Tomorrow I head to Bassano del Grappa in the north of Italy for some research for a project with choreographer Eva Recacha. We had a first go at the project last summer at Choreodrome at The Place in London, but this time in Italy is more sustained. We don’t really know what it is is yet, but Eva has a very precise eye in the studio, so we are trusting that something will emerge.
One thing that marks this project as slightly different is that I (the dancer) initiated the collaboration with Eva (the choreographer). We are curious about how this less than conventional offer might influence how we work in the studio, and what the project might end up like.
Here’s a brief flurry of movement from the work we did at The Place last summer.
Camera: Eulanda Shead
Choreography: Eva Recacha
Dancing: Simon Ellis
Here’s David Pledger (again) writing on theconversation.com:
Whether economic, philosophical, social or cultural, the context in which an artwork is created and the complicity of the artist within that context is intrinsic to its meaning.
and then …
… does an artwork ever have meaning in and of itself? Is it possible to separate the meaning of the Mona Lisa from its historical, cultural and exhibition contexts?
This reminds me of a book by Thomas McEvilley called Art and Discontent that Lil Boyce introduced to me some years ago. In it, McEvilley has an essay called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird in which he makes a lucid case for how the content of an art work includes things like:
- content arising from verbal supplements supplied by the artist
- content arising from the temporal duration of the artwork
- context arising from the context of the work
- content arising from the work’s relationship to art history
- content that accrues to a work as it progressively reveals its destiny through persisting in time
I’ve since been checking out a book called A Good Night Out by John McGrath – I suspect it might be a standard text for drama students from way back – and in it he writes:
It is simply that to be good as theatre, plays now must ruthlessly question their ideological bases, the set of assumptions about life on which they are built, and should have a questioning, critical relationship with their audience, based on trust, cultural identification and political solidarity. These attitudes behind the work are always what plays are really ‘about’.
Part of my interest in making performance is attempting to understand the assumptions – and contexts – within which I am making that performance.
I thought that art schools should just be places where you thought about creative behavior, whereas they thought an art school was a place where you made painters
– Brian Eno
How might we build educational environments within current economic and political conditions in which we give space to students to focus on creative behaviour?
I’m passing by the summer theatre at Hammersmith. I pause because I think I recognise one of the cast members. I’m immediately approached by an invigilator wearing a high-viz jacket:
“Would you like a programme?”
“But it tells you what is happening in front of you”
“But it’s free”
“How many times do I have to say, ‘No thanks’?”
I regret the sarcasm of my last statement but I’m still wondering just how being told (by a programme) what is happening in front of me is some kind of lure.
I recently read John McGrath’s A Good Night Out and this is what he says:
For not only must the text, mise-en-scène, lighting, performances, casting, music, effects, placing on the stage all be taken into account in order to arrive at a description of the stage event, but also the nature of the audience, the nature, social, geographical and physical, of the venue, the price of tickets, the availability of tickets, the nature and placing of the pre-publicity, where the nearest pub is, and the relationships between all these considerations themselves and of each with what is happening on stage. For when we discuss theatre, we are discussing a social event, and a very complex social event, with a long history and many elements, each element also having a long and independent history.
– McGrath, John. 1981. A Good Night Out. London: Methuen, p.5
In other words, the work of that person in the high-viz jacket is as important as anything that was happening on that open-air stage.
Charlie Ashwell is a London-based dance-artist who is currently developing a project in which she “traces and invokes the figure of the witch” and re-casts her as a freelance dance artist. Charlie thinks, writes and performs deeply, and this week – at 4pm, Friday 4 July in Michaelis Studio – she is presenting a part of her project at Roehampton Dance with another dance-artist/witch Stephanie McMann.
Charlie’s blog is here: http://charlieashwell.wordpress.com.
I like the way she moves, thinks and talks, and I like how much she likes lists.