Archive for April, 2011

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intensive week

here a log of the work we did in Germany during April. the days were very long and intense, and productive, though of course I would like to work for longer.
originally I planned to focus on the structure of the work, thinking about more complex forms of alternation/interaction between the 2 solos. in our november presentations the structure was very simple (1 solo after the other) and, after discussing the work with several people from our audience, I had in mind that it was necessary to complicate the structure and search for a more sophisticated form (composition) that would offer more options to the audience’s attention. in that same line, there was a thought to make sound and video more complex and more present in order to introduce a more concrete and recognizable context.
but: thinking things through, watching the videos and preparing for the rehearsals in Essen I had again the opposite feeling. that the work needs more simplicity and straightforwardness, less artifice, to heighten what’s really strong in it. the physical work, presence and concentration of the performers is really the core of this piece. all my attempts at layering more with video and sound felt arbitrary and forced. beyond moments in which the elements would come together satisfactorily, they would give me an overall feeling of unnecessary embellishment. it might partly be due to my lack of certain skills (particularly with sound), but I also trust the intuition that cleaning up from unnecessary elements empowers the work we have been doing with the performers bodies and minds.
through the week of work in Essen again we came back to the bareness of the 2 solos with almost no video or sound, and to the simple form of one solo after the other, with almost no overlapping. this was the result of working with the physical materials and realizing that there was still a lot to continue developing in them. first of all, the concreteness and recognizability of the sources became more apparent in the choreography. the work now includes more gestures and concrete imagination. we enriched the movement with an aspect that originally I was a bit cautious about, trying to avoid representation. now I trust that these elements which are somewhat representational (a hand or face gesture, a clear image) we are processing through our bodies in the time of the performance, and working on them with enough sophistication to produce something further than just the imitation of our sources.
also, this evolution of the materials lead to a rethinking of the structures inside the solos. they became less conventional (in november we worked with two very similar build-ups which maybe equalized too much the two solos). and this already generated a different interaction between them, even when the bigger structure seems to be almost the same.
to round it up, I am happy with the direction the work finally took. it felt organic. I feel like I’m learning to recognize what this specific process requires and to follow that logic rather than trying to impose my decisions on it. I think the materials have become more communicative. and though some people might still miss the presence of video and sound, or other elements, I trust this form brings up the sensation that there is something essential in this work. something very precious. however small and difficult and incomplete. and I trust in what this very bare work will produce.

update

almost may. in less than 2 weeks we premiere the work in Het Veem theater, in Amsterdam. I’m very excited and very nervous about it. the last few weeks have been very intense and full, and I have been wanting to write in the blog but didn’t manage to do it.
Ingrid and William are both away, out of town, so I have a few days of my full attention on the piece but no possibility to actually rehearse. this feels very strange and makes me a bit anxious. in the meantime I keep myself busy with different aspects of the production.
today flyers and posters went into print. much later than I would have liked, but that’s what was possible. by the end of the week they should be distributed. and I started sending some invitations, though the main part of it I will finish only today.
on friday Maria Noel is coming to Amsterdam and we will look into some adjustments to the costumes. we will also look together into the video projections, on which I still need to make some final decisions. they have come down to a very small element in the beginning of the performance, but I’m still not fully convinced about them.

Piece about disappearance

around the end of march I finally chose for a title. I am used to titling my work from the very beginning. it’s often an easy, intuitive first encounter or feel of what I want to do. but this time it wasn’t so easy, and it came about only after the research periods were behind and the perspectives of premiere got very concrete.

I played around with very complicated, long and poetic titles, which are my usual preference. but I ended up choosing “Piece about disappearance”. I thought it reflects better the apparent simplicity of the work. treating the title with the same straightforwardness of the structure and movement materials, not trying to embellish it. to my suprise some friends already found this a long and complicated title. I had to think that’s nothing compared to “La vejez de las paredes una negra sonrisa de alegria un rincon apacible un modo diferente de conspirar de conocer la vida un poco envenenada” or “smaller, slower, unproductive and resentful”.

I also like the idea that “Piece about disappearance” plays explicitly with a history of other titles of my previous work. at this point I think the connection to “Disappear”, “Disappear 2009” or “Half of the piece about disapparing” should be obvious…

conditions of production

this project is produced by us artists connecting different networks of support, rather than by one production house or main subsidy. over the year and a half I’ve been working in this project this has conditioned our working dynamics, sometimes to my pleasure and sometimes to my suffering. in any case I’m proud and interested in what’s happened during this process. we had long periods of wait in between the times of concrete work in the studio (research and rehearsals), and there’s much to learn from the experience. on one hand it’s been interesting to have long periods of organically processing thoughts and experiences. we didn’t need to rush because… we couldn’t. I think there’s a maturity derived from that, and almost a interesting position of resistance to the demands of the conventional economy of the arts which dictates that we should generate (succesful) products in as short as possible a period of work. a standard would be to have a 6-8 weeks process of work. I started in January 2010, and many thoughts can be traced earlier.
on the other hand this was not the result of planned decisions but rather a way to deal with circumstances and the lack of resources. there’s a good learning there also in terms of enterprising strategies. but it also produced a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, and for now I won’t accept the idea that that state is necessary for an artist to be productive. crises often stimulate creativity, but I think it’s unfair to take for granted that that’s how artists should be working.
so, the latest aspect update on this side of things is that we ended up working for one intensive week in Germany. William invited Ingrid and me to participate in the frame of his research residency, in which he has been sharing artistic practices with other artists. so we stayed with him in Essen for 1 week and had a very intense and productive time.
before that, the course followed by this project included a first research phase in residency at Fabrik Potsdam (October 2010, 3 weeks) and a second one at Dansmakers Asmterdam (November 2010, 2 weeks). there’s been periods of pre-production and conceptualization before and after that, and in the meantime Het Veem theater agreed to co-produce this work. In that frame we will have our premiere on May 6, 2011. after 2 shows in Het Veem (Amsterdam) we will see how we can go on. there are no other performances planned for now, but hopefully the work can later on be showed in other venues or festivals. finally, for this presentations in Amsterdam we got support from the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK), in the form of a small subsidy that will help cover costs of these performances.