Alice Chauchat, Frédéric de Carlo, Frédéric Gies, Isabelle Schad, Odile Seitz
(AC) So, can you present yourselves? Who is praticable?
(IS) At the moment, praticable is 5 people, Alice Chauchat, Frédéric Gies, Frédéric de Carlo, Odile Seitz and Isabelle Schad. We’re working on body practices as a source for choreographic work.
(AC) Does this mean that it’s always the 5 of you working together?
(FG) It’s always at least the 5 of us when we share the practice. Then, when we make pieces, it’s not the case, it can be one person signing the piece, or 2 together, or more, but it’s not about making collective pieces. We’re not a collective on the level of authorship. The collective part is on the sharing of body practices and the sharing of distribution.
(IS) How does it work, to share distribution?
(OS) When a piece is to be performed somewhere, we always propose a 1st part with another work from another of us. (IS) And the important thing is that we’re deciding ourselves which piece is shown; this is not done through the production house or festival inviting us. (OS) It’s a short piece, (IS) up to 20 minutes. (FG) So we also curate ourselves and share this task together.
(IS) How does this function? How are you doing it?
(AC) Well, it depends. The 1st question is who is available at that date, that makes the 1st pre-selection, and then we try to make sure that all pieces that are available as 1st parts get shown. So it’s also a matter of distributing the chances evenly for each work to be presented. (IS) it’s a way to share visibility. Sometimes it’s restricted as well by other factors such as money, which makes it possible only for a solo to be shown and not a duet or a group thing.
(FG) Why did you decide to create this system of 1st parts?
(OS) We decided on it in order to give a chance to the others to show their own work, and in order to be our own curators, not to be dependent on others. (AC) There’s also the idea of making a group, organizing ourselves as a group that is not the author of piece but which is organized around the sharing of something that is used to make pieces, and this thing is practice, various practices that are done together. This is a way of putting in common knowledge, experiences, and ideas from all of us that can then be used by everybody on their own. And then we thought it also makes sense to share the visibility of the outcome of this. Knowing that we don’t want to become a collective author, i.e. a traditional collective, we decided on sharing something crucial to the artistic work, therefore it makes sense to present the context in which this work is being done. And we think that, by showing 2 works that can have quite different artistic and aesthetic proposals, still being grounded in a similar approach to choreography, we could make visible what is this thing in common which is not a style, for example.
(IS) Is your idea of curatorship a political response towards certain structures you are surrounded by?
(IS) For me, yes, it’s a response to how festivals are constructed or put together, with certain people being visible all over the place, versus us saying “one part of this evening is going to be proposed by us”, this puts visibility into question, which is for me very political and I’m happy about that aspect. (FG) For me, and this is also political, it’s a way of not showing a piece as just a piece or a product that you get to see but of giving the context with it. It invites the audience to look at it in another way, it can bring up questions that you might not have immediately just looking at one piece.
(IS) What kind of reactions did you have from curators to this proposal?
(AC) Surprisingly it’s been very easy. We thought it might be complicated and in fact it’s very rare that people clearly express problems with that. (FG) and mostly when there’s a problem, when we explain it’s accepted (AC) Surprisingly it’s been easy doesn’t mean necessarily that everyone loves it, but it has never made somebody refuse a show, that’s already a nice thing to realize that programmers tend to trust the proposal, and then another nice thing is that it’s also mostly very supported in the communication, where the venues themselves ask for a lot of information so that they can advertise it. So they actually take it as a chance to show more work, because they can understand this idea of double program and they can stand for it. (IS) It’s important that this should be well contextualized and made clear for the audience to understand it also. When this is not done, we sometimes just do it ourselves, verbally. (AC) In fact we should do it all the time. Because even when it’s super clearly announced, there’s always 1 or 2 people completely confused. (FG) Yes this should become a rule, something that must be done before each show.
(AC) I also wanted to ask you, you’ve been working for 3 ½ years. How has the project changed or developed over time, in the structure or in the work? Did something change?
(OS) For me it really gave me a structure to have the possibility to make my own work. It was a very secure structure and I felt it really as a support. (AC) For me also, there’s clearly this sense of support and continuity even when we’ve done nothing together for several months, still, knowing that there is that umbrella that can intensify is a very securing thing. And also, to do a lot of BMC especially was an opportunity to come close to and experience another relation to the body that then could really make me think of other proposals. And the practice I’m working on now since last year could never happen outside of this project; the ongoing practice together with the process of thinking in artistic and choreographic terms about this practice, also in a continuous frame, makes it possible to just start working on something without knowing if it would ever become a show. And if it does, it can still be a practice outside of the show. (IS) For me, the practice and also strongly the BMC® thing have been a really supportive continuous line in my work and in my life as well, as something that stays stable, that is very present and that I also experience in other contexts now than praticable, which just stays with me - when I’m working on a theater piece for example. I’m having this approach (of working with BMC® as a body practice) because it touches an essential aspect of reconsidering working within theater. It also saved me from getting completely confused because lately I received so many different kinds of proposals for small projects and I was very happy to have a continuous thread and line, to not be split into many different things and products, even though each project became a thing in itself. (FG) For me I think it changed totally my way of working. As there is this principle of starting from a practice and then coming to representation, I have now a cooler way of working because I just practice something and then I look at what it produces. I’m way less into the goal but more stepping back, looking at what is produced and then doing something with it, having less preconceived ideas about what I’m going to do, so that it opens up possibilities for me. It also makes me freer in my own work. (FDC) I think it makes me more confident, during the process but even in the act of performing, I can feel stronger in the body and connected to all the people in the project, I can feel that it’s easier. I’m freer to go on stage.
(AC) Do you think this is because of the structure of practicable or because of the practice-based work?
(FDC) I think it’s both, … and the work together.
(AC) It’s interesting when you say that you carry with you things from praticable, also in projects that are outside of praticable. As well because I know that in the practice sessions, there are also a lot of other people than the 5 of you coming and joining, sometimes often and sometimes only once. It sounds a bit like praticable would be a kind of sponge where you live but also in and out of which you move, and through which other people pass too.
(IS) Yes, this is because we’re not a 5 persons community, our lives are all independently existing and carried on daily; I just can’t separate saying “this I’m only doing with the 5 of us and this I’m doing then, I can’t separate as it becomes a way of trusting something, and you need to find a personal line as well for yourself. (FG) The 1st pieces that were made in the frame of praticable were involving mostly the people from praticable; they were solos or duets. And now several projects within praticable concern many more people than the 5 of us and I think it will also be more and more the case now. (AC) And it’s also that some people share the practice without performing in pieces, which gives a nice fluidity between practicing and producing pieces, where they are super connected but also remain independent.
(AC) This makes me wonder: why is then praticable just the 5 of you? Since other people also practice with you a lot, why would they not be praticable? What is this dependent on? Could you imagine being more, and what would be the conditions for it?
(FG) It would be great if people would ask to join practicable! Saying, “I have this piece based on that practice and I would love to join praticable”. Someone with a project based on a practice who would propose to do it in this frame. (IS) For me, I agree, it could be great that people use this approach on practice to do praticable work, but even then it’s for me not so much about joining or being member, but rather the idea of a platform. (AC) But you need to be a member in order to be programmed as a 1st part. (IS) No, I’m wondering if someone, either by inviting someone you already share practice with in the frame of praticable and who expressed the wish to do it, or someone coming with a proposal, if we couldn’t invite people or if people could invite themselves by proposing also to just show a small thing in the 1st part. My feeling is that it’s not about membership because what I like about a platform is that it’s not about possessing something. (AC) I think this is a nice idea but not a very practical one. For me there is something there which is not totally clear yet but that has to do with engagement; on the one hand there’s this sponginess about the project that makes it necessary to think that it has to be extendable and possible for more people to come in, so that the elasticity that we have in our involvement depending on periods in our lives or schedule, being sometimes a lot there and sometimes not, is part of how the project functions. On the other hand engagement seems also necessary. “Membership” makes it sound like an exclusive club, and I don’t like this notion of exclusivity, in the same time without an engagement it might become too vague. It has to be cared for. (IS) I think in the case of a person who’s already accepting an invitation or proposing, the engagement has to be in the sharing of the practice concerned, in proposing a frame for its sharing. It should be connected and not just a platform for pieces suddenly. (AC) So I would say that praticable works have to be based on a practice, and someone can join praticable on the condition of sharing practice too, let it be one’s own or other people’s. (FG) Yes, and also sharing the distribution. These basic things have to be there.
(AC) Do you have plans for the future?
(IS) I have lots of small projects coming, but in the frame of praticable I want to continue the work on body practice in relation to the prolongation of the body, may it be clothes, objects, anything in this idea of prosthesis or prolongation, on this relationship between you and yourself and then what is not yourself anymore, what is outside. So I would be curious to make different studies in different constellations, continuing this research. (AC) I want to continue working on imagination as part of the physical body, with this practice that it do and will continue doing also apart from next year’s creation. (FG) In relation to my project “album”, I’m interested in sharing a practice which is… we started working a lot with BMC and at least for my part it was very much oriented on the “body” aspect. And with “album” I’m going more from the mind towards the body. And now I have to find ways of sharing the practice I started and I don’t know yet how to do it, I have to figure it out. (AC) This is an important thing about that project: it obliges us to also think what we do, separately from a particular artistic product. Because we have to share it with the others, we have to consider the activity in itself. (FG) It also makes us think about what the frames for sharing are, and how we share, possibly forcing us to find ways that we maybe never tried before, or inventing new ones. And this then influences the practice in itself. (OS) For me it’s difficult to imagine the possibility; as we worked in April (2008 on “The beloved” ) it was so short that we had to work only to make the piece. For me, the time we had 1 year ago in Potsdam was a great time, the practices we did with you in the summer before were very nice too, it was a great time for exchange, but I have a feeling that it’s not so easy, during creation periods, to find the possibility to share and invite the others. That’s what you wrote in your mail, Fred, a few weeks ago: there’s a time when it’s necessary to find a concentration either with the group or alone… (FDC) yes, it would be great maybe to find another residency out of creation, time just for exchange. (OS) Yes, but I think it would be a necessity to find one or two times each year (FG)… that would be only about this (OS) Yes.
(AC) But, you have space where you can work. Do you need to have a residency somewhere?
(FG) Well it’s great to have a residency because then it’s also money! (IS) I think in general we can organize it also here in Berlin in our spaces; the situation is a little different for you Fred (de Carlo) because we’re all in Berlin, but it’s then a lot about availability I think. I wrote 3 mails during the process of “Ohne Worte” to invite you into the practice and no one came. This is fine with me, it was super for me that I then wrote to a big mailing list and 10 people showed up every day, and for me this is also part of praticable. There’s the question of availability even when we’re in Berlin, because of family or something else, sometimes maybe a desire also, some days one doesn’t feel like doing something on top of all the other things. I think we should be honest enough to say that this comes how it falls. We’re just engaged in setting it up anyways (the open practice sessions), and maybe this can happen through this big network which each of us has: to invite people and then who comes, comes, I find this a nice possibility. Also related to when you can have a space, because for now I can only have punctual spaces in Berlin, which are related to creation or renting. It’s great that we can just propose it where and when we can. (FG) It’s true that it would be great to have a kind of annual gathering, even if it’s one week, to update on what we’ve done throughout the year and to try things for the future, even one week is already enormous, (AC) … a praticable intensive, yes, let’s do it in my atelier and check out the calendars, when we find a week. (FG) Ah, I want to say another thing regarding a previous question about what praticable changed. What is great is that I can work more at my rhythm, i.e. it gives me more time to conceive a piece. As there’s this sharing of practice and time spent on it, it actually adds more time to the process of creation. And as I can share the practice in the frame of other projects, the time elongates, more time to spend on the ground of the piece than on what the piece will be.
(AC) Another question was: did praticable change, as a structure, since you founded it?
(IS) No, not as a structure. We’re talking now about possibilities for the future, but until now it hasn’t changed. (AC) Well, I remember that at 1st we had said that everyone would share the practice for all the creations; it started from this very radical thing (FG) … and now we made it fit to reality (FDC) but it can change, it’s possible, I would love to. (IS) For me it can’t be possible to be there all the time. (AC) Well, we don’t have the money for it and it would mean to have no desire for projects outside of praticable. For me, not only I cannot be there all the time but also I don’t want because there are other things I want to do. But it would also be great if it happens sometimes, to share someone else’s practice throughout their whole creation without being in the piece.