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In 2012 I premiered a performance entitled EDEN. It was one of my early works created on the basis of techniques taught by the School of Images (SOI).
The work of SOI is based on the premise that the body is full of images. These images are always present, constituting the body’s DreamField, a universal tapestry of interconnection. Our imagery is the primary language of the body, actually the only language which the body truly understands and responds to. The images move the body. They are there prior to any bodily manifestation.
This premise was the base for my work on EDEN. I decided to work with the myth of the Garden of Eden. In Kabbalistic understanding of the story, Eden is located within us and is available to us at any time. We experience it, we fall out, and return again. It is always there for us to return to. Thus the myth of the Garden speaks about the here and now in the present, with all its potential available. Eden is not of some other paradisiac space. It announces the possibility of the present as the time of presence and revelation.
I wanted to create a performance to stage EDEN as a possible state of being, out of my imagination and experience, while in dialogue with the imagery of the original myth. I wanted the imagery and figures of the original myth to speak through my feeling body dreaming the myth anew, replaying the reimagined story from and through the live interaction with the audience.
Early on in the process, when we barely had begun this work, I had a dream.
I am in a rehearsal in a beautiful white illuminated studio in a building next to the ocean. I work with different women. Suddenly they are all gone. I sit in the same space but different, now facing Catherine, my teacher and mentor. She asks me if I am ready to do the work and I nod in affirmation. She asks me to go back into the studio where I was before and just let me see what I need to seefor myself. I am in the studio (for the third time) and now it is dark. I see a lion on my right and on the left a man and a woman lying naked on the floor next to each other, motionless and as if asleep. They look like twins but the constitution of the female is more fragile. They appear as if frozen in time and perfectly preserved. In this moment of the dream I know that I (my dream body) is outside of my body at some other place watching this scene and instantaneously and effortlessly come back to sit next to Catherine again. She says to me: “Wonderful! You remember it all right.” In the dream I know this work (dreaming) is about remembering and reconstructing the memory matrix of the universe we are a part of. Catherine is happy with my work and says to me: “When you start to remember, just let your body respond while you are seeing. It might be shocked or moved. Let it do whatever it needs to do. Follow it. It will guide you.”
This dream was a multifaceted response to the different questions I had in my creative process. Content wise, it showed the way to the Garden had to do with the awakening of the couple on the left, and the balancing of their power with the power of the lion on the right. It showed that the feeling body – the lion – was the key to the process. It showed the dramaturgy was to be based on mirror images, left to right, female to male, dream body to physical body, performer to audience. It also showed me how to use seeing and work within the realm of images to remember the Garden within and bring it onto the stage. To ‘re-member’ is to bring the members, the fallen, exiled and scattered parts of us, back to ourselves. Our memory is a part of cosmic memory, and when we align images, we align a greater whole.
The Kabbalah tells us that before Adam (and Eve) there is Adam Khadmon, the first (wo)man created in the image of God. Adam Khadmon is ‘Adam’ before the fall. This being is male and female at once, a being that contains all the universe within its body. It is fluid and whole. It is alone and all One at once.
EDEN as a performance became an open field, a field of moments of presence, moments of openness, moments of alignment, moments of connection, moments of remembrance. Moments when suddenly the gates of the Garden are wide open because paradoxically they never were closed. Art, to me, is about reasserting our first-hand experience in the present time, so EDEN became a vehicle for an intensified and more conscious experience of the present.
Art is not a blissful state of rest, it is a place of healing with a razorblade.
by Mala Kline | Artist, SOI Practitioner & Teacher
Mala is leading workshops on Imagery for Creative Artists in Spring 2023.