Naomi Washer

i & the branches entwined


Contextual Statement

i & the branches entwined is a site-specific movement improvisation. The video was filmed in Wunder’s Cemetery on the north side of Chicago in February, 2018.

Site-specific movement improvisation is a deep engagement with the relationship between space, landscape, architecture, light, temperature, and the body; space becomes not merely a location but an active partner. You have to listen to what is being asked to be framed within the site. You have to get inside it and get out of your own way at the same time.

A site-specific improvisation is the closest one can get in movement to placing oneself inside a poem—all superfluities fall away as one focuses with a heightened attention. The work begins in framing and shaping, in carving out the image away from unrelated extremities.

In the case of this video, the unrelated extremities included the cemetery groundskeeper, driving around in his van, waiting to kick us out when the cemetery closed; the blended sounds of cars and elevated trains in rush-hour traffic; and a group of individuals dressed in black, some yards away from us, digging a ditch and lowering a body into the ground.

And yet these elements cannot be unrelated to the creation of the work. They are present in my movement; they inform the shape and pace of my movement, even if they are not heard or seen.

My movement work is poiesis: the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before. If poiesis is a striving for immortality, if it engages with the temporal cycle of birth and decay; if a group of individuals lower a body into the ground at the same moment that I engage my body in an act of physis, of bringing-forth, an unfolding of a thing out of itself, then perhaps it is possible to achieve that state of meta-poiesis: resisting nihilism by reconciling my body, the body that I have, with the level of transcendence it can reach.

Naomi Washer is a writer and dancer working in cross-genre and multimedia forms. Her work has appeared in The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, & Thought, Homonym, con•textThe Boiler, Split Lip Magazine, Blue Mesa Review, and other journals. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and Columbia College Chicago where she earned her MFA in Nonfiction. She is also a graduate of Bennington College in Dance, Theatre, and Literature and her performance works have been produced with companies in Chicago and New England. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Ghost Proposal.