Anthology of Anger
Anthology of Anger by Alexis Blake
Dancers: Marika Meoli, Mami Izumi, Alexis Blake
Concept: Alexis Blake
In Some Things Hidden Alexis exhibits the initial phases of her current project Anthology of Anger, which would normally be hidden from public view. In this project, Alexis explores how our body functions as an archive, storing our emotions. She also examines how culture and history both influence the ways we express, and suppress, our anger and empathy, using both our bodies and our voices.
Gender, race, class, nationality and religion, and their intersections, all play an important role in the way we express our emotions. For example, in many countries it is considered inappropriate for a woman to express her anger, and its expression is often linked to terms such as ‘hysteria’ or ‘witchcraft’. Alexis is particularly interested in these socially unacceptable or prescribed expressions through use of our bodies and voices.
In times of post-truth and language impoverishment, Alexis observes a tendency for reactionary behaviour in response to the feeling of anger, often without questioning the origin of this anger or how it is expressed. Anger can be an indispensable force behind resistance, and therefore change, but to apply this in a truly effective way, Alexis believes it is necessary to critically examine and realign our emotions based on rational reflection. What role does empathy have in this?
According to Alexis, the word ’empathy’ is bandied around a lot in left-wing politics. But what does it actually mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? To lay your own convictions to one side? How do empathy and anger relate to each other in terms of their physical expression? Is it possible to have empathy for someone you are angry with? Or someone who is verbally aggressive towards you?
Research shows that, alongside our appearance and character traits, we also inherit the traumas and emotions of our ancestors, carrying their anger, grief and memories within us. By releasing these emotions and (re)examining them, we can begin to trace their origins. How does the scientific aspect of this heritage, the DNA, relate to the cultural and historical context in which these emotions are formed and embodied?
Rather than analysing these questions rationally, Alexis explores them using the body and voice in a number of public rehearsals, together with the audience. What do our (intuitive) movements say about the knowledge we store in our bodies? How do we postulate using our limbs? During Some Things Hidden Alexis presents a scenario for a performance in which the relationship between ‘prescribed’ anger and empathy and their intuitive expression is collectively examined. By embodying these emotions and expressing them physically, as opposed to verbally, she attempts to free the more sensory and intuitive aspects of our behaviour.