A body that other bodies pass through
I am one of those people who, from a very early age, know for sure that they want to dance their lives. I regarded dedicating myself to dance as a serious decision, but it is a decision that is often taken lightly by those around you. Luckily, this was not the case for me. Can we live dedicating ourselves to art? Could a city feed on art? If this were so, would we not live better?
Once, walking around San Sebastian on my own, I imagined what this city would be like if it was the city of the arts, if each building proposed a different way of looking at life through the works of artists. The Tabakalera building went unnoticed or at least forgotten for years, as if it was not really there; as if it was hunched and crouching in order to remain unnoticed, like a shy giant, afraid of what might happen to it if it stood up; as if it had not stopped being what it was to be what it is today; as if it was in the process of transformation and this required discretion, not drawing attention to itself.
But that is what it has done: it has risen and stood up for itself; and there it is now, assuming its central position in the city, clean and shiny, with even a panoramic terrace as a crown. It is not uncommon for artists to often have to work in small, damp spaces where there is no natural light. It is increasingly common for dance halls to be in basements and have a wooden floor on a concrete base, so that the building lasts longer and the body not as long. We separate the body from the space in which the body is going to work, we set them against each other instead of creating links between them, instead of inviting them to explore each other. We forget that the works of art that we see, whether they are objects or stage or visual representations, have involved a long and intense period of work, irrespective of the place where they will end up exhibited or represented. But let us not forget that, without any doubt, it is in the space in which the work of art has been created and developed that its final result is determined.
Thus, a space such as Tabakalera must not only be aware of its “exhibiting” function, it must also accept its role as a “nursery”. This entails playing host to artists who come to confront themselves and their fears and to give birth to something that when they arrive has no form. It is very important for the artist to feel somehow surrounded and protected by the building that takes them in, and to feel sure that in this space for creation there is room for mistakes, for them to play with the unknown, for searching and for doubt; that this space is probably the only place where nobody is going to ask for explanations, the only place where they can get lost and take risks. This is a space that understands that, in creation, there are no boundaries. Perhaps because of that, because Tabakalera in its day has experienced this change, this metamorphosis for itself, it can also understand the need that the artist has to disappear when he or she creates, to be someone else, to not know who he or she really is, to crouch down. I see Tabakalera and I need it to be immense and generous, demanding and also supportive of what does not yet exist, but what could be.
Jone San Martin Astigarraga
Dancer and choreographer