Attention is cast upon the exterior world with an infinite scale of intensities. From hyperfocus to ambient impression, the makeup of a memory is always a complex assemblage of sensory inputs. Captured but never fixed, memories grow more distorted with time. Intimate memories intertwine with constructed social memory to build individual and collective fictions of the present.My name is Tarren Johnson and I am dancer and choreographer. I’m from California but have lived in Berlin for three years. This winter I felt moved to return to the United States to make a new work within the context of the precarious political and economic climate there.
I feel, in this return, all the clichés of an American artist coming back to rediscover her country with fresh eyes. I am inspired by pictures of America. I imagine myself on the open road with a camera, capturing the times from coast to coast. The reality is that I will be making this dance piece in New Orleans and working with FLOCK, a dance company directed by Meryl Murman.
My piece is called Phila, and it focuses on the consumption, transactions, and exploitation of the human body through images. Another intention for the piece is to disrupt the genre of literary memoir. I want to create a narrative that encompasses several perspectives and becomes a collective memory, in order to summon a common voice. This desire comes from my observation that the American public is having an ideological transformation: becoming more invested in community and less fixated on free-market capitalism. As a result, the media narratives that shape the American identity are splitting at the seams. I want to take this opportunity to creatively engage in narrative building. We need new ways of seeing the past in order to challenge our assumptions about the present and future. In New Orleans I hope to develop an aesthetic speaking to the socio-economic position my generation faces and become a catalyst for creative intervention.
Photos by Luis Rodriguez.