the following text was originally released in the March 2021 edition of my newsletter.
i’ve followed the work of Sanna Söderholm and Elinor Tollerz Bratteby AKA @uncoverchoreograpy for a while now, mostly as a friend and admirer.
then recently! sanna and elinor invited me to join them in the studio in an official capacity as… what? a photographer? cheerleader? fellow thinker? dramaturg? well. maybe… in an official emergent (!) capacity that is sensitive to and informed by our shared interests and developing relationship.
what they/we are working on at the moment is called “a little bit wet ‘n’ a little bit wild.” from what i gather, this work is a becoming celebration of all those experiences that a social human will enjoy when something in their behaviour manifests at the margin of the reasonable, the acceptable, perhaps.
witnessing Sanna and Elinor at work, i am continually reminded of “sanity,” the fact that sanity—the behaviour-coordinating definition of—is socially constructed and has been socially constructed (and reenforced) throughout history according to different standards at different times and in different contexts.
isn’t it fascinating how we know these things and yet, here we are, people of our time, believing in whatever we believe is what “sane” looks like, feels like, stands like, smiles like, smells like, lives like... you know. all that jazz.
and what of social reenforcement? working with Elinor and Sanna, i’ve been particularly careful of the way in which i report on what i’ve seen or felt watching the two at work because of how easily and quickly an unexamined belief in the existence of anything “right” “proper” “obvious” and “reasonable” may manifest in and be communicated via the assumptions i am making.
assumptions are tricky because they communicate value but also underlinewhat is said. which means that, unless specifically acknowledged, the assumptions we make remain embedded “in between the lines” from where they conjure invisible pressure—making us all vulnerable to their power.
that they underline means that they can manifest unacknowledged easily. the underlined is a matter of structural support, which makes it a matter “of what was there before what is here now.” they are the unspeakable cornerstones we base the temporary, intuitive, current sense-making on. assumptions are, in other words, easy to serve carelessly. oh. don’t mind carelessly, how about unintentionally!
unintentional, by the way, should not necessarily mean evil, right? because most of the time, in my experience, i won’t know what the underlying context of what i’m saying is unless i examine it. which is where things get interesting. why would i examine the assumptions i am making unless somebody—maybe somebody sensitive to the assumptions i am making—asks me to? why would i examine myself, in other words, unless somebody holds me accountable?
to examine the under-text of what one is saying, after all, one needs to make an effort, invest time, and look for more than one kind of support in more than one place. meanwhile, time is money, and support is hard to find and probably comes at a cost. and who can afford that, who can afford accountability?
effort, at least, is one’s to do with what one wants.
and isn’t that a trend you recognise: people pressed for time and money taking out of their actual life to engage in emotional and spiritual labor, people struggling to gain capacities with which to support themselves, their friends, and peers so that we could all come back to work tomorrow, fresh and rested. and ready for a new challenge.
to hold oneself accountable of your own free will is a protection mechanism that a person who plays the margin of the reasonable, the acceptable is well familiar with. a woman, for example. a queer person. a person whose skin colour is not white. a neuro-diverse person. any person whose body doesn’t quite fall under the umbrella of the heteronormative, of the abled, and the white; the convenient, the unobtrusive, the smooth and productive.
anyway. i took a bite bigger than i could digest today. i’d like to keep on writing but this newsletter must go out. now. as it is.
i’m sharing with you two of the “off screen” photos of Sanna and Elinor that i’m fond of. more photos will eventually appear in the press and on social media. keep an eye our for them. oh and ps, not all photos will be mine. another photographer collaborated on this project with us.
Mira Wickman (Mira is on instagram @mirawickman!).