This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I also talked to Adj last week, a friend who grew up in the East Providence area, and for whom the Arcade was first connected with the rebellious act of coming into downtown Providence as a teen.

One of the most striking moments of our conversation was when Adj described her second visit to the Arcade during one of Providence's Art Walks, almost a decade after her last memory, when the balcony was the aspect of the building that left the strongest impressions:

Photograph showing the second floor balcony from the Weybosset Street side. Photo by author, 12/9/11

For me, Adj's experience of the interior of the Arcade on her first visit brings to mind the relationship between interiors and the interiority of self addressed by some architectural theorists. In Body, memory and architecture, Kent C. Bloomer and Charles Willard Moore talk about the idea of "body spatiality." In contrast to a mathematical, objective understanding of space, body spatiality "refers to an internal world which is not only distinct from and within an external world, but which is centered around "landmarks" and bodily memories that reflect a lifetime of events encountered outside the psychic body boundary" (1977, 45). In his musings on architecture in A Place of My Own, Michael Pollan notes that a similar idea comes up in the work of Philippe Ariès concerning the simultaneous emergence of the private study and the modern sense of the individual during the Renaissance. Pollan writes, "Apparently this is no accident: The new space and the new self actually helped give shape to one another. It appears there is a kind of reciprocity between interiors and interiority" (2008, 8). 

The difference between these two examples is in the presence of the body. The sense of self that Pollan and Ariès address refers to the psyche of the individual, and whilst the body is present as the medium for interacting with the space of the private study, it is a medium separate from the mind- a duality inherited from Descartes. Bloomer and Moore emphasise the need to overcome this separation, and their choice of the phrase "psychic body boundary" points to this. Their work is relevant to what I am exploring, because moving beyond the separation between mind and body is crucial to my approach to place-based dance. Conceiving of the boundary between mental and kinetic/physical processes as fluid and shifting is essential to exploring the potential of the cross-roads of meanings of places and embodied movements within them. 

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