Failure of the Sign is the Sign (2013)

Failure of the Sign is the Sign explores the moment of learning to speak as an iconic transition to selfhood. As we learn to speak, we also separate from our mother.  This is a moment both of schism and individuation—an archetypal transition. In the work, dancers collide sounding and moving. Voiceover text features Mohr's poetry, keyed to the alphabet and written from the dual perspective of mother and daughter. Visual artist Katrina Rodabaugh designed the "extraordinary" (S.F. Weekly) set of soft sculptures. Inspired by the internal landscape of the body (the major organs, thoughts, dreams, and a child’s fantasies about physical location) the work began with anatomical drawings of the major organs then turned into soft sculpture. Each major organ is represented–brain, intestines, liver, lungs, heart, spleen, thyroid, stomach, and pancreas–while tree branches held the lighting instruments for the performance. 

Core creative questions:
What is the relationship between moving and sounding?
How can the concept of transition organize my raw materials (dance phrases and forms)?
How can the set function as both metaphor and responsive environment for the dance(rs)?

“[L]anguage starts with a negation of loss….‘I have lost an essential object … (my mother),’ is what the speaking being seems to be saying. ‘But no, I have found her again in signs, or rather since I consent to lose her I have not lost her…I can recover her in language.”   -Julia Kristeva

“[Sound is] [m]eaning from inside the body which does not pass through the control point of logos, a meaning which is not subject to the mechanism of dissociation … or self-control.” –Anne Carson

“There was a certain thing I did not get from my mother
There is a lack a gap a void
But in its place she has given me something else
Something I would argue that is far more valuable
She has given me the way out”   -Alison Bechtel

Dancers: James Graham, Tegan Schwab, Roche Janken, Katharine Hawthorne, Jeremy Bannon-Neches, David Schleiffers
Music: Roomful of Teeth
Set: Katrina Rodabaugh
Lighting: David Szlasa
Sound Design: Ben Juodvalkis

Writing About Process
notes on a new work

Performance Text

--Irene Hsiao, “Theory and Practice,” S.F. Weekly, May 7, 2013
--Julie Potter, “Rigor of the Mind and Body,” Triple Dog Dare, April 17, 2013
--Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sept. 25, 2013

Funding Credits
Failure of the Sign is the Sign was a commission for ODC Theater, supported in part by funds from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.