dance is existence: a secret in fold

Dance is existence: a secret in a fold / Notes on the works of Deganit Stern Schocken/ Yehuda Safran / New York /1997


“All is intact: only fragments can be grasped”
                                                                              Edmund Jabes E1

  It is not only in clothing and appearance, in outward form and emotional make-up that men are product of history and art. Even the way we see and hear is inseparable from the form of life as it has evolved over time. The facts which our senses present to us are socially performed in two ways: through the historical and cultural character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving subject. Both are shaped by human activity and artifacts. And yet the individual often perceive his/herself as receptive and passive in the act of experience as in the act of perception.

  Deganit Stern Schocken is fortunate in so far as her work does mediate complexity and simplicity, ease of touch and difficulty of grasping. She avoids resting within a method, nor is she working without a method. She appears to follow an ancient device. Assuming a severe set of rules, she works her way through, with rare intelligence she will pursue with diligence all possible permutations and transformations. As if the purpose of possessing a method has been the possibility of working without one. Her configurations are made of limits. Limits of


movements,  of change, of being static, limits of transformation, and ultimately limits of comprehension.

  In Deganit Stern Schocken’s works, then, the abundant use of reflecting surfaces, filtering movements, hinges and strings, framed in an invisible geometry leads to the moment when pleasure is transcended; no longer confined to senses, thought, the mental mechanism which rules pleasure, takes over. Every single thing is a collection of the countless relations it has with everything else. Deganit Stern connects and divides lines according to proportions that given magnitude are assumed to have. We can do this in advance because our lines stand for lines. If a line stands for everything that the soul can be related to, it cannot be divided into parts until these things have been arranged according to their kinds. Since the line is to be divided by the proportion of different kinds, it appears that the line can be divided only after the proportion has been discovered. Without a solution known in advance, a riddle cannot be constructed.

  The felt, that which expresses itself for the first time, declares itself to us often in silence. These pleasures and pains at a distance placed within a parenthesis of the unthought which separate and delineate the surface against the horizons of height and depth, are creatures of the surface, objects of the depth.  Deganit eliminates as much as she includes. She isolates her subject, both in time and space if her action is not to be lost in another action. Thus she arrives at the point of equilibrium. She gives the impression that the stabilization has only just

taken place, that our own movement has arrested its movement, the movement in the object.

  According to the author of Ha-Zohar, Luria, the vessels destined to contain the divine light broke in the primeval act of the cosmic drama, and the light of the divinity became partly scattered throughout all the worlds. To lift the scattered sparks of light and to restore them to the place they were intended to occupy had not catastrophe intervened – this is the essential task of a man in the process of repair (tikkun).
There is a kind of redemption which can take in every man and every time, and it does not require Messianic redemption. As a cloud in large and unknown vessels, only more so, our thoughts turn, Aladdin shaped in relatively small vessels.The work of Deganit reaffirms the intactness of things in themselves while it denies their accessibility.

  As Wallace Steven writes in ‘The Man with the Blue Guitar’:
                                                  Do I begin and end? And where,

                                                  As I strum the thing, do I pick up
                                                  That which momentously declares
                                                  Itself not to be I and yet
                                                  Must be. It could be nothing else.  (XII)

Indeed, in this miniature of our lives the inside and the outside are only arbitrary part of the division of an infinite – time as if nothing passed, as if nothing were going to happen, as if each configuration has become its own field of time, a small eternity reflecting larger, infinitely larger one.

  As if we could speak through the silence of the spaces left empty by their difference. That from which her art is made does not pre-exist the work, but comes into being only when she forms it. Adopt it as such; the material is born at the point when she casts her gaze on the immense reality in movement and in doing so she endows it with formative possibilities and impresses upon it an artificial destination. The image and the material, the flesh and the soul, live off each other while they remain forever apart. The plurality and multiplicity of intervals are solidified in dreams of place.