The Platform was held on Monday January 12, 2009 1pm to 5pm
“Changing Role of the Performer in the 21st Century”
The Wild Project (NYC)
195 East 3rd Street
New York, NY 10009
Five perspectives on the role of the performer in America.
On January 12, 2009, Big Art Group in coordination with the Advancing Performing Arts Project initiative begun by Szene Salzburg organization of Salzburg, Austria, held a platform in New York City on the topic of the changing role of the performer in the 21st Century. Because the platform coincided with the annual American conference “APAP”–the Association of Performing Arts Presenters — Big Art Group invited a selection of performers who were in town to drop by the Wild Project, a new “green theatre” space in Manhattan’s East Village, for an artist-to-artist forum, open to the public about this issue. The format included a discussion between artists in the broad field of performance (including theatre, video art, and dance) around this open-ended question to engage each other and the public in a ongoing conversation. The guests artists included Kusil-ja Wang, Thaddeus Phillips, A.L. Steiner and Robbinschilds, DD Dorvillier, and Trajel Harrel.
1:00pm – Koosil-ja Wang
Koosil-ja was born in Osaka, Japan of Korean parentage. After moving to New York in 1981 to study dance with Merce Cunningham, she became a member of the Wendy Perron Dance Company from 1987 to 1989. She has a skill for Mental Calculation level 1 (1-kyu) obtained at the age 10.
Koosil-ja has received five National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer Fellowships and three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. She has provided residency activities at Harvestworks in NYC, The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, and in Mexico through the National Endowment for the Arts’ International Program and the Mexican government.
Her work has been presented in New York by such venues as the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center; The Kitchen; La MaMa E.T.C.; Aaron Davis Hall; Performance Space 122; The Performing Garage; Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church; Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; Central Park SummerStage; Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria; and LMCC’s Swing Space. Nationally, she has been presented by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA; Dance Umbrella, Austin, TX; Diverseworks, Houston, TX; Jumpstart, San Antonio, TX; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN; American Dance Festival, Durham, NC; the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; and On The Board, Seattle, WA. International touring has included performances at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; the European Dance Development Center and Schowburg in Arnhem, The Netherlands; The Rieti International Festival in Rieti, Italy; and at various venues in The Netherlands and Germany.
2:00pm – AL Steiner and Robbinschilds
robbinschilds (Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins) have presented choreographed and video works since 2003 that explore the relationship between architecture and human movement in venues including The Kitchen, P.S. 122, Marfa Ballroom, and Autumn Skatebowl. Most recently, robbinschilds was commissioned to create original choreography for musicians David Byrne and Brian Eno for their world concert tour, and will premiere a new evening-length work at The Kitchen in May 2009. http://www.robbinschilds.com
A.L. Steiner is a Brooklyn-based artist whose photo and video installations, curatorial, and performance work has been presented internationally. Steiner is a member of the collective Chicks on Speed and co-curator of Ridykeulous. She is represented by Taxter & Spengemann, New York.http://www.taxterandspengemann.com
C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience) is a collaboration between artists A.L. Steiner and robbinschilds (Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins), AJ Blandford, and Kinski. The artists visit locales ranging from desolate desert landscapes to darkened parking lots, responding to the environment and capturing the results of these interactions. The subsequent videos are choreographed patterns, crafted through the use of carefully timed jump cuts that divide the piece into discrete, color-coded sections. In C.L.U.E., robbinschilds is costumed in rainbow hues as they perform a series of choreographed duets to an instrumental rock score by the Seattle-based band Kinski. The symbiotic relationship between Steiner, robbinschilds, AJ Blandford, and Kinski propels the narrative of the video and encourages the viewer to accompany them on their journey. Shifting shape while generating new elements is essential for C.L.U.E., and enables it to continually evolve as a work permanently in progress.
3:00pm – Thaddeus Phillips
Thaddeus Phillips – USA (director, designer, co-creator) is a director, performer and set designer who received his B.A. from Colorado College and attended DAMU (Alternative & Puppet Theater Faculty) at the Charles University in Prague. He is a protégé of Bulgarian scene designer Encho Avramov, and studied with tap master Jimmy Payne and Czech Puppet Theater Director Josef Krofta. He has directed, created & designed THE MeLTING BRiDgE, Flamingo/Winnebago, Red-Eye to Havre de Grace and The Earth’s Sharp Edge for Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. In 2004 he created a work about a Colombian Doorman in collaboration with Colombian TV actors called ¡El Conquistador! which was performed at New York Theatre Workshop and toured to Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and 11 cities in Spain. For his performance as Polonio in ¡El Conquistador!, he was nominated for at Drama League Award (outstanding performance in New York) and a Lucille Lortel award (outstanding solo show Off-Broadway) and a Hewes Award (for his design work on ¡El Conquistador!) Other works include Lost Soles, Henry Five (Live from Times Square), PlanetLear and The Tempest. His work has (cont’d) been presented by On The Boards (Seattle), The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, The Arcola Theatre (London), La MaMa (New York), The New Haven Festival of Arts & Ideas, Buntport Theatre (Denver), Manitou Art Theater (Manitou Springs, Colorado), Bryn Mawr College, The Colorado College and the University of Pittsburg at Bradford. He was also a writer and performer in Robert Lepage’s The Geometry of Miracles which played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and at The Royal National Theater in London as well as Paris, Singapore, Jerusalem, Salzburg, Lisbon, Iowa City, Montreal, Toronto, Barcelona, Madrid and Udine, Italy. He is a 2002 Pew fellow and has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Independence Foundation. He is from Denver, Colorado.
4:00pm – DD Dorvillier
DD Dorvillier is a choreographer, performer, and teacher. Based in New York City since 1989, her work has been presented by The Kitchen, PS122, Danspace Project, and Dance Theater Workshop in NYC, as well as internationally in Australia, Spain, France, Austria, Japan, Croatia, Holland, and Russia. She has been affiliated with Movement Research, as a teacher, an Artist in Residence, a co-editor of its Performance Journal, and co-curator of the Movement Research Festival ‘04 and ‘05. She has taught dance worldwide since 1995. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship recipient, double New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award winner (Dressed for Floating, 2002), and a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Arts Fellowship. She has worked with Jennifer Monson, Jennifer Lacey, Sarah Michelson, Yvonne Meier, Karen Finley, Alain Buffard, Jan Ritsema, Peter Jacobs, and Boaz Barkan, among others. She is currently performing in Parades & Changes, replays, a reconstruction of Anna Halprin’s seminal Parades & Changes (1965), initiated by French choreographer Anne Collod, in collaboration with Anna Halprin, as well as performing in Jennifer Lacey/Nadia Lauro’s, Les Asistantes. Her most recent work Choreography, a Prologue for the Apocalypse of Understanding, Get Ready! plays at Dance Theater Workshop through January 17.
4:30pm – Trajal Harrell
TRAJAL HARRELL’s work has been seen at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project (New York, NY), The Kitchen (New York, N’Y), CNDC Angers (Angers, France), Melkweg Theater (Amsterdam), P.S. 122 (New York, NY), Dance Mission (San Francisco, CA), Cornell University- Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts (Ithaca, NY), and Art Basel-Miami Beach (Miami, FL), among others. He has been a guest artist in the studios of Mains d’oeuvre (St. Ouen France) and Le centre national de la danse (Paris, France.) In 2005, Trajal was one of four emerging international choreographers chosen for The Choreographic Window Project at Tanz im August-International Tanzfest Berlin and, in 2006, invited as a participant in The Choreographer’s Venture/Impulstanz Vienna International Dance Festival. As a dancer, he performed in the New York version of Alain Buffard’s Mauvais Genre during the Spring 2006 season. He has been an artist-in-residence at The White Oak Residency and Dance Center, Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Rousillon, Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté à Belfort, Centre National de Danse Contemporaine Angers, TanzWerkstatt-Berlin, Movement Research, and Bennington College. During 2009, he will be in residency in Belgium at Workspace Brussels and Wp Zimmer (Antwerp). Currently, he is the guest artist editor-in-chief of The Movement Research Performance Journal and last year was appointed as co-artistic mentor for the 2008 DanceWeb program at Impulstanz Vienna International Dance Festival.
Kusil-ja Wang opened with a quote from the Deleuzian Mackenzie, saying that “one of the prominent moves in Western philosophy is the darkening of certainty. In other words, it is the idea that things might not be as they seem; and that through the frame of speculative reasoning, one might arrive at something more true than mere appearances. Traditionally it has been expressed in the form of a spoken dialogue or written text, but what if we tried to expand its range to incorporate new kinds of media. Might the more reflective, self-critical media practice be more possible?”
She divides her work into components: “back end,” the conceptual body, and the “front end,” what the audience sees on stage. The Back End has no image, or image with no image, which lives in her mind, a thought without a sound. The Front End is seen and recognized. The Back End becomes images through a performance system which she calls “Live Processing,” defined as an external force by which the dancer’s body is uninitiated. Each time the dancer practices live processing, the dancer’s body is conditioned to become subconscious. For her most current project, she is focusing on image and perception, as they are projected on the body.
Body, Image, and Algorithm. In her latest project, Wang wanted to depict attributions and play with perceptions using digital media. For the project, she has created a 3D space in which a group of animators and modelers are creating environments for 3 avatars. The project will be non-narrative, although it borrows from cinema, with the dancers on stage controlling the motion of the avatars. To explore attributions or images that we project on the body, she creates environments for each avatar, in order to play with the manner in which images are perceived, to explore the possibility of removing or substituting the image from the body. She uses elements of cinema as a field of an experiment, and separates elements of narrative and dance from a story; separates face from the body; the body from identity, policitics, and capitalism; and productivity from the body, or images of the body.
She demonstrated through video documentation an older piece that was performed at the Kitchen to elaborate more about “Live Processing.” On a stage divided by a screen, two dancers watch bundles of three displays, scanning images from each cluster of displays and react. Audience are divided as well, sitting back to back in the space. Cameras capture the dancers and send each segment to the other half of the performing space.
The dancers are saturated and overloaded with the video images, without time to judge, they have to “extend their training or preference” to make rapid decisions. As the dancers perform, the video monitors become part of the dancers body, constantly moved by this external force. The images are randomly chosen each time they rehearse and perform (although the images might repeat and become familiar with certain clips from intensive rehearsal), and recombined every time in each video cluster. In the process of response, Wang describes that the more the dancer is an “empty conduit,” the better the dancer can “grab” and “render:” the equivalent of performing. Information has to continually pass through the body, the body and mind becoming a pass-through to the end result of performance.
Differences between the dancers draws notice to the unique and individual processing that each makes. As the audience can see the videos, the video does not become a magic source to be hidden from the final choreography, but each dance is a process, done always for the first time for each performance event. Each night is an act of creation, of production.
Dorvillier began her lecture with a self-described performance for a ghost, showing behind her a video performance entitled “Wind X Three for Tony,” made by herself.
She announced that she would talk about love, as a topic that is rarely discussed in contemporary dance and performance. Dorvillier described her current piece, entitled “Choreography a prologue for the apocalypse of understanding; Get Ready,” as a “reverse orgasm.” She detailed a recent non-linguistic experience, which she described as a knowledge-intelligence sensation of knowing something and not being able to say it in words. She was struck with the irony of having a realization of the “ineffable” after making conceptual work for 20 years. She began the work paradoxically with the creation of a poem, a textual passage that is itself a mild abdication of “language that says no language” using words, prompting the performance to “proceed backwards” into a “vibratory-color-field-sound-movement-coalescence,” in which sound, movement, light become a unified experience.
Dorvillier expanded on the idea about looking at love as a phenomenon for the acquisition or production of knowledge. In this strategy, she relates sexuality and identity to the way that learning occurs, the process in which understanding the greater world happens personally, and the way that others understand the world and potentially learn.
Switching to the topic of the relationship between performance and the audience, Dorvillier begins her investigation from a self-referential standpoint. As she states it, “I accept the hypersubjectivity of my vision experience, I try to be fair to the audience, will they be able to follow me. Will they get lost, and will they enjoy getting lost?” (Dorvillier, January 12, 2009)
In a piece shown in Vienna at Impulstanz 2008, Dorvillier strove to work improvisationally in real time, without relying on mood or feeling. She built an internal structure of how to perform— trying to find a different way to relate to objects in real time with the body. She emphasized actions as proposals for an experience the audience would have rather than an experience that the artist would control for the audience. This would open up another side of storytelling, not as a romance of objects, between the audience and what the audience perceives. The goal was encapsulated in the title: “No Change or Freedom is a psychokinetic skill.”
In her process, she works with technical “stuff” in analogue way, “like using a stone to drive a nail into a fine teacup to fix it.” Cables, microphones, the materials of acoustic-electric tenchology are processed from a “neanderthal” approach. The performance serves an opportunity to wonder about the body being another (not object) possibility for arrangement and existence in space. Part of the discovery of the piece was an encoutner with the difficulty of really being a human being when the audience is present. To work through this, she as performer adopted a text of hypersubjectivity trying to be objective. Dorvillier describes it as a working through the “relationship between subject and object and subjective and objective, subjectified, subjectifying, being objectified, or objectifying oneself in one’s own body.”
The performance explores spaces made, internal structure, internal architecture, When the brute body meets these objects, it “gets in the way, which is a good thing.” All objects have contact mics so they are amplified, all interactions are exaggerated.
Dorvillier described the discovery of herself in a role called “a choreographer.” When she realized that this existed as a possibility, she gravitated to this practice: making things, with no way to stop. In the late 1980s she describes a strong influence of interdisciplinary work, of informal performance that would happen in clubs and galleries, and being intrigued by that work. For her own starting practice, she relied on that energy of “the Scene” to assemble the work. But as the geography and demographic of New York changed, through the AIDS epidemic and gentrification and shifting economies, her practice moved further into Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy, further away from the center which was no longer a center, as what had been the epicenter of the East Village hub fell apart.
“No Change…” marked a shift in her process: she accepted that “it doesn’t matter where I premiere it, there is something in this work that I know that I want to make, I made it autonomously, how I wanted to make something. Because it was a solo, I could determine for myself— I was not so afraid any more of lying on the floor for a very long time. My relationship to New York changed for that, I rented the venue, my relationship to my community changed.” She describes how she stopped relying on “the Scene,” and turned internally to rely on the work itself. She restates that relying on the Scene is quite important, was a major pillar of development, but highlights the difference: her work can sustain itself, can integrate itself into the community where it’s played.
A. L. Steiner and Robbinschilds,
Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins began as a performance duo in New York in 2003 with an interest in moving bodies and architecture/ built space. They also both share an interest in the process of creating through collaboration, and invited the visual artist A. L. Steiner into their process.
In the early stages of their performance career, they created works that occupied theatrical spaces, working with a space or imaginary location that amalgamated multiple spaces into elaborate sets. In “Broque,” they played on the idea of elaborate visual motifs and patterning, creating a corridor space in which they as dancers were camouflaged into their own installation. As they showed a video/slide show of the process and making of Broque, a small segment showed the pair rehearsing one of their dances inside a construction store, a performative event that proved germinal to their next piece, C.L.U.E. As the pair were rehearsing this segment of choreography in the commercial space, documented by Steiner, they were ejected from the location by the store managers. The event brought into sharp focus for the duo the constraints not only of stages, but the equal constraints of usability “real-world” spaces, and prompted the elaboration and extension of the project into a multi-location dance-video project throughout the West Coast.
From the dance on video performance of C.L.U.E., which the group calls a “work permanently in progress,” the piece developed into a live performance piece. C.L.U.E. was staged as a live show at P.S.122 with a dual projection screen, interacting with the recorded dance on video and a set-architecture that referenced some of the locations, and a live musical performance by the band that scored the video. The piece took advantage of the opportunity to layer and play with the relationships of collaborations with themselves and their projected images, between the score and the projected score, and the interplay of dialogue between all participants. The piece inhabits a psychedelic realm, with the use of colors bridging different worlds, with no beginning nor end, the color signifying not just a tempo or location but as a “lens” through which to see with amplified visual perception. The piece then developed to the New Museum to inhabit yet again another architecture, and to use the building as another source for new material, renewing the cycle of the piece and sparking permutations to regenerate itself. The piece originated with a movement language created on the road with the original project, which then becomes informed and transformed by its interaction and reaction to the environments in which it is shot. The challenge of the live piece is to recapture the feeling of discovery and response.
Their new piece “Sonya and Layla Go Camping” will be shown at the Kitchen May 27, 2009; the new piece investigating the conceptual frame of “location” and incorporating video.
Speaking directly to the topic of the role of the performer in their work, Robbinschilds see their roles as having shifted, as opening themselves up to cross-pollination through reactive states, in collaboration with other performers, to expand the roles and blur lines of who is creator, who is choreographer, who co-performs and takes ownership of the material on stage.
They see the use of media as remaining organic to their pieces. The role of cultural creators is a dialogue emerging about the role of the artist generally in society, and specifically in their current work engages politically in recapturing and redefining the idea of American mythology and the tropes of the American road-trip, juxtaposing the disposable architecture with the vast landscapes of the American vista. From feeling disenfranchised and alienated within their own country, the group works to reclaim the definition of their own political bodies and the possibilities of those bodies to act freely. Reclaiming the idea of “our country”, the work contains a mixture of sadness and celebration, going off-grid to further the investigation while remaining grounded in the network of New York and Los Angeles-based artistic production.
Phillips runs a Philadelphia-based theatre company called the Lucidity Suitcase International, which founded he nine years ago as a structure to make original works through improvisation and development. Most recently Phillips completed the Americas trilogy, a continental-themed series of works which took inspiration from cultures that ranged from Canada to South America. The trilogy began with “¡El Conquistador!” and the locus of Latin America, Phillips’ wife hailing from Bogota, Colombia, and whose family comprised telenovela actors. Phillips studied the role of the doorman in Bogota, and the crucial social role that doormen performed; from this he developed a two-day improvisation series with the actors in their own apartments calling down to a character that Phillips created called the Doorman which he acted out in the real space of the apartment building. He then shot the improvisation on location in the building in which the actors were all housed.
This process generated hours of footage, which then took two years of editing to arrive at a final performance. The background is an on-location shot of the lobby, with the back window providing a view on the social pageant of the country. The Doorman being addicted to a soap opera, he eventually becomes enmeshed in his own story and becomes the “star” of his own addiction, and the work becomes a self-reflexive piece in which documentation and invention become complexly intermeshed, as the documentary and fictional aspects of the performance become inextricably intertwined.
The next piece of the trilogy, “Flamingo/Winnebago,” took its cue from North America and the idea of a vintage gas-station, began in process with a road-trip across the west on a search for ideas. Phillips went to Las Vegas, again in a search for documentary and inspirational elements to create the story; when in Vegas, he discovered personal family history about his grandfather as a mobster in Vegas casino; From these elements emerged a piece about a character (played by Phillips himself) on a road trip,using iconic ideas of road movie— as well as a mapping of the American landscape of divorce and diversity.
In the piece, Phillips places an emphasis on the theatrical use of images to help define location, or serve as a character, and describes the final product as a struggle to find a balance between the theatrical and technical.
The third part of trilogy: “The MeLTING BRiDgE” took up the idea of Native America, originated from a professional performing residency in Mexico City, and incorporated Phillips’ chance encounter in the subway with a woman in a newstand whose physical location encapsulated a striking contrast of contemporary Mexico: surrounded by paper media, her sales stand took in as its field of view the historical ruins of the old city. From this inspiration, Phillips developed a story about an archaeologist/anthropologist who studies native cultures & disappears, and his son who sells paper products from Eucalyptus trees, launching on a search for his lost father. In the play, the news agent is theatrically transplanted, and enacts an Aztec cleansing ritual during the performance; Phillips points out that in Mexico City currently, the spanish city is collapsing and Aztec temple is rising out of the ground, which he took as a symbol of the reemergence of native cultures, and also as a warning for contemporary cultures.
His practice of merging the documentary, personal and performative continued and deepened throughout the creation. He personally searched for and captured footage of locations and events, then directly incorporated this footage directly into the piece, which became a model for his artistic practice.
He describes the process by which he may encounter a scene or circumstance and incorporate it into the show— in traveling to Colombia to a border town of Brazil, he captured footage of a local port. Using both the images of the research in the piece, he also incorporated the location and his actions into the narrative of the piece, as the play concludes with a journey upriver into a deeper wilderness.
Trajel Harrel introduced the background for his work Showpony which was made in 2006, premiered in 2007. He described his frustration with the arduous economy of producing a work which had a long development time but in the end which he performed only two nights in which his part on stage was seven minutes long. The time was a difficult era in New York, in which one could really see the city transitioning into a city for corporate america, especially visible in the impact of neighborhoods. What had traditionally been places for artists, in which the individual could move in and eke out a living became more scarce. Many of his circle of friends at the time lived through couch surfing, didn’t have homes, and found themselves asking “why continue?” As individual artists announced their last piece, Harrel describes a collective capitulation with the recognition that “it’s not happening; we’re all going to make our last piece.”
For his “final piece” Showpony, he decided that he wanted to be present on stage every second throughout the duration of the performance. His colleague DD Dorvillier commented that such a move by him would be positive; “that’s great, you’re going to change the economy of your work.” Showpony took as its topic a manifestation of dialogue, or the relationship of how meaning and value gets established in dance, and the relationship between the desire between what and audience wants to see in a show, and what the performer wants to do in the show. The piece begins with Harrel resting gently on the lap of each audience member as they are arranged in a circle surrounding the performance area, so that “everyone has to support my body, to make that physical connection with me, but of course it’s also a lap dance.” In this way he established an immediate, phyical presence and connection with everyone who came to show. Creating it originally in Berlin, he expected the opening to be controversial, because of an underlying sexual content— but discovered instead that it became the “warm part of the piece, a part that people really love.”
Since 2001 Harrel has been involved in research with the concurrence of development of the postmodern and Judson movement and the simultaneous vogueing movement. These two very different aesthetic histories had been both in New York at same time, responding to the same cultural climate but in different ways, especially responding to “authenticity” in disparate ways. Informing this interest in the dialogue between the two was an engagement with a the site of exploration on the fashion runway. Runway history also has a development of movement, of fashion spectacle, and there exists a history of walking not well documented, which Harrel has spent time researching.
Because he was educated in production of cultural visibility in America, he came to the conclusion that “I don’t know that dance and performance is surviving in America today. Contemporary dance— of course there is a level in which it’s surviving, the ecology in which we live, on the edge of something.” But he realizes that this marginal existence may not be sustaining itself.
In thinking about Show Pony, he was brought to focus on how little there is and how competitive it is, a constant struggle for the American artist for competition and support without which the artist cannot survive. As Harrel puts it, “I’m always competing with my friends for money, but I couldn’t survive without their support. It’s not a simple thing. The audience is not aware of how they participate in that dynamic.” This dynamic between audience and performer and community becomes blurred, and this blurring affects how issues of visibility, recognition and attention. As Harrel sees it, it all has to do with issues of support. In the final section of Showpony, which is a slideshow of his dance contemporaries, he began to engage with this dynamic in culture today, with the paradox of the more an artist make his private life public, the more potential there is for larger economy. He compares this to the visual art use visibility of their lifestyles, as he describe it, having gone into bed with fashion, to accelerate their careers and make value of work go up. But he draws a distinction between the visual arts and performance: how invisible we are contemporary experimental performance, no one in the larger society knows, maybe no one cares.
He questions if performance artists are hanging on to an alternative creed inherited from the counterculture movement of the sixties, with an adopted rejection of the mainstream, the popular, and the moneyed. By does such an ethos of being alternative and having progressive or alternative politic, necessarily mean being invisible? Through this final slideshow, a series of images modeled on Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Harrel engages with that invisibility, not to show an authentic version of dance community or artists, but to question what happens in the potential romanticization and glamourization of dance. How does it change relationships of dynamics. Who does the audience look at, and not look at?
Harrel concludes that if we are going to survive (talking about New York specifically), artists will have to consider new ways of thinking about how to participate in this cultural production. He points to the growing creative class, and the idea that the main thing cultural producers from the performance field are going to be producing are experiences. As performing artists, he claims a place at the forefront of this production, or as he states it: “The other fields are going to take it from us, unless we figure out what our stake in it is.”
If we are going to have a voice in the 21st century, most people want to know more, not less. The reality of the work being a pure object is no longer true. To do more than survive into the next century, he encourages a belief in artist’s art, and that such work has an important place in culture, and that the performance field steps into a larger spotlight.
Each artist of this series embodies a distinct aspect within diverse strategies of essential Liveness: the way in which their praxis connects to the action of contemporary performance and its function within the larger cultural sphere. For Wang, the “live processing” and in-performance act of creation conjures and renews immediacy and resists replication and archiving. For RobbinsChilds, the social strategy of ongoing “collaboration” in an extended sense renovates performance: collaboration understood as the exchange between artist-participant-peers as well as collaboration with sites in an ever-ready, ever-changing responsiveness to the social moment. For Phillips, the central actions of witness, documentary, and reproduction posits the artist in a living journey through the biographical. For Dorvillier, interrelating between audience and performer serves as a parallel relationship to the larger negotiation of artist to “scene,” which generates liveness in the process of performance. For Harrel, the generator and owner of the experience is an emerging crucial position. Each of these artists individually, and collectively as performers who influence and incorporate strategies from contemporary peers, point to an emergent engagement with the central aspects of what constitutes liveness in the new century.