The great dictator (Christina Elias, video, 2023)
I am very happy to have my new video The Great Dictator (2023) in the SPACE DANCE exhibition 2023 curated by the Butoh artist Tetsuro Fukuhara (Japan). In the last decade, Fukuhara, in addition to traveling the world with the performance/installation Space Dance, has promoted my growth as an artist, as well as that of the others present at the exhibition, sharing his knowledge with us and promoting our production internationally.
I met Fukuhara in Rome in 2013, when I attended his workshop at the Duncan studio. Since then, I have been training my body-mind to be creative based on his movement method built into six phases: "Foundation", "Affordance", "Energy Beginning" or "Birth of the Feet", "Posture Creation", “Catharsis” and “End”.
Although this whole path deserves attention, in this brief post I will pay attention to the notion of affordance in Fukuhara's practice. In “Affordance”, an attempt is made to perceive the body as an object and not as a subject. The body is felt as a space of bones (bone space). Once this space of bones is detected, we move on to exploring the possible relationships of this space with other objects, other people or other spaces. Fukuhara borrowed the term affordance from James Gibson's theory in The senses perceived as perceptual systems (1966) and in The ecological approach to visual perception (1979). According to this theory, which, in turn, is part of Gestalt, the perception of the world does not occur only in terms of the shapes of objects and spatial relationships, but also through the perception of the possibilities of action that objects offer us. According to Gibson, the perception of the environment necessarily leads to some form of action. Affordances are clues that objects offer us about possible uses we can make of them. These cues are interpreted immediately and directly without sensory processing.
In Fukuhara, thinking about the very concept of affordance, it can be said that the body, felt as an object by the “user” or performer/artist, has the quality of allowing the same to intuit its use. It is about establishing interdependent relationships, not movement resulting from our own efforts. To train this form of perception, Fukuhara resorts to the built space (walls, floors, pilasters, windows, doors...), to the bodies of others, as well as, and mainly, to his own body. There are constant indications for provoking, with the use of objects, “strange” sensations in the body: walking and dancing with a boot on only one foot, the other barefoot; poorly fitting shoes so that they stick out from the feet; to tuck one arm into the shirt sleeve, etc. It's about looking for what gets in the way of the habit.
The understanding and incorporation of this notion of affordance structurally influences my creative process marked by a constant flow between body and object.
To see the full version of the video The Great Dictator (2023) as well as works by other artists who work based on Fukuhara's method, please access: