In recent years, Siobhan Davies Dance company has twice come to Glasgow’s Tramway. Each time I spent many hours, over many days, in the space with the dancers. The pieces, ‘Table of Contents and material / re-arranged / to / be’, were episodic, overlapping and durational. The first took place in the small, square Gallery 5, which has a wall of windows that face onto Albert Drive; the second took place in Tramway 2, the echoing, industrial chamber that was formerly the tram depot. Over the run of the shows there grew to be familiar faces who spent hours there as audience members, watching as unique combinations of movements and sounds manifested around us, which were whole at the point of delivery and yet catalytic too. I think a few of us found this utterly compelling. These essays / propositions are my attempt to evoke aspects of these pieces and the bodies that created them.

In considering these performances, I am interested in what we carry with us into spaces, as performers and as audience. For me, each time, I was carrying a growing interest in difficult archives and in artists’ attempts to express what is impossible to express. Archives are always personal and political and hold the question: what is this thing, in context ? Archives usually act to render a landscape neat, managed, cleared and acceptable. However, if we are attempting to archive movement (or emotion or intention) we must accept archives as messy, partial, fleeting and always changing. Here with Siobhan Davies the body communicates each proposition by holding the question that prompted it. Within these considerations, body is archive; the body is agent, resource and continually impressionable.

Overlapping inspirations embed themselves in this piece: the work of Siobhan Davies Dance company itself realised by the curiosity, graft, talent and ease of the dancers; the photographs of Brian Hartley (; and an artists’ book-making workshop run by Amanda Thomson (, which introduced me (perhaps dangerously so) to tracing paper and X-Acto knives.

Elizabeth Reeder is a novelist and essayist. A digital chapbook of her hybrid essays, one year, is published by The Essay Press: She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.