lifting up.

Rapture is the state of being transported from one place to another especially to heaven, a break through with upward movement.

What defines us as human, our deeper self, is it the self itself, a learning of the self, or selflessness?

Alice Malseed narrates us through her life story, and asks us to make statements about her, she says, “I want you to know about me. The people who I’ve met have made me this way. How will you define me? Come along and listen to me un-raveling the layers”. A deeply personal story she opens herself to be almost judged by the audience, sometimes judged badly, sometimes lofty statements about her inner being, and sometimes a little reading in between the lines when someone might just hear her personal ecstatic truth.

Alice’s un-raveling, and Rebekka’s moments of collapse and breaking down brings me to rupture:

Rupture:
1.
a. The process or instance of breaking open or bursting.
b. The state of being broken open.

2. A break in friendly relations.

Alice knows herself and her life well, and opens her life to the audience and to her self inviting new insights and for her personal to be touched, moved or uncomfortably broken by friends and strangers.

Is this an act of the self or selflessness? Can the two be separated, and can rapture or rupture exist without the other, are they in opposition or perfect harmony?

Nicola Singh skips to a metronome set to her collaborating artist’s heart beat, in an attempt to skip in time to his heart whilst melancholically singing “I am falling, falling..” for 45 minutes we watch as Nicola slowly falls, beautifully and poetically into exhaustion as she tries to keep up with the heart beat.

The absence of the other, apart from the ticking, connects two people across time and space, or transports one to another. I’m not sure if I’m watching Nicola herself or the heart beat of the absent other, a horizontal transcendence of self and other.

David McNab gracefully lights a red circle for Botticelli’s souls to float upwards in Dante’s Paradise, he sits in meditation posture in the red circle, and then stands up to light a spiral influenced by the notion of the 1000 petalled lotus. In an atmosphere of reverie the audience is guided into a state of translucent peace.

An end to the evening, seeking contemplation and self surrender into a spiritual truth beyond the intellect, the 1000 petalled lotus – not separate from the other performances, the audience float as I come back to the original question a little lighter than where I began:

“How can I get close to this? I can’t, but its okay to try”

This discourse was written by Becky Bowley to accompany Ecstatic – Part of the Compass: From West to North to East to South and Back an event held at Bloc Projects on Friday 6th May 2011.