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Choreographing Identity

Some recent thoughts on the auto-ethnographic process:

When choreographing identity you are tasked with sifting through and deciding which aspects of you that you want to investigate, question, make visible, and manipulate through the art making process. In this undertaking, you begin to reorganize your everyday priorities in attention. You begin to notice parts of you that perhaps you’ve avoided in the past. The heightened attention you give to these parts may cause them to blossom, may cause them to shrink. Inevitably, as you begin to examine these parts, looking at them from multiple angles, bumping them up against other aspects of you, testing their significance in your story; they begin to shift and change. Identity is slippery in this way —as soon as you begin to search for it, it changes, morphs. Perhaps more accurately, it is ever-changing —a fluid rather than a solid. 

The act of choreographing identity is an attempt to construct a something out of fluid. For much of the process, you can partner with the changing parts of you, flowing with them and morphing as they do. But at some point in the process, you realize a thing is emerging. And in order to capture the thing (which is at risk of washing away with the flow of evolving life), you begin to construct: setting parameters, writing outlines, drawing up scores, building structure around your identity. The piece begins to take shape, and the structure you’ve built to organize your identity begins to solidify. 

At the end you have a piece —a delicate artifact of the you that you were when you constructed the work. But rather than feeling accomplished for the work you’ve done, you feel trapped, yearning to break down the structure —to release your identity back to its fluid state. 

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