Self Portrait: Rashaun Mitchell
March 5, 2015
Each of the 12 artists in PLATFORM 2015: Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets received the following invitation from curator Claudia La Rocco to contribute a self portrait, of sorts, to the Platform 2015 publication. Here, Rashaun Mitchell shares his response.
a constellation of thoughts from the past summer
Pasts, Possibles and other Fictions
An astronomer once said there is no such thing as the present. As soon as we recognize a moment it has technically already happened.
That leaves us with the past and the dwindling future.
But this is not sad, because we can mentally time travel.Probably physically too, though I haven’t experienced it yet.
Sometimes we can retrieve specific memories. Sometimes they present themselves unaided. Many are too vivid and most are a blur. Is time a blur? Should we try to focus?
The entry for ‘memory’ in The Dictionary of Untranslatables states that “the past is both unknowable and available and this is what we might call the war of memories.”
Instincts are memories, transmitted genetically.
People tell me that I used to wear purple eye shadow to ballet class. I remember it as blue. Color is subjective. Was this the only thing I wore? I certainly wasn’t in ballet shoes. Maybe a cardigan. Was that a form of rebellion? My memory says no. Am I lying? Does ballet require instinct?
James Baldwin said, “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”
Should we look to the future? Should we try to escape? I like questions. They happen in the past and the future simultaneously.
The Dictionary of Untranslatables also states that, “Forgetfulness is the primary condition of poetic creation…it is a space of both transgression and freedom.”
To believe in time is to behave with intention. I forgot what I did after getting kicked out of ballet class. Did I eventually return because I knew I was destined to become a ballerina some day?
I have a friend who had a job as a color trend forecaster. She could see colors in the future.
In the future I will be more. I will be black and white. I will be genetically altered.
I like performers who multiply themselves, full of pasts, possibles and other fictions. Things left behind. Things that have not yet come to pass. Galadriel said that. I want dancers to claim everything, to bring eons to a moment.
James Waring made a ballet called Purple Moment. I haven’t seen it. It’s lost to memory. But it feels vivid in my mind. I feel like I know it. But this is an illusion. Feelings are illusions. I like illusions. They have an empowering energy. The promise of change and transformation or something like that. As a way of life this feels necessarily political. Definitely.
Waring says, “The nice thing about dancing is that everybody knows what it is. No definitions. When you can’t decide whether or not something you have seen is or is not dancing, it always is. So don’t worry.”