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ArtDate 19: Maddie

Plucking 40 Chickens


This is a longer blog post than I usually write for my ArtDates. My website says it will take you 4 minutes to read. I say it will take you a Reading a Blog Post While to read. And you'll want to keep reading if you want to know how long a pissing while is.

My relationship to time is different when I'm improvising or creating. Day-to-day (hour-to-hour? minute-to-minute?) I find myself often in an antagonistic relationship to time.

The amount of time I talk about the most is "too much," as in, "I've spent too much time doing..."

When improvising, I can find myself IN time, locating the feeling of time passing and developing playful, complex, agency-filled relationships to it. It's one of the great gifts of improvising for me, this new collaborative relationship with time.


Time factors into all of my artistic endeavors, often in the more mundane, sometimes antagonistic way. I have time today to write up this ArtDate because the two rehearsals I was supposed to have were rescheduled due to snow.


It was only after I planned to have an ArtDate with Maddie Rabin that she realized that I had written a review of her lovely Fringe Festival show Sprout: A Full-Length Not-A-Ballet back in 2019. I had forgotten she had choreographed that show by the time we met again through klezmer years later. We scheduled our ArtDate for the first week of 2024, postponed, and then both got there later than planned.



I rush the walk from my house to the studio and arrive around

3:45pm by the audibly ticking clock at The Whole Shebang

We hug and share about our days.

We spill some ideas out on paper.

Maddie writes "thriving in transience"

which pulls us into a discussion about time. How temporary-ness can be super generative. She's moving soon and, with all her things in boxes, wrote two songs in one week!

I think about my own tendency to create profusely when immersed at a festival or in the lull between jobs.

We try an experiment, setting a timer for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, then 7 minutes. Each time, we will find a new space and improvise there together. When the timer goes off, we end and find a new space.

Our first dance starts right where we are, when the timer goes off, we go! Gotta pack in the ideas.

5 minutes takes us out in the hallway- there's so much to explore! Making sound on the coat hangers, sliding each other around on the studio broom.

7 minutes we're hugging the square wooden pole in the studio. We talk for the first time, testing how long 7 minutes is as it unrolls to the timer.


Maddie talks about the book Time Management for Mortals and how, before the clock was invented (tick tock goes the Shebang clock), humans had a different relationship to time. There was no such thing as "wasting time" because time was inseparable from our experience of it, so we are time. Time was that you'd measure time by tasks- a pissing while was the amount of time it took to piss. But also that's a hard concept to internalize when you need to be on Zoom for a client at 3pm. Besides it takes everyone a different amount of time to piss.


Time Management for Mortals reminded me of Silvia Federici's thoughts about time and industrialization in Caliban and the Witch, how the creation of wage labor transformed our relationship to time.


We talk deep time and task-based time. How plucking 40 chickens takes as much time as it takes, a plucking 40 chickens amount of time. How I love post-modernism because our relationship to time is "real" and not "representative," doing the performative tasks in real time.


We look for a task to do to feel this time; this feels somewhat performative, but we slip into it sideways, continuing our conversation as we take off our clothing and fold it neatly (Maddie teaches me Marie Kondo's folding method). We get too cold and put on different outfits, helping each other with ties. This doing/talking/philosophizing/creating feels deeply feminine like this waulking song or singing a Yiddish folk song while plucking 40 chickens.

"I feel like I'm in deep time," I say. I haven't looked at the ticking clock behind me in a... while.

Maddie reminds me that we still need to leave time to go to my house to pick up the tart I baked, get to West Philly, stop by her house to make a salad, and get to her friend's for Shabbat dinner at 7:30pm. We should probably leave my house around 6:30pm.


So what do we do with our remaining time to create something for our ArtDate?

We decide to document the different whiles of getting to my house. One of us will do the task necessary to get to my house and set up or hold the camera and the other one will improvise for the amount of time it takes to do the task. You can see all the videos (out of order) which add up to a Leaving an ArtDate While (we filmed nearly continuously) on this Youtube playlist. I've included a few excerpted in this blog.


Before leaving the studio I needed to pee, so Maddie danced for a pissing while. We talk about how long that was at the beginning of our time packing up (next video):


A Packing Up While


A Going Down the Stairs While (Miryam's Favorite)


An Opening the Door While


A Closing the Door While


A Getting the Tart Out of the Fridge While (Maddie's Favorite)


When I finished getting the tart, I glanced at the clock.



In our Lyft to West Philly Maddie and I experienced ourselves moving through space in the time it took to get from South to West. Maddie asked our driver for his thoughts on time, prompting a discussion that lasted about as long as the rest of our drive. He said to us:


Let me put it to you this way...

A treadmill minute is the longest minute you will ever face.


Thanks to him for this and many other thoughts that would make this post an even longer read.


While making this blog post, I experienced a blog-post making while, a videos extracting from a ZIP file while, and a videos uploading to youtube while while the snow fell continuously outside my window. A Publishing an ArtDate Blog Post While is longer than you might think.






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