Siobhan Davies + Francis Alÿs

“Observation is a very big part of my work. All the works I have done come from observation. Most often they are not recreating found situations, but the ingredients come from very specific observed scenes ” Francis Alÿs, Artist
  • FA _ Out of any work a visual artist is likely to produce, I would say more than 90% of its perception will happen through documentation and not the live event, documentation being a film, a photograph, a text, any possible media. But the people who might be witnessing the actual event or the action is a ridiculous minority. That questions from the very first moment whether the work is a found situation, or staged, or a fiction. There is always a debate, a questioning of documentation, especially today, where anything done can be manipulated. We have lost any trust in images, so what you see is not representing reality any more in terms of video or a photograph. The question of having to cross that barrier between the thing that is being staged and making that further contact is a given you play with and either you use it or you ignore it.
  • SD _ I think my original question involved my resistance at the moment to being seen in the theatre. I think the theatre is a tremendous place to make work for, but it is very familiar ground and in order to push at that familiarity, while performing in a theatre, I find myself overstretching all the mediums involved, exaggerating them in order to make a mark. If I take the work away from that frame I can drop some of the effort and the display of talent. I can present something more directly. When I look at your work my joy is in the simplicity of the thinking and the action and the positive disturbance the action gives me. Can I ask you the question, are you aware of the word choreography in your work and do you use it?
  • FA _ It’s probably not the first word I would think of, but yes, there are works where ultimately we ended up provoking a situation that could be read as choreography.
  • SD _ I am not thinking of the guards (Seven Walks, London – Guards 2004-05), because its subject is about soldiers gradually collecting together in a formation. It has obvious choreographic connotations - in fact I know the film appeared in Live Screen at Sadler’s Wells in London.
  • FA _ I was trying to write instructions for an act to be performed.
  • SD _ Those instructions to the people involved can be choreographic. I work collaboratively with the dancers. I think you also work collaboratively.
  • FA _ Yes.
  • SD _ I and the dancers will work out the kind of instructions that we would like our minds and bodies to have to deal with in order to resource movement that will eventually go into a structure which is the choreography. Have you got any instance of your instructions?
  • FA _ No, but you make me think about another element that slightly differentiates the equation. The instructions often have to do with whoever is instructed having to perform something that is presenting a problem that he has to solve in the course of the performance, but for me that problem usually has a social component which is given by the context.
  • SD _ Can you give an example?
  • FA _ If you take the example of the piece with the gun (Re-enactments 2000)
  • SD _ Yes.
  • FA _ You set up a situation, you have no real expectation as to how it will unfold or for how long, there is no duration involved, yet you know that there is a conflict.
  • SD _ There is an anticipation?
  • FA _ Yes, there is a conflict in a very dramatic way.
  • SD _ Can you explain the story?
  • FA _ Even more than the story, it is the set up: someone walks into a shop, in this case it is in the centre of Mexico City, buys a gun, loads it up and walks in the street and sees how far he can get without somebody interfering. The conflict will be resolved in this case by the society the performer is involved in. It could have different outcomes. The answer to the premise of the piece is given by the context. If there is any unknown element within the piece, it is that specific ingredient that is completely out of my control, except that I happen to know that territory very well. Should I have done it in the centre of Shanghai it would have been a different piece, but unlike a situation where, for instance I am in your studio upstairs. I think it would be more difficult to bring in that interaction which is the missing element, but is the key element to make the piece happen.
  • SD _ You regularly place your work outside four walls. My work traditionally stays in the studio. I have enjoyed the protection of the studio, the silence, the concentration. It has allowed me to delve into the whole geography of the body and work with dancers to find out what movement tells us. But the animation that you bring to your work by taking the body - well, not even taking the body - by allowing us to see a person outside in situations that have been initially structured or framed…
  • FA _ It’s very funny that, in your own words, when you talk about inside you talk about ‘the body’ and when you bring us outside you talk about ‘a person’. I think that’s where the difference happens. I never think in terms of bodies, I think in terms of individuals within situations, which brings in the social component
  • SD _ No, that is a lapse and I think the reason I make that reference is because sometimes the dancer’s body, or my body has felt like an underknown but fascinating territory which I can explore and gain knowledge through and has given me pleasure, so that the language of the body doesn’t only have to be the self expression of the person. If you want a dancer as an artist to last for forty or fifty years, they don’t only want to express themselves, in the same way as you don’t necessarily want to express yourself. So, the dancers’ medium, is…
  • FA _ …the body…
  • SD _ …is the body. To some extent I think we have a tendency to slightly abstract the body in order to work with it and integrate it into the whole person.
  • FA _ But you do build a character… It’s very distinctive, how in certain pieces, it is more body, but there’s flesh…
  • SD _ Yes, flesh and bone, but also imagination and history.
  • FA _ …whereas in other pieces you start spotting characters within the players and it’s a completely different stage in the reading when you start isolating one individual within the collectivity. It’s probably where the shift happens in between the private and public…
  • SD _ …and the abstract and the figurative, because some of the things you talk about in your work are when certain rhythms or timings come into play. Let me just look up one thing I wanted to ask you which you said in a conversation with Russell Ferguson: ‘Animation is all about timing…’ and you go on to mention ‘…episodes, allegories or parables that staged that experience of time’. (Interview in Francis Alÿs, published by Phaidon 2007, p18).
  • SD _ Listen Timing is something that from our dance perspective we like to understand well. The precise timing of a movement or a phrase makes it more or less potent, so you are very conscious about how something is timed?
  • FA _ I am certainly interested in the understanding of time and it is something that has kept me fascinated with my adopted culture in Mexico, because I felt the time perception was different there, beyond the cliché of the mañana. I am speaking about a social phenomenon I felt there. From an historical perspective, time is perceived differently and lived differently and I would even say the need to control time is different. So I have used timing as a tool, delaying time or creating an ellipsis into time to render my perception of time in Mexico or in certain parts of Latin America. You remind me of something, which I think I have touched on vaguely in some of those books you have there, about timing and animation which has to do with choreography, at least in its classical expectation, which is a lot about harmony and synchronisation of bodies. The fundament of animation in terms of the synchronism between sound and movement is an odd one because to create the illusion of synchronisation between time and image you cheat. I think you perceive sound quicker than image.
  • FA _ Image To reach the illusion of the synchronisation between a ping on an instrument and the image of my finger touching this glass, my finger touching the glass will be a fraction of a second before the sound because my perception of the image is slower than my perception of the sound: my ear is quicker in perceiving the information than my eye is. So to make my finger synchronise with the sound, the image of my finger will be probably ten frames before the sound of it, because by the time the information of my finger touching the glass has reached my brain I am ready to hear the sound. What you do usually when you work on animation is that you synchronise everything and at the last minute you phase the two tracks.
  • SD _ The sensual relationship between watching movement and hearing sound - I would like to understand that more than I do.
  • SD _ I wondered, if we hear music while watching movement, does the music give us the first information, so the movement can be secondary in the sensual understanding of the complete form. I asked a neuroscientist and he thought that primitively the ears had to hear faster because of danger behind you so that the aural information had to arrive in your brain sooner than the visual information for your survival. There is a piece of yours where the action of a car going up a steep hill is dictated by music. Can you tell me more about this? (Rehearsal I, 1999-2001, in collaboration with Rafael Ortega).
  • FA _ The mechanics are very simple. I suggested the musical scenario to musicians. They try to translate it into a musical score and while they are rehearsing the musical proposition I am recording that session which I am then using as virtually the partition for the image. The equation is very simple: when the musicians play the car goes up. When they lose track and start stumbling the car goes down and that’s where the more staged part enters. The musical phrase is meant to cover just about enough for the car to reach the top. It can actually but being a rehearsal I think it never does. So you always stay within this oscillation in between, like a pendulum movement, which is about time in the sense that it is about delaying but it is also about time because you are always within this kind of metronome movement, to invert the pendulum.
  • SD _ You seem to be able to demonstrate the anticipation of beginnings. You start somewhere, you have the idea of the end but you introduce an interference within that phrase which makes the reversal happen which is both musical and choreographic. We know of the potential of the phrase which would be the car reaching the summit but each attempt is a different length.
  • FA _ After a while, what I am saying is you start oscillating yourself. You forget about the mechanics of the piece and you are entering this kind of lullaby space. You just take a back seat and that is where eventually you accede to that different time perception, which is in between two worlds of space. This is what I see representing very much a certain way of society to function in Latin America, to define itself against the speed effect of more westernised imported society.
  • SD _ In a way are you documenting this period of time through these slivers of information?
  • FA _ I think it is more than documenting. There are always attempts at revealing the perception of time. It is certainly subjective. It is my perception as a westerner finding himself after twenty years in a society which I feel has fundamentally different rules and understanding of time. Documenting…?
  • SD _ …well I know documenting is a bit of a formal word.
  • FA _ No, no, no, it’s a good word. Documenting would mean that you are trying to… it’s not testify, but demonstrate that something can be the truth, I don’t know if it is the truth.
  • FA _ Then maybe you are the observer, because there seems to be a collection of observations.
  • FA _ Observation is a very big part of my work. All the works I have done are coming from observation. Most often they are not recreating found situations, but the ingredients come from very specific observed scenes. It is a glimpse usually which makes you understand the potential of the situation and you want to try to make it grow, to explore as far as we can the possibilities of that moment. Usually it is some kind of very simple contact point between two or ten or whatever individuals within often very busy social contexts.
  • SD _ So tell me a little bit about, let’s say collecting the sleeping people. (Sleepers 1999-2006). You had an idea that you would photograph from a particular angle sleeping people and sleeping dogs.
  • FA _ How did that start! I am trying to remember how that started.
  • SD _ The question goes a bit further just in case it helps. You have photographed the sleeping people from one particular low camera angle and physically the pleasure for me is the feeling of weight and that dogs look heavier than men even though they can’t be.
  • FA _ Do they?
  • SD _ The dogs look so incredibly weighty! The dogs look as if they are welded to the ground, whereas the people look as if they are asleep.
  • FA _ That’s interesting.
  • SD _ Then there is another work, (Patriotic Tales 1997) where you have something which is visually very beautifully set up, the powerful image of the sheep following you around the pole. (Sorry, I know these are slightly older works.)
  • FA _ That’s alright.
  • SD _ So you would have had to have carefully arranged this accumulation of sheep and then the removing of them one by one.
  • FA _ Yes.
  • SD _ But the sleeping men and dogs are about you randomly collecting images of people that you just found.
  • FA _ Yes, absolutely.
  • SD _ Apart from you being very clear that you wanted to do one subject and then you wanted to do the other subject, and one set of images is found and one is made, is there something you can say about that?
  • FA _ I am trying to see if one was eventually found and one was made. Clearly the people sleeping on the street, it’s my route. I know it because I recognise the location of course, but it’s not as if I go out with the camera and say ‘okay, today I am going to try to gather fifteen photographs’. A lot of my work has to do with visiting people and the studio for me - because you mentioned the studio earlier - is like an HQ more than anything. It’s a meeting place, it’s a place where you store information.
  • SD _ You make a map of your city and then go places?
  • FA _ Yes, It is a place to recharge and eventually provoke sessions where I did a big process and then everybody goes back to his home base. But maybe the same thing could be said about London, It is one of those places, Mexico, where you spend a lot of your time in between and the sleepers are certainly in that in between space and that is really for me the creative space, when I leave home, go to the studio and from there go to the editing studio. As soon as you are inside you are subject to all kinds of interactions that make you lose that private space, which is where I process ideas and I am much more alert to anything happening around me.
  • FA _ I think the sleepers were something that I just encountered which had this glimpse effect. You can look at them, but you don’t look at them. You have only seen it for a fraction of a second yet you have fully perceived the situation.
  • SD _ So are you in a way trying to make the periphery noticed?
  • FA _ Yes. Certainly there was a use of the public space, an appropriation of the public space which I was interested in, the way those people are just saying, ‘I am going to sleep here’. Sleeping is a very private space, yet they do it anyway and they seem to find it both acceptable and possible. Some of them are sleeping sometimes in the middle of – in between – two quite heavy streets.
  • SD _ There is a man sleeping with half his body on the pavement and half his body in the gutter.
  • FA _ Yes and there seems to be no concern about that either from the people around him or himself.
  • SD _ …but the sheep?
  • FA _ …I think you know, those sleepers - and I am saying it from having been away for a while - it is a little bit like in the same way a dog is peeing to mark his territory, it is a way for me to frame and mark my own territory as an outsider or as someone who has been an outsider and is still constantly trying to rediscover his place in an adopted neighbourhood.
  • FA _ The sheep, how did the sheep happen? The sheep was referring to some kind of…
  • SD _ Wasn’t it related to a gathering, people forced together in a square during a difficult political period?
  • FA _ Yes. It was a kind of a remake of an event that had happened but that had been virtually hidden by the government.
  • FA _ The situation was set up, yes. As in a theatre space, I think spontaneously people created a void around the action. The fact that there was a kind of choreography immediately created a respect of a territory. There was one person with a camera on a high point which was justfrom a window of a restaurant, but on the square I think there were three people. It is a massive square and it is a very busy square, so there is no way you can hold back hundreds of people, but naturally people withdrew and created the inside, outside room for us to do the work, which is maybe what choreography provokes still. I mean you are inside or you are outside, you are watching or you are participating, but there is little space in between for this, the popular understanding of what choreography is, which you could translate into active and passive or projecting and recipient.
  • SD _ I think that’s an area that I am trying to look at.
  • FA _ I can see that you are trying to break that.
  • SD _ I would just like to understand it or see it or experience it in a different way.
  • FA _ …and that’s often been talked about by performers. A lot of performers are trying to fill that gap or create that context because the nature of their work needs to include some kind of endurance factor. You know you can only sustain the effort with the help or energy of the public. You are probably familiar with the work of Marina Abramovic?
  • SD _ Yes.
  • FA _ I think her work is fundamentally sustained by her need to be watched. You can see it in a nearly idolitary way. She is a fantastic public character whether you meet her in a restaurant, or she gives a talk or you see her performing. She knows she is a good performer and she needs the public’s attention to exist as a performer. If you take her out of that space I don’t know how long she could sustain the effort or the conviction to sustain the effort. But it works because it breaks the gap or the kind of screen shown in between the audience and the artist. You become a participant without even knowing it because you know that she needs you.
  • SD _ One of the dancers I am working with, Catherine Bennett, talks about a dilemma that we can have: that when a dancer is fully articulate, is using a body that has been developed by specific learning, they can be perceived as being under an enchantment because they are somehow within a slightly different body at a different place, even within a different use of time. We have found knowledge about how to move and how to bring together imagination and action. At the same time it can be seen as a removal by someone watching. So the balance, the cusp is, I need to pull back from some of the learning in order that we don’t remain in the bubble, in the enchantment. On the other hand I don’t want to move completely away from extended actions and enter solely into the pedestrian, however rich our everyday physical language is. At the moment there is this very exciting pull and push between how much do I need to lose, how much should I lose, how much do I gain.
  • FA _ Yes, I understand.
  • FA _ But that itself… let’s think back to the word ‘enchantment’. One of the questions one wonders when you see choreography or when I was watching yours is how much of the movement between the different players is foreseen, how much of it is part of a vocabulary which they have decided was the appropriate one for the situation and the interaction between the different players, but in terms of the order of those gestures or attitudes, how much of it is controlled, planned ahead and how much of it is just, you know, you’ve got seven colours that you can use, the order doesn’t matter?
  • SD _ It’s both. Can you remember which piece you are thinking of?
  • FA _ Which one was the one before the bird song for example?
  • SD _ In the middle of Bird Song is a silence, either side of the bird song (Bird Song 2004). Within the silence each of the dancers had understood and embodied their individual rhythm. Each one of them chose that rhythm to improvise around. The audience never hears the sounds that initiated it. The dancer made that rhythm their language as if that was the only thing they had to express themselves. They could come on stage or off whenever they wanted, they could relate to another member of the company or not, they could stay at the edge, they could move into the space…
  • FA _ …and that is something that has been performed several times or just once?
  • SD _ Several times and it was different each time, subtly but completely different. Some dancers wouldn’t enter the space one night, some nights they’d all turn up, or they’d all stay at the edge or they’d all be in a corner. The fascinating thing was that the audience quite often got restless during the silent improvisation, partly because of the silence and partly because during the improvisation the dancers didn’t know their destiny and I think the audience felt that.
  • FA _ They felt it?
  • SD _ I think so.
  • FA _ Okay. It’s funny because I think that that would make the contact. I would feel closer to the performers if I knew that they don’t plan ahead. In terms of my simultaneity with them I would feel much more in sync with their existence if I know that they don’t know themselves what is going to come next because in a sense it places them in the same situation as me.
  • SD _ Yes, and I think that is something both the group of dancers I am working with and myself are very aware of. On the other hand there have been a couple of things that we have done in which we discombobulated actions in the body. We had to set them in order to really do the discordance and we learned a lot by forcing ourselves through this unnatural discordance. If we remain all the time in the improvisatory state there can be a tendency to follow an existing pattern because of knowledge that has become part of you. So occasionally, alongside the immediate response, we put ourselves under the stress of reorganisation and setting something in order to allow the body to find a new set of connections, therefore a new set of emotional possibilities, communicative possibilities.
  • FA _ I understand that you need - what is the word you used instead of improvisation, you just used a word?
  • SD _ I did, I said ‘instant responses’.
  • FA _ Yes, ‘instant responses’ doesn’t need to confront an infinity of options. The random factor can be limited to this and this .
  • SD _ I think also that with performers you can arrive at each of those moments with a complete freshness that brings with it an accuracy. I think also in the work that we do the dancer and the audience understand that it is the decision making that enlivens performance.
  • FA _ Yes, that I can perceive. That would make you closer to me. Whether that would resolve the problem of the kind of rendezvous that I had to go to in order to see that. So probably the conditioning of the spectator knowing that he will be going to see a spectacle…
  • SD _ … in a theatre, that already primes the situation.
  • FA _ Yes, because it builds up an expectation beforehand. I only ever did once really a public event in the full sense of the word.
  • SD _ What was that?
  • FA _ When I did a work involving a striptease artist in a stripper joint in New York which was also based on the mechanics of rehearsal. (Rehearsal 2 2001-06)
  • FA _ It was interesting because I did it twice, once quite casually in a place in Mexico and then I was asked to restage it in New York for a performance festival. On that occasion it was an announced event: people came, arrived an hour before etc and it was completely different. The scenario itself was exactly the same and again it was the same mechanics as the beetle car going up and down. You’ve got a piano player, a soprano and a stripper. The musicians rehearse, while the soprano sings the stripper undresses. When the musicians stop or go wrong the stripper puts her clothes back on. It is an endless triptych. Again it has very simple mechanics so that the public can right away engage with the plot, yet the time factor is completely unknown.
  • FA _ In that case particularly there was an endurance factor because the singer can only last for so long. There is only so long you can put one singer on a stage. But the fact that it had been a - I’m calling it ‘rendezvous’ because I can’t find a better word - I mean people were gathering for a specific occasion.
  • SD _ They gathered on time for an experience…
  • FA _ …and I stressed that condition.
  • SD _ A contrived meeting point…
  • FA _ …by asking them to dress up. I can’t remember the exact words, but they would need to take extra time to prepare themselves to come to the event and that conditioned them even more into their expectations. I wanted to take it to the other extreme because I had never experienced that. I found it excruciating as the instigator I must say, to do it like that.
  • SD _ You hated it?
  • FA _ It was very interesting when we repeated the same plot within a completely different occasion. I suppose I found it excruciating because for me it was predictable because I knew too well the mechanics of the piece by then. I very rarely do an event twice. I was all the time preceding the audience’s perception, but at the same time I felt completely exposed in a way that I never did in terms of my own works, which is absurd. When you do any performance in the public sphere, there are probably many more people actually witnessing your acting, but somewhere it becomes just another ingredient in the urban context.
  • FA _ It depends on the cities I suppose, but a city like Mexico where there are lots of odd situations that can be encountered, to push a block of ice if I take that as an example (Paradox of Praxis 1 1997), something I did, is no different from many other things you will encounter along the way. If anything it makes you belong to that place more than being the outsider or the odd one.
  • SD _ I think I understand more and more as you speak why your work enters into me. I am thinking of an image like a membrane and sometimes with ‘made’ work, we want it to rise through the membrane, to be framed in a way, to be articulate at any moment that it is witnessed. Below the membrane is all the stuff of life and it seems to me that you allow me to enter into the stuff of life and you happen to frame it for me so that I am able to observe it but it is still in the stuff of the city. It makes me see more.
  • FA _ See more or look differently?
  • SD _ Both. I wouldn’t look differently if I didn’t see it.
  • FA _ No, no. I am saying it because I think some of the works are trying to provoke this moment of distance, especially when they are addressed to a local audience. When you export a work, it’s a whole different life.
  • SD _ It is unstrung.
  • FA _ It is a real test of the work if it survives that process, in the sense that it is keeping its essence, it is not becoming exotic because it is out of its original context. It becomes something completely different. It does happen, certain works being exported completely lose their original identity and are read for something else. In the right circumstances the absurdity of the act often attracts the attention of the viewer, or the passer by and makes him see differently, just for a second. That is the moment that I am often looking for.
  • SD _ It is like the opening and closing of a shutter of a camera. Something is more accessible to you at that instant.
  • FA _ But in choreography you can get that too. Often it’s because within this kind of situation that you are watching, you know you connect to it, but you can’t read the codes. Sometimes there are moments where you recognise the codes for an instant and that creates a spark and that is all you need to be part of it, to keep the contact. Whether that little spark happens every three minutes, three seconds etc is completely out of your control - and my control, because it has to do with my own history.
  • SD _ Yes and what you bring to the situation at that particular moment.
  • FA _ What will move me when I am watching this succession of moments will at the end have to do with my own emotional background.
  • SD _ …and what your receptivity is in that moment.
  • FA _ Yes, but receptivity and also a certain kind of ‘tendresse’, I don’t know how you say that…
  • SD _ Tendresse is perfect.
  • FA _ … in front of those people I am watching, because for me they will always be individuals, characters, I mean very quickly I’ll start to differentiate them, rightly or wrongly.
  • SD _ I think everybody does. There are individuals with their own histories on stage. It just happens that not only are they an individual character but they are using this medium, their whole body and that medium allows them in a way to extend beyond their history because they use a slightly more abstract understanding of their bodies in terms of ‘can I time it this way, can I place it, can I push it that way, can I imagine beyond myself.’
  • FA _ How do you start when you start first of all - I don’t know how you call it - a play, a situation?
  • SD _ Well I don’t know what we call it, we say a game, a situation. We started this week, Sarah and I. Sarah is triggered by words. To start shifting the energy sapping feeling in an empty studio we needed energy. We began to take one minute to write short phrases about a second, a minute, an hour, a year. Then we did the same writings about different places within a building. We did this several times and then began to collect combinations of words or phrases that could be used as a plan.
  • FA _ It is interesting because it is quite a structured process in a sense?
  • SD _ We are preparing work for the Victoria Miro Gallery. I think the structure was put in place to begin the work, like using a plug to put electricity in a kettle – eventually the steam that is produced is freer. We were kick starting ourselves because early movement material tells us about where we are or where we are not.
  • FA _ What is the invitation at Victoria Miro?
  • SD _ Our idea is that we would have dance artists working at the Victoria Miro Gallery and that a visual artist would show work in our dance studio. The point is that a visual artist and dance artists bring what they can to the different spaces.
  • FA _ Somehow coincide in the knowledge of the existence of each other?
  • SD _ Yes, exactly.
  • FA _ It will be interesting because there have only been so many answers to that out of one being subjected to the other.
  • SD _ It is the juxtaposition not the subjection. It is that a visual art audience will go to the Victoria Miro Gallery but instead of seeing what they might expect they will see a dancer moving at any point during the day. Then they will come to a dance studio but they will see a visual artist’s idea in a dance space. I suppose it’s the animation of thinking that gets me going.
  • FA _ …and also the sort of tension you are creating between those two spaces, those two mini factories of ideas, which sadly are each of them working very much within their own world.
  • SD _ They do.
  • FA _ Do you think that historically the different disciplines of the arts used to be more connected, in particular dance and theatre and visual arts? I know that to take the recent history and the golden age of the sixties and seventies there were many more things between the disciplines.
  • SD _ There were more, yes. Is it to do with the economy of it all?
  • FA _ Economy doesn’t help.
  • SD _ But I think there is a genuine interest from artists right now to understand and challenge definitions. I think this is partly what these conversations are about.
  • FA _ It is very much a matter of definition in terms of where you decide you are standing. I have the same discussion going on often with friends of mine who are working in documentary filming and others who are film makers but actually fundamentally the work is very similar, it is just where you decide you belong. If I look at choreographed works, to put it in brackets, many performances belonging to what you would call the contemporary art scene, it’s very, very, similar. It is virtually a matter of how you want to frame the act you are performing and how you want to call it. But the mechanics are the same. I am sorry, but the animals performing are the same and the language and the limits of the language are the same. The stereotypes in our readings are the same. It’s only a matter of where does the little… (snaps fingers)
  • SD _ …click happen that make one one art form and one another.
  • FA _ Yes, the click or the little accident happening in one or the other? I hate to say it, but it is true that my reading of any choreographic work will be more conditioned than my reading of a lot of the performance work I have been watching.
  • SD _ And I am trying to look at that.
  • FA _ It might have to do too – and that’s a sad thing to say from the visual arts point of view – that within your field I think people are more rigorous in that they are more demanding of themselves.
  • SD _ They are demanding.
  • FA _ Artists can be much more lax and much more self indulgent, maybe to a point of excess sometimes, that does create this ice in between us, where there is such a high level of expectation that you yourself create that it isolates you a little bit. On the other hand artists can be way too self indulgent. Sometimes it is the humanity of their failure that makes them so accessible, but that is another extreme which is not necessarily an answer either and that is why there might be in both disciplines such an enormous amount of discarded material, so many attempts for so few great moments.
  • SD _ You are so right and thank you very, very much for this conversation.

A transcript version of the interview not revised by the artist