ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ‘SOCIETAT DOCTOR ALONSO’
“Hammamturgia” (“Hammamturgy”) is a new research process that will be started by ‘Societat Doctor Alonso’ at the Auditorio de Tenerife from 21 to 27 June 2021.
The collective seeks to formalise this new research in stage format, yet it does not rule out other ways to share the work with the masses. In the last eight years, they have started and undertaken three research processes that have led them to a variety of formats and pieces.
These research processes came to be for two reasons: firstly, the need that the collective's members had to interact and work with different people/creators/thinkers – different from the usual ones. A need to open their way of looking at the world, add new perspectives, questions, came to ways of doing things. Secondly, and looking back on the three pieces of research that came before “Hammamturgia”, the process also came to be out of an obsession that has gradually unfolded in a unique way.
Questioning the learned Western way of looking at things, of relating, and of inhabiting the world… this drive has not abandoned 'Societat Doctor Alonso' throughout all these processes.
During the project entitled "La Glorieta" ("Small Glory"), the initial question was: what is central and what is peripheral in speech: That was followed by: what happens in peripheral speech? it questions key elements of speech and focuses the interest and gaze towards what could be considered peripheral in nature. An intuitive and conceptual approach, and one that already indicated a line along which future, more precise research would follow. "Glorieta" yielded a series of mechanisms and practical sketches –unfinished– that posed many questions and pointed towards ways to continue the search.
The next project "El desenterrador de palabras" (“The Excavator of Words”) worked in a way similar to that of "Glorieta"; that is to say, questioning something or considering it to be in crisis. While in “Glorieta” the pre-eminence of the central aspect of speech was questioned, here the function and ability of words to account for the world that they supposedly define has been questioned by taking two steps forward. Firstly, by explicitly and concretely focusing on a way to work: words. Secondly, by centring the research down a single path and delving deeper thereinto.
While in "Glorieta" many different practices were implemented and varied mechanisms and questions came about, in "Desenterrador" it was decided to focus on a single practice until reaching perfection. Thus arose the notion of the excavation of words as a group work technique that continues to be employed today and which brought about the ‘textuality’ of the stage piece entitled "Y los huesos hablaron" ("And the Bones Spoke").
"Contrakant" is the collective's third research process. It continues questioning elements of the supposed way of understanding the world to generate a hole or crack through which other realities or perceptions can be seen. Specifically, it proposes questioning the ‘a priori judgements’ of Kant, according to which we Westerners can only approach and understand reality through structures of space and time that have been previously given to us. Once again, here the intention is to turn around "knowledge" as it is believed to be and as it is thought to work. In this case, by attacking head-on one of the thinkers who this occasion solidly contributed to building the way in which Westerners believe the world can be known.
"Hammamturgia" ("Hammamturgy") is a new step along this path, immersed in something atmospheric, almost innate. it is not so much a question of analysing the functioning of some type of knowledge or mechanism that defines the visible world; that is to say, this time it is not work that is carried out from the outside to find an inside. In Hammamturgy, the step consists of being inside, going through it, being that thing that moves us yet which we don't see.
In research pieces, 'Societat Doctor Alonso' wants to take this trip accompanied by other people and other gazes. They will hold meetings with people engaged in discourses on the body and its 'performativity,' discourses on the Arab world, and discourses on architectural space. They aim to build a space of shared intimacy which features the characteristics of an Arab hammam
A key element:
This research process arises out of the need to understand an intuition. The existence of the “Hammamturgy”. The 'Societat Doctor Alonso' exposes:
"We know that alongside all dramaturgy there is a Hammamturgy. Hammamturgy is something organic that organises, forgive the repetition, what can happen. A happening that is sedimentary. We read dramaturgy, but what really drives change, when it's fair, is Hammamturgy, which, just like dramaturgy, is not life. Hammamturgy would be the ordering of change. Not a narrative of change, but the incursion into change. It is what is outside of you, what really happens. That is why it is important to work on a ritual, because it goes from beginning to end, because it does not leave you halfway, because it is not a part but the whole. The ritual has a fixed liturgy that will allow us to fix our gaze on hammamturgy. And, therefore, two things will happen at the same time. The liturgy of the hammam of the body/cleaning/relaxation, and Hammamturgy, the change, that which is shared.
Why a hammam? Because it is a liturgy that is distant and close to us at the same time. We do not practice it daily and this distance will give us a limit, needed for learning and freedom. It is close to us due to cultural ties and our shared Mediterranean origin. It has a clear and defined liturgy, from start to finish. In one way and come out another, because your body has undergone a process of cleansing and change. The spectators will hardly have time to wonder about anything; they will be immersed in the space and its liturgy, quickly located in the centre of Hammamturgy, because the body is an essential part of liturgy and it is at the centre of the proposal.
In a hammam the perception is in the body. A body that stops, takes off its clothing, cleanses itself with water, is subjected to different temperatures to allow sweat —excess— to be extracted, and is toned. It is the body that receives a massage, stretches, and relaxes; that is renewed.
And perception is made by the context. Spectators who arrive at “Hammamturgia” will be invited to dispose of all their belongings and clothes, they will be given a towel, a bucket, and a sponge. And, equipped in this way, they will access the Hammam.
Their gaze will change without the need to activate anything, being in a closed, intimate space with other people under the same circumstances. Something related to intimacy will inevitably kick in.
Men and women separated. Like a sculptural gesture that first tends to the material and its physical characteristics. The same with the same, because inside the same are all the possibilities.
Men with men. Women with women.
A principle and a decision made out of exhaustive respect for the hammam's liturgy. The space is the first discourse. “Hammamturgy” generates a warm place for cleaning within the city. We will build a moist space, closed, placed on the stage. The stage, where everything should be lighted, visible, exposed, will be occupied by a closed space where the spectators enter. The stage is modified to become a closed space, invisible and hidden to those outside, modifying the position of the spectator who will access the stage and become part of it.
The time of intimacy.
When someone goes to the hammam, they are taking a break, a marked pause in their usual daily rhythm of life. The hammam is a place of cleanliness, silence, and repose. It is a place for a pause."
(*) Image copyright: Photo-book "Many changes are taking place" by Alejandro Granero (2021).