Agata Siniarska Artistic Profile Research
“archiving as companionship”

Agata Siniarska’s research project “Archiving as companionship”, outlines the differences between evidence and history, between fact and fiction, in an attempt to separate the truth from the lie.

Telling the truth about history has both political and material consequences. Archives are exclusionary collections, monuments to specific power configurations. Stories that are not considered 'noteworthy' are not archived and what is not in the archive does not exist. In this way, the colonies established their right to new territories by bringing their archives with them. The purpose of this was to root newcomers in unknown land that did not belong to them, as well as establishing sovereignty, transforming the land into territory.

Archives have always been a place of policy-making, of creating formal narratives and a tool to privilege specific stories and people. Archives record, classify, locate, allow, censor and mark. Archives are not a neutral tool, but a deliberate political action. All technologies in the archives, such as passports, maps, documents confirming nationality and origin, and thus the right or lack of right to a particular history, act as mechanisms to force a specific vision of the world, a hierarchic world in which one has an inviolable, meticulously engraved place. How do these documents connect?  How are they separated from each other? In what arrangement are the numbers in the catalogue, hierarchies, collections, groups, subgroups? Is the fact that they lie together on a shelf already considered a community? Do the files lying next to one another talk to each other?


What are the ephemera carriers that extend archiving practices beyond the phallocentric emphasis on visibility, sound recording and documentation? How do we bring new materials into the sphere of archives, and thus a different aesthetic sensitivity, in order to create a new format with new attributes that are not reduced to the sum of the heterogeneous elements mobilised to create it?

Other archives, is a movement not only 'for' movement, but also 'against' movement. This movement resists the dominant systems of aesthetics and institutional classification. When we meet other archives, we build our own choreographies, our own relations, our own emotions, and store them in our personal archive of stories within our bodies. Other archives are not isolated units, they are more like oceanic whirlpools. Each document is a singular dynamic movement, dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation. They move in time and space - body to body, to body, to body. The question 'what is' is never enough. 'How' is it like? 'Where' is it? 'When' is it? - are choreographies of their common relations. Every body in the archive is a threshold, a transition between the past and the future. Other archives reject the ontological division between 'thing' and 'transition', between 'body' and 'vector'.

The timeliness of Other archives is a time of delay, duplicated time, duration, time of return. All this time of thinking, which opens up the whole spectrum between the time saved and lost. Agata is reminded that her human time is simply one of many modes of temporality. She recognises the body as the carrier of other archives. The body is both human and non-human, organic and inorganic. The body stores deep memories that feed its cells like streams with sources beyond our reach.
In the case of archiving, the body takes the form of a document. It records the effects of a force field, storing these forces in its physical, mental, somatic structures. Continuously subject to change, our bodies and their movements, speak without words.

The encounter between bodies is often pertaining on the surface, on the skin. The skin is a place of contact and communication. It is a place where dialogues are recorded. It is also a place of borderline, between one story and another, yet fluid. Though Agata cannot cross certain boundaries, she can stretch them and move them. This is the essence of a vigilant and sensitive encounter with another species. Of course, her perspective always remains the human perspective, but saying that, she undermines the sense of the learning process. Meeting a new species opens spaces to new relationships and apparatus with which she was not familiar before. She, of course, continues to impose her ways of thinking, but attempts to keep them open enough to work well with those who offer unknown worlds. Other archives is transcorporal, transcriptional, and in constant transformation.

There is no space without a story. Every landscape is written, from body to body.

To be able to speak, over one hundred different muscles of the chest, neck, jaw, tongue and lips must work together. Every word or short phrase physically pronounced is the result of a unique system of muscle movements. Stories are complex physical actions, large enough to accommodate the complexity of the world, and open up new, amazing relationships. There is no difference between written and embodied language - writing is an embodied act, acting is a discursive act. Oral transmission does not comply with the rules of ownership, possession, dictated by the official archive. Official archives often classify oral history as a primitive practice (a standard archive cannot read other records than its own and is therefore primitive). We often hear that telling stories is a universal experience in all nations, cultures, and societies. Unfortunately, most often we hear this version from the dominant perspective, which assumes the right to tell the stories of the colonized and oppressed, stories which have been reinterpreted and presented from a violent perspective. Hence, our encounter with the archives cannot be a one-way street. Archives influence our way of seeing the world and thus our relationship with our archives are of great importance.

Scores are both verbal text, a collection of images and other types of documents, developed partly as a new means of communication, usually between the choreographer and the dancers. Scores allow for reinterpretation of a choreography, not dominated by the choreographer-author. It is a material that does not impose the 'truth', but is open to play. For Anna Halprin, the score becomes a way of sharing creativity and demystifying it so that everyone can participate. Lisa Nelson describes scores as “not documents but sets of shared agreements which provide a communication and feedback system for an ensemble of players.” Scores prepared with the participation of all bodies open the archives to uncertainty, instability and vigilance.

Standard archives assume that if performative practices are not passed on for tangible documentation, they will be irretrievably lost. Dance always remains. The dancing body is its own archive. A body dancing at the moment of its performance produces a 'live notation'. So how does dance remain when there is no notation written down, when the dance does not conform to standard documentation? It is important to distinguish between dance and its stage performance and dance as a practice. Of course, a dance performed on stage may disappear. There are remains of many outstanding choreographies which make it impossible to recreate the entire performance. It is not without reason that the Balanchine Foundation founded 'The Archive of Lost Choreography', which tries to save the remains of specific dance performances.

Dance as a practice does not disappear as long as it is practiced and developed, passed from body to body, from generation to generation. The act of disappearance of individual dances is an objection to commodification, against the fetish of leaving an artifact, thus dance is probably the most ecological practice of art. Dance as a practice does not find its purpose in the final result of the produced work, but in the process of research (practice as research). Even when the dance is presented on stage, the research continues. Dance interferes with the process of commodification and participation in the system of economic exchange and thus interferes with capitalist exchange systems. The tendency for dance to disappear also opposes the ideological imposition of a sanctioned version of dance history and traditional historiography, which masks its own construction with relations of power and domination of certain aesthetic tendencies.

Bio Archives. Since the beginning of mankind, the number of people born has exceeded 107 billion, of which 7 billion live and the remaining 100 billion are dead. The land on which we live has a humic basis. Decaying bodies affect the chemical composition of the earth, water and air, over time becomes fossils. Organic remains are a connecting element, mixing species and supporting symbiotic relations between organisms. The human body, in this case, has no other status in the decomposition process. Decomposition knows no hierarchy or boundaries. Soil systems deal with dead bodies in exactly the same way as with any other form of organic substance, storing its history and assigning it to a new community. The earth therefore has a documentary function. From layer to layer, from body to body, it is an archive of incarnate history from which the human subject cannot escape.

Other archives do not reject one format in favor of another, one look in favor of another, one point in space, one way of time. Other archives are the whole spectrum of situations and circulation. All forms of archiving are necessary, it only depends on how they are used and what relationships they build. The aim of such an archive is to open up to symbolic meanings, metaphors, visions, images, experiences, cognitive processes that integrate the emotions and values that "cultivate" the imagination, blurring the boundaries between science, art and politics.


For Agata, choreography is a tool for reading, building, writing, creating, noticing and revealing relationships. This very broad definition is a way of thinking for Other archives, that focuses on how individual elements interact with each other, and how and what the archives may activate in us.

Choreography reveals a system of movement. A moving body is not a spontaneous body. The body is a vessel of repeated movements and known patterns that reveal its education, social background, physical and political attitudes. Choreography reveals ways of using the body in time and space. Choreography is a processional cartography, a moving architecture that is present in constantly changing relationships and dialogues with other bodies. Choreography deals not only with human bodies, non-human bodies and their movements, but rather with an ever-changing set of relationships and qualities between them, mediated by spaces and structures, from the human body to man-made climate change, from the cellular scale of a single body to clusters of many bodies. Choreography multiplies on many levels. When looking at a dancing body recording its choreography, one makes another choreography of their own.  When looking at the dancing body on stage, these two choreographies are part of another choreography, social choreography and so on, all the way up to planetary choreography.

Choreography is a process of constantly negotiated relations. The procedural category is still neglected in the contemporary normative perspective, rejecting relational and situational links with inhuman existence and the world. These relationships exist everywhere on our planet, many times in places perceived as peripheral, in the dead zone of the Eurocentric perspective and discourse.

In the words of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “The globe is on our computers, but no one lives here.” The human experience of space happens with and through the body, hence the knowledge coming out of choreography should not be limited to this medium alone, but should become a practice of writing a common history in which humanity lives and shares space with different forms of existence, exploring the entangled experience of social structures through movement, through performative, bodily, movement-based and sensory strategies and processes. All bodies exist in relation: in relation to and through interaction with other bodies, opening our working methods and perspectives to collective knowledge. Choreographies suggest a reorientation of the practice towards the creation and modulation of assemblages which associate materially heterogeneous types of human and non-human activities. Choreography is a key area of politics. By challenging central categories such as rhythm, strength, space, time, energy, dynamics and flow, it sheds light on the kinetic foundations of contemporary society.

What are the tasks of the archive today, at a time of extinction? What are archives in times of extinction? What is extinction? What is this event? Climate, hydrological and anthropogenic changes have occurred and are occurring in ecosystems around the world. One of the adverse, progressive changes are the impoverishment of biodiversity. It is characterised by the slow disappearance of individual animal populations and plants. This is not a problem that belongs to distant continents, but a global problem, including Poland. Although all activities in these areas have a strong impact on other parts of the globe, this is an overlooked topic, absent from the Polish public debate. The extinction of species, a collective death, is a kind of tangled mass grave transformed in time, an event without a monument, without memory and social awareness. The absence of the memory of disappearing individual species of flora and fauna is an archive of silent stories, unnoticed traces, without a voice. However, with the abstractness of its description, extinction is never a general event, it is always a phenomenon that requires ways of meeting and understanding that transcend disciplines. The archive is in fact a death zone - a place where the living and the dead meet and permeate.

The roles of humans in the extinction of fauna and flora are very complex. There are many ways in which human communities are affected and suffer from extinction yet they are usually not present in political discussion. Discussions take place somewhere else, outside the extinction zone, without relations to extinction. How can new relationships with species, taking into account biocultural complexities, revitalise and reconfigure the possibilities for reaction and responsibility? How can we think of the documented history of mankind and history’s unwritten stories of the landscape together? How can we think of materiality and human stories as one, in a world where we suffer from the lack of a common world, where we have lost a common orientation, a common direction.

Agata Siniarska works within the field of dance and choreography. She places her practice between how we think about and move in the world. It is a place where somatics and politics intersect. A place where body perception meets social engagement, between somatic and environmental landscapes, between human and non-human bodies.

Moving Margins Chapter II
moving arti|facts from the margins of dance archives
into accessible scores and formats

- STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government
Commissioner for Culture and Media with
in the
framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR.
Assistance Program for Dance.

Moving Margins
artistic researches

                     Amelia Uzategui

- STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government
Commissioner for Culture and Media with
in the
framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR.
Assistance Program for Dance.

© 2021 All rights reserved to Sasha Portyannikova, Nitsan Margaliot and the interviewees.