our bodies warm in the sun, unsettled
Our Bodies Warm in the Sun, Unsettled is a modular performance based on the personal, racial, and environmental histories of the land in which it takes place. A dance theater duet and social practice experience, Unsettled combines research, satire, and improvisation to create a critical reflection on the American Wilderness. Each iteration of the piece attempts to create a self-reflective framework to confront the complex histories and present day practices of settler colonialism embedded in experiences of nature.
The script, choreography, and participatory action that make up Unsettled result in a collage of strange contrasts and collision. For instance, the legacy of Manifest Destiny overlaps with the voices of the performers’ mothers recalling beloved natural places. The outdoor gear industry is flooded with pioneers’ tea sets and grandfather clocks. Audience members square dance with John Muir and the National Park System. And the genocide of California’s Native peoples is understood in the context of contemporary battles for tribal recognition.
For white people who are deeply nourished by the natural world, what does it mean for us to play, hike, and heal on stolen land?
CHOREOGRAPHED AND PERFORMED by Sarah Ashkin and Paolo Speirn
PRESENTED by Mountain House
RESEARCH, DRAMATURGY, AND PRODUCTION by Kristy Lovich
SOUND by Daniel Objezta
CREATED WITH/FOR the Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve, Ring Mountain - Unceded Huimen Coast Miwok Territory (2019); UC Irvine Clare Trevor School of the Arts - Unceded Tongva and Acjachemen Territory (2019); Monrovia Canyon Park- Unceded Tongva Territory (2018)
PHOTOS by Brooke Anderson, Cameron Crone, and Daniel Obzejta
unsettled collaborator bios
MOUNTAIN HOUSE, headed by KRISTY LOVICH, is a collective that practices radical stewardship of land, relationships, and culture, bringing material sustenance and cultural-intellectual engagement together. Mountain House works with folks to build and support projects that emphasize a connection between artmaking, knowledge building, and access to care, recognizing that these connections are critical for ensuring and restoring the health of local land, intercommunity relationships, and equitable cultural participation. www.mountainhouse.family
DANIEL OBZEJTA is a writer, director, and sound designer visual artist from Oradell, New Jersey. His work is interested in systems of layers, collisions, and collages evoking the grotesque and tender. https://obzejta.com/
accountability practice + partners
Our Bodies Warm in the Sun focuses on the ways in which outdoors culture replicates colonial violence and Indigenous erasure. In the making of this work, Paolo and Sarah did careful research about the Native communities who continue to steward the of sites where the piece was practiced and performed. When working with the history and site of the San Gabriel Mountains on Tongva land, we partnered with and raised funds for Metztli Projects and a Native-run plant and seed restoration organization. For the UC Irvine performance on Ajachemen land, we they partnered with and raised funds for Protect Long Beach El Cerrito Wetlands Initiative which is run by native Ajachemen water protectors. On Coast Miwok territory or Marin County, we attended Marina American Indian Alliance meetings, and then partnered with and raised funds for the Coast Miwok Monument, a project run by Coast Miwok organizers.
With gratitude, we offer this work to the places where it was created — home to the Tongva, the Acjachemen, and the Huimen Coast Miwok, who were the original stewards of these territories. As a community, we are committed to uplifting the names of these lands and the community members from these Nations who live alongside us.