May I disappear in order that those things that I see may become perfect
in their beauty from the very fact that they are no longer things that I see.
To see a landscape as it is when I am not there. . . .
When I am in any place, I disturb the silence of heaven and earth
by my breathing and the beating of my heart.
(Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, 1952)
In her book Gravity and Grace, French activist, philosopher, and mystic Simone Weil (1909-43) coined the term ‘décreation’, describing the desire to empty one’s self in order to make room for something beyond our perception, both reaching into and transcending the personal. Décreation is a spiritual tool, a kind of technology which enables us to contain the un-reasonable and the unknown, wonder and awe; it allows for a sensitive, attentive and empathic experience of the self and its surroundings.
The piece Gravity & Grace was created by Ana Wild and Johanna Markert. Following a joint close reading of Simone Weil, it consists of a book and a performance. It is intended to be read outdoors. Each audience member receives a book and follows the reading, which is read by four performers.
The text is a kind of play; it indicates two types of reading: reading aloud and reading silently. This proposition evokes a cognitive phenomenon called subvocalisation: the act of inaudibly articulating the words that we read, and ‘hear’ them in our minds. This phenomenon is recognised as an essential factor in the faculty of understanding and interpreting.
The play Gravity & Grace invites the reader to be aware of their inner voice – listen to it.
Alternating between inner and spoken voice, the voice itself becomes an agent. Moving seamlessly between individual and collective registers, it touches on spiritual, philosophical and ethical themes following the writings of Simone Weil, Jewish thought and ecocriticism.
The first iteration of Gravity and Grace was performed at the CCA – Center for Contemporary Art, Tel-Aviv, and the Bat-Yam Museum of Contemporary Art. The Hebrew edition was published by Poraz et Navok and was showcased during ArtPorts’ Artist Book Fair 2022.