Sweeping the Dance Studio- Maintenance as Movement

As part of the iLAB residency (Through Body, Through Earth, Through Speech), our group spent a week at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA where we shared our processes, developed activities, and generally spent time together. Near the end of the residency, we were asked to help out with Earthdance’s weekly cleaning. I had been thinking about maintenance before this- about the care of our bodies, our relationships to one another, and of our natural world. I signed up to clean the dance studios with a swiffer, a chore which is accompanied by a particular (humorous/boring) type of movement that might be juxtaposed with the more gestural/poetic/abstract types of movements that normally fill the volume of the space.

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Observation decks from the 1964/65 World’s Fair that used to overlook a giant map. View from below.

 

Since we’ve been back in NYC and working at the Queens Flushing Meadows Corona Park, we’ve had some interesting conversations about utopian ideals of the future in relationship to the architecture left over from the 1939/40 and 1964/65 World’s Fairs.

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Elevator shaft for the observation decks. View from ground level.

 

Our group was really attracted to the architecture that demonstrated a dated vision of the future that were now being taken over by plants, moss, and animals, eaten up by rain, sun, and wind. We talked about the conversations around restoring these structures, and how the most accurate image of their future would be ones where they are completely taken over by plants.

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Elevator cabins that used to take spectators up to the observation deck.

 

So it occurs to me that the future is always under maintenance. Not just the material production and sustainability, but also its imaginary.

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Here is the unisphere, the very iconic globe dedicated to peace that sits at the center of the park. Obviously emblematic of the international scope that these world’s fairs aspired to, images of this object seem to be interchangeable representations of the park.

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Holding up the world.

 

Here is a fellow that I caught posing as if he is holding all of the unisphere up. There are a few people on Flickr who have the same idea. Like Atlas, the Greek God who was required to hold the heavens on his back as punishment, we imagine acts of maintenance as tedious punishment. I wonder how we can reimagine them as play, as intellectually challenging, as worth our time, money, and energy as any imagined future might be.

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