What are the questions that you would like to be asked about your work?
I generally consider that I am able to face any kind of question or problematic regarding the work that I’m trying to put together. But it might not be true. So before anything, I am concerned with the consistency of the notion of “work” so I would start from here. What does it mean to work and to produce work?
What does it mean to produce work?
This question arose, it’s true, along with the necessity of being active. Together with the pressure of the environment, one needs to justify his existence within the society. The role that you chose, or not, to perform in the environment that you live is the work, and reflecting on it could happen to be called also “work”. The work is not (from my point of view) autonomous, I don’t perceive it as something static or fixed, that belongs to me or is produced solely by me, but on the contrary as a permanent negotiation between the social- cultural context, the cultural agenda of your time, and one awareness to that. The reaction to what is going on around you (depending of how much access you have to information) is also precarious and fragmented so what is one position as author in the frame of a contemporary dance piece? Can one reflect on identity through dance performance?
Can you reflect on identity through dance performance?
Good question. I don’t know what kind of identity you refer to. My identity as a choreographer owes a big procentage to the people that are around me, the performances I have seen, the texts that I’m reading, the research that I’m doing on the internet (ubu.com for example), the personal crises and the frustration with all that was mentioned above. That’s why for my latest project I refused to produce any material or take any choreographic decisions during the time allocated to construct my piece. The starting point was the invitation of CNDB (National Centre of Danse Bucharest) who decided to give me financial support in order to make a piece. So they initiated something for me to do. So I passed on to others. I invited friends to carry on the process in my presence. I worked on others projects and ideas of other people in the frame of my rehearsals. It was a question of strategy and arranging the meetings.
How did you arranged the whole thing, what was your strategy?
Right on the spot. The meetings would be set up before, with each guest choosing how would they like to be present in the frame I was proposing. Some of the guest proposed different ideas for a dance piece, with others I had conversations relating to each ones approach towards the representational space. I witnessed or participated in projects that I invited in my rehearsal time, all of which have been recorded on video or just audio, to have all the time some sort of third party, that was also, somewhere in the future, me.
Key question. As time passed I gathered a bulk of mini dv tapes that consisted, as I called it, my material for the work. But experiences were so far only mine, reproducing or simply showing the tapes to an audience wouldn’t have been quite accurate. It would not have been enough in order to give an idea of the process to an audience, in a performative understanding. At some point, a few weeks before the premiere was due to take place, I was invited on the National Radio (the cultural division frequency) to talk about my work and other things related, on the air, one hour, every day from monday to friday. So I thought to push and extend a bit the frame of my project and send someone else the first day. The decisive thing, in terms of strategy, was to be unrecognised by anyone in the institution and to deal somehow with the identification card at the entrance, because the national radio is a military protected institution and you have to present an ID to the guards. The tasks we had to overcome have proven to be less difficult to surpass and for one hour Manuel Pelmus was Ion Dumitrescu in a context that relies only on audio presence. The moderator asked questions and Manuel calmly responded and gave his personal view on different issues concerning aspects of my work and life. The next day…
OK. You can't escape the ways you are aware that people might read your performance(any kind of performance) through today’s representational system and at the extent of how much one is informed of it or is avoiding it. The current debates are opening the possibility of interpretation towards other areas of art and again that you can choose or not to ignore. Where do you stand, and if there is such a position to be taken on a long term scale? Could it be that one shifts constantly, according to the different postures that have been offered to him in the social-cultural environment?
What a various set of questions, it seems a little bit hard to link them. I was getting used to predictable questions. The fact that choreography is still a precarious presence in the art field, and has a weak discourse between the other art practices, grants it actually a privileged position; dance seems not fixed as a paradigm, it’s a domain that is still looking for a meaningful place in the art history, choreography still negotiates its limits and it has become open towards the problematics of society also through constant reassessment of its esthetics and conceptual basis.
The performance that was shown at CNDB in December somehow follow this idea and remains an open frame that tries to conceive the representation in a collaborative way with the audience, to shift the roles and logic of a common dance performance, to change the postures of performer/viewer. To have two perspectives, one real (palpable) where one (the viewer) takes part and produces “material” in close intimacy with the performer and one virtual where one can witness on a screen the others having the same experience(witch is never the same actually). The body of the performer becomes an white sheet of paper where the spectators inscribe themselves (they are invited at the entrance to write with a black marker on Ion Dumitrescu’s body) so the dancer would elude the condition of the medium and protagonist and remain just a sort of a platform on witch the spectators act and thus generate meaning.
It is not clear to me how this performance looks like but I hope to see it. I thank you Ion.