Workshop is one of those terms used in such a wide sense that it has lost any meaning. International Festival seems to make it even more complicated to pin point its meaning?
International Festival: Well, generally speaking one could say that workshop can be two things: a consolidation of knowledge already established, or an opportunity to produce knowledge, thus introducing the possibility for something to change. The question is just how this possibility can be articulated, how some form of engagement can be established? Our practice is somehow formulated around an idea of forcing ourselves to do things we have no idea about, or things we are unable to perform, however, of course, being able only to use skills that we already have. An architect and a choreographer/performer working together already introduce this inability. How can a choreographer work with an architect? And we emphasize “together” and not next to as it normally is. You know, the architect builds some more or less artistic structure in chipboard and the choreographer puts some dances in front of it. No, we are interested in how choreography can challenge architecture and at the same time be influenced by architecture. Our practice in fact implies to insist on processes of becoming foreign to our-selves. One cannot sit down and produce, in the sense of inventing, knowledge. The production of knowledge is dependent on processes of making possible. For the workshop here in Vienna we decided to make a film, and I mean “film” in the sense of cinema – full-length feature film. Of course it is impossible for an architect, a choreographer and a dozen participants to create such a film, especially if the aspiration is Hollywood, and for it to be finished after four weeks and premiere at the end of the festival.
So what do we do…? Exactly, we better use our imagination. No actually, if we use our imagination we will not succeed in any sense. Imagination is already inscribed in representation and perception. We are interested in intensities of other characteristics, something that we call affects. Perception is not our interest but percepts. Or in other words, stuff that is yet to gain a name. Now, we come across a slight difficulty in respect of novelty. If we think about gaining a name, we easily end up in discourses referring to romantic or modernist notions of artist, inventor or philosopher. Our practice rather has to do with deterritorializing existing episteme. We wish to be Jewish piano players to quote Horowitz. So, to answer your questions: Yes we are interested in complexifying the notion of workshop in respect of specific modes of knowledge production, and at the same time, if workshop means reproduction of knowledge, International Festival don’t do workshop.
This is the second Choreographers Venture that you are involved in. What is your plans for this year, or is planning something too conventional for you?
IF: As we know, the path to hell is paved by good intentions, and since we have no errands in heaven we can’t operate through belief. As our interest in Artaud ran dry last Friday – Oops, there went sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, our only resort is to have both feet on the ground and the head above the clouds. We love planning, and everybody knows that conventional is the new perverse. What we have planned is a workshop that takes the shape of the realization of a dance film, in which a workshop where a dance film is being realized is taking place.
So you are making a film?
IF: No we are giving a workshop?
But the film is a workshop?
IF: No, the film is a film?
And what is the workshop?
IF: The workshop is the realization of a film?
And what is in the film?
IF: A workshop?
Oh, I see?
IF: There you go, now we are talking. When something’s name, what it is called and its being or existence, coincides then knowledge has stalled and become immobile. Of course the question will be what does this have to do with dance? And I can only respond by asking where do you want me to start? The activity of this group of people is everything dance and choreography, except in respect of what it, i.e. dance, is, what it is called and what its name is. This acknowledgement implies the possibility of potentiality, or implies that change can only take place at the moment when we are benevolent to an asymmetry between something’s or our own name and what it, one, is called.
This is rather unclear and more or less incomprehensible, can you clarify?
IF: We are interested in the format contemporary dance and its potential audience. Since the mode of production that we utilize for the realization of this film (which is fully fictional) is one of dance. Can we understand this film, whether it contains dance or not, as a dance “performance”/production, or is dance forever trapped in particular modes of presence and is its site always the institution The Stage? It is remarkable to recall that 50 years ago Bob Dylan was playing his guitar unplugged in bars in Manhattan, and in 2005 Rolling Stones performed in front of 1.2 million people in Rio, and nobody asks questions about authenticity. At the same time – we don’t mix up Stones concert with something else, i.e. it is still understood as autonomous. So, if we decided that making a film through the mode of thought/production of dance is dance; authentic and autonomous in the same respect as any other dance, we have at least produced the possibility for an expansion of what dance can be. If Rolling Stones can do it, why shouldn’t dance aspire to the same thing? You of course object and say, but Riverdance does that? Exactly, but why should we, as individuals and groups with ethical or political aspirations due dance, abandon the “big” stage for Riverdance to explore? Isn’t that the same contrived BS as sticking to vinyl when the CD was introduced, or to resign to the violence of a system? In other words, to invalidate ones capacity to act politically.
Can you be more concrete?
IF: How long does it take to recognize that you are looking at cultural television? Less than a second? And why is every portrait of an artist exactly the same? Long, slow shots, measured inwardly talking and thoughtful choreographers sitting deep in an armchair, or firmly concentrated in the studio. That’s not my practice. I don’t want to give that impression to the world. On the other hand why do we offer to Hollywood to make films about dance without any further consideration than bashing the films before they arrive on the big screen? The dance that occurs in dance-films has nothing to do with contemporary dance, and yet we allow our children to look at it? And finally, has anybody ever seen a decent dance film, like made by a choreographer for BBC? Certainly not! Because the choreographer is hired to represent himself and his practice, which cannot not be conceptually incompatible with cinema. SWEAT the movie, is an insitu attempt to claim back dance from these three actors: cultural television, Hollywood and “video-dance”, not as a critique but rather as a proposal for something else A flip side to this, is to ask ourselves what do we mean with commercial? Our film, which is a dance, aims for the same audience as Hollywood, but does that mean that we automatically become commercial? If commercial is disconnected from monetary value and expanded to any kind of value production, we believe that some of the work presented during Impulstanz or in any other festival in Europe today, is far more commercial than a large amount of Hollywood productions, it’s just that dance seems to pretend as if it’s nothing? If dance remains on stage as we know it, we believe it is doomed, and it is only by stopping to use our imagination that dance can look forward to a lively future. If you run a car company today, why aim for the family car version? No, go for something specific, create a niche and avoid competition. Expand the field of the possible. In dance basically everybody turns to the stage – 12 x 12 m – that is the place where dance proposes that radical is happening. But hallo, to gain a license to perform on that stage one always has to pass “the market”. In other words all work produced for the stage, aiming for the festival circuit is by definition commercial. This is lovely, since at least then we know the rules and we stop being precious about our artistic integrity and creative freedom.
Big words, but how will this happen?
IF: With some good luck and a lot of hard work, or rather; some good work and a lot of hard luck. Of course we will not make it to Hollywood but that doesn’t matter. We’d rather end up in hell than remaining in place. Yet, it is only through belief in the bad will that something might change. The good will is always respect, which means unproductive. We do everything ourselves. The actors in the film are mostly dancers and some other silly people, and as much as they are actors they function as film team. So you act one day and the next you are operating some boom. This has economical reasons, but it is more because we are interested in what happens if the positions we normally occupy are undermined. It also implies that the process of filming in itself is a kind of choreography, and more over this is thus a collective film. It is imperative to not mimic film production, then we are going down badly, but rather to look into how this group can make film differently. Not a different film (that’s again the modernist artist peaking into the studio), but to make film differently, which of course is very Godard. In fact we are not trying to make a film in the sense of an autonomous product, but rather we are making a film that looks like a film. We have no idea about film making so we can only do something that looks like a film, i.e. a process that fucks pride and engages in difference. The starting point is a rather conventional screenplay that we wrote together, and as long as we follow it anything can happen. You know, doing something you have no idea about implies that there isn’t a lot to lose. Even better, if you are doing something you have no idea about -with very strict conditions - you can produce a revolution.