Locating: Place and the Moving Body

Taylor, Gretel (2008) Locating: Place and the Moving Body. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This research project physically and theoretically investigates a relationship between body and place, via site-specific performance-making processes in diverse Australian sites. It encompasses the creation of two live performances and a video installation, the development of which are documented and elucidated in a written exegesis. The exegesis and associated performance processes explore the proposition that movement/ dance—as a spatial practice—can be a mode of locating, or an attempt to locate. ‘Locating’ implies an endless process that is always heading towards location, place, total presence—but may never arrive. Using practice-based, embodied research as its methodology, environmental information from the specific site is gathered via sensory perception tasks, some derived from Body Weather (a movement philosophy developed by Japanese dancer Min Tanaka), generating an improvisational exchange of perception and response. This ‘locating dance’ is the relationship between body and the place: it is simultaneously the seeking of relationship and the expression, enactment or illustration of it. In seeking location in relation to Australian sites from the perspective of a body that is white, the research also interrogates white Australian identity in relationship to this country, with the knowledge of the genocide and dispossession that its history entails. The work of theorists of place and space, as well as local historical and ecological sources, provide the framework for this series of excavations. Via traveling in Europe and to Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory, insights develop into the cultural and corporeal residue of colonisation. Thus, the specific geographical site of each of the performance works acts also as a microcosm for, or reference point to, the broader site of contemporary Australia and the non-Aboriginal postcolonial experience of place. Representation of the body in performance is constructed in various ways to acknowledge the implications of its whiteness. The locating dances and performance works that comprise Locating: Place and the Moving Body engage in a multi-sensory listening to the country that aspires towards (white Australian) location—that elusive and longed-for ‘belonging’ or true ‘settlement’—yet they do not purport to have found, or even anticipate finding, an endpoint to this dance.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2050
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 410000 The Arts
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords live performances, locating dances, place and space, white Australian identity
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