Xavier Le Roy
“Self Interview” is a performance set up to reflect on some critics and questions produced during and after the project “E.XT.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.#1”. It was conceived as a kind of introduction to other projects presented in the frame work of the evenings titled “E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S#2.7” in Berlin at the Podewil on the 7th, 9th & 10th of December 2000. This performance is also performed within other theatrical contexts and conference situations.
The set for the performance is made out of a square table, a chair and a ghetto-blaster put on the table. The performer seats at the table with the text (S_I) and a pile of fliers with some statements on games (see end of the text). The audience is invited to take place around the table and the performer start by seating at the table and plays the tape which is inside the tape player and asks the questions (the Y part) to the ghetto blaster which answers (the part X of the text). This continues until the change of tape before the answer X23. After this (second tape) the questions and answers are all spiked by the ghetto blaster. Shortly after X 23 the performer stand up and distributes the fliers to the audience and take place within the audience, listening to the text until the end.
The text “Self Interview” was written for the performance with the same title which was presented the first time during the event “E.X.T.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S # 2.7” in Berlin at the Podewil on the 7th of December 2000.
X1: What should we begin with ?
Y1: Maybe by the beginning or the origin of this project called Extensions. Because this why we are here. So what was the first idea which made you initiate this project and how did it begin?
X2: I don’t know exactly how and when the project began. But I remember that at this time my major question was about the relationships between the production and the product within the process of work for dance or theater performances. At the same time I was questioning the interdependency between how a conception of the body is represented and how this representation had been produced. I noticed that that in analogy to an experimental set up, an artistic production cannot be reduce to anything else than its constitutive elements. That’s why it is necessary to include the maximum of these constitutive factors as inherent questions into the work. It might be a way to avoid a separation between the topics, the context and the representations of the whole working situation. THANX TO ISABELLE STENGERS
Y2: This sounds very confused and is almost incomprehensible for me. Could you be a bit more concrete, for example which conception of the body are you talking about?
X3: I don’t know, but I wanted to associate what I had noticed about set ups of artistic productions with the necessity to consider some perceptions of the body within their complexity and their contexts of representation.
Y3: This sounds very confused and is almost incomprehensible for me. Could you be a bit more concrete, for example which conception of the body are you talking about?
X4: I don’t know exactly. But I wanted to set up an arrangement that tries to consider the parameters involved during the process of production to make what I would call Aa critic of their separation“. For example I wanted to simultaneously question the chronological aspects of the work in process and also propose a concept of the body which should neither privilege the body more than the mind or vice versa, nor a body part against another one nor to favor the signs and senses from a human-body opposed to a non-human one and vice versa.
Y4: This sounds very confused and is almost incomprehensible for me. Could you be a bit more concrete, for example which conception of the body are you talking about?
X5: I don’t know. But very often I ask myself, Why should our bodies end at the skin or include at best other beings, organisms or objects encapsulated by the skin?
Y5: I don’t know neither but you might talk about the fact that the body image is extremely fluid and dynamic. That its borders, edges, or contours are “osmotic“ _ and that they have the remarkable power of incorporating and expelling outside and inside in an ongoing interchange?
X6: Yes. As you say, body images are able of accommodating and incorporating an extremely wide range of objects and discourses. Anything that comes into contact with surfaces of the body and remain there long enough will be incorporated into the body image For example clothing, jewelry, other bodies, objects, texts, songs etc... All this may mark the body, its gaits, its postures, its talks, its discourses, its positions, etc., temporarily, or more or less permanently. For example subjects do not walk the same way or have the same posture when they are naked as when they wear clothing.
Y6: So in other words what you say is that the body image is as much a function of the subject’s psychology and socio-historical context as of anatomy. And that there are all kind of non-human influences woven into us.
X7: Exactly so it must exists another alternative to the body image than the anatomical one.
Y7: What are you thinking about for example? . X8: For example: I think about that the body could be perceived as space and time for trade, traffic and exchange. THANK YOU TO ELISABETH GROSZ FOR THIS PROPOSAL
Y8: Actually it is a very simplistic even simple minded idea. What you say is that the body image can shrink or expand; that it can give parts to the outside world and can take other parts into itself. Could you explain what this way of perceiving the body means to you?
X9: I don’t know but: For example following that idea would mean that each individual would be perceived as infinity of extensive parts. In other terms, there would be only composed individuals. An individual would be a notion completely devoid of sense. ...Some body parts leave my body; take another relation, a relation with anything, the mosquito relation when it pikes me, the relation... I constantly integrate parts into my relations, when I eat, for example, when I eat I appropriate extensive parts. What does it mean to appropriate parts? To appropriate parts means: make that they leave the previous relation that they made or performed to take a new relation, this new relation being one of my relations, that is: with the meat I make my own flesh. It’s horrible! So what? We have to live (laugh), it never stops to be like that: shocks, part’s appropriations, transformation of relations. Compositions until the infinite and so on. This system from exterior parts one to the other that never stops to react, at the same time that the infinite ensemble in which they are never stops to change, that’s precisely that system of the inadequate idea , confused perceptions, and passive affectations, and affectation- passion that comes out of it. In other terms, because I am composed by an ensemble of an infinity of infinite ensembles of extensive parts, I never stop to perceive exterior stuff. Perceptions of myself in my relations to exterior stuff. Perceptions of exterior stuff in relation to myself, and it’s all this which make the world of signs. THANK YOU TO DELEUZE, THANK YOU TO SPINOZA.
Y9: Ok let’s cool down a little bit and go back to the beginning.
X10: So what should we begin with?
Y10: Maybe by the beginning or the origin of this project called Extensions. Because this why we are here. So what was the first idea which made you initiate this project and how did it begin?
X11: I don’t know. The origins of the project are multiple and it developed in many different phases. But I think that the very first step was to write a project to ask for subsidies.
Y11: To whom did you address this project and could you make a sort of chronological description of the project?
X12: Well, How I just said the first phase was to write down my questions concerning choreographical art to ask for some subsidies to the Senat für Kultur, Forschung und Wissenschaft in Berlin. I asked for what is called a Abasis förderung“ which is a support given for two years in a row. For this I first founded with Petra Roggel a Gbr which name is: in situ productions. In situ productions received a support from 100.000 DM each year for 1999 and 2000. After this good news I send an invitation letter to about 20 persons to invite them to take part to EXTENSIONS. So this letter was actually the second formulation of the project. In between I asked Stefan Pente to collaborate to think about and to set on the first phase of the project. The project contains two big phases. The first one was called EXTENSIONS#1 and it took place at the end of the summer in Berlin during 4 weeks beginning during the festival Tanz im August, and after that it took place during 2 weeks in Antwerpen in the framework of the exhibition project “Laboratorium“. The second phase of the project is developing since the end of 1999 in diverse projects initiated by different participants. My proposal was that the participants could realize transformations, reproductions, developments, recyclings or critics from the first period of work or about the general ideas of the project. These projects are part of EXTENSIONS and are produced with the subsidies from in situ productions obtained from the Senat of Berlin and with the help of the Podewil and the Tanz Werkstatt. This is a very important parameter of the project because it is trying to actively question the politico - economical - cultural context within which we are working. The projects you will be able to see tonight are some of those projects.
Y12: What were the ideas and questions that you proposed to the participants?
X13: The proposals and general ideas were formulate like I said previously this in the first letter that I sent to the participants to invite them : LIRE : Experiments and investigations about human and non-human bodies as extensions one from another, using “movement-based art“, their performances and representations. Performance of the relationships between the “products“ and modes of production of these experiments and investigations in the field (time and space) of their development. Transformations and recycling of this investigations by „others“ in a second period.
Later in another letter I proposed a kind of definition for E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S. : We could think about “E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.” as an organizing idea or concept to work and simultaneously think on questions about performance, body representations, and being at the same time a performance.
Y13: Could you explain why you made these proposals?
X14: During the process of work for the production of a dance piece there is usually a cut or a gap between the rehearsal period and the public representation. It’s a sort of blind pathway from private to public. It is a delicate question and at the same time it can’t be ignored. You can’t escape it. I don’t accept the dissociation between rehearsals and performance because I think that you cannot separate the representation of the bodies from the set up you used to develop these representations. I would like to handle the question about this pathway during and within every moment of the production. So what I proposed is to work globally and at the same time on the complex stake of the processes during the performance and its production.
Y14: Somehow it seems that what you speak about is what is proposed and showed in any representation using the principle of improvisation?
X15: Some how you are right. But they are some differences. Because I think the kind of improvisation you refer to is used as a method for spontaneous composition, and this, generally, shows esthetics, body images and rules which are specific to this spontaneity. This type of representation reveals fundamental questions but its form depends too much on the acceptance and the trust on the fact that there is a shared and instant interest between private and public actions and perceptions. And I think this is an incomplete answer. Because It favors the individual surprise hoping that it will be a collective one but I think it is an assumption that cannot be imposed to an audience. Actually It is a problem that we also had during E.XT.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.#1. When for example the use of the freedom to act was transformed into a representation of freedom. And this from my point of view was a failure of the project.
Y15: So it seems that you had some precise goals and desires to be fulfilled. Isn’t it a paradox with how you proposed the project? Did you have specific expectations?
X16: I don’t know I wanted to work between the types of work processes that each of us knew and practiced, to be able to find new ones. I expected that we concentrated on the questions and problems I had proposed without taking refuge in the comfortable habits of known experiences that we could infinitely repeat.
Y16: Did you find something?
X17- I don’t know. I think that sometimes we went through moments containing some elements of an answer. But the first period of work (E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.#1) brought up new questions and showed the difficulties to work on my proposals. The major results, I guess, was that it revealed some impossibilities. Maybe because it was a utopia and like every project of utopia, it combined imaginary and rationality. So it is ambivalent and a source of paradoxes. THANX TO MICHEL BERNARD
Y17: What kind of paradox and difficulties appeared and why do you talk about failure?
X18: I don’t know. Maybe it is because I wanted to create a zone for the cohabitation of some ideas which at first site looked contradictory. And I think I was looking for something like a “disciplinary of the unknown“to escape the necessity of knowledge as the only tool to be active and to exist. This was a kind of a poisonous present that I made to the participants. It was a bit like if I gave something that I didn’t want to people who didn’t want it. THANK YOU LACAN. Therefore the first phase of the project had a lot of chances to fail.
Y18: Can you tell why you think that your proposal was a poisonous present?
X19: I don’t know. My proposals were maybe too much totalitarian and therefore took away the power from the participants and at the same time offered them an illusion of a possibility for self or social expression. And maybe this created alienation and group separation. Never the less my proposals were sometimes seen as an obstacle to self expression. And I think that was coming from esthetic fetishism or expectation for expressive clichés. The methods of work that I wanted to escape are very often structured on dichotomies like: Knowledge / intuition, conscience / sensation, emotion / abstraction, body / mind, setting / improvising, Control / expression...and probably others, But we never really escape those ways of practice
Y19: You were maybe not clear enough in your proposals and your expectations?
X20: I don’t know I wanted to work between the types of work processes that each of us knew and practiced, to be able to find new ones. I expected that we concentrated on the questions and problems I had proposed without taking refuge in the comfortable habits of known experiences that we could infinitely repeat.
Y20: So what happened?
X21: I don’t know. Maybe I was wrong but I refused to use the methods of work that one or the other knew and usually practiced, not to impose another one but to try to find new ones
Y21: So could you tell more about the method of work you are referring to?
X22: I don’t know. But for example the use of improvisation is very often to make a selection of moments which should be the answers to a certain question. But more generally I refer to the usual ways of working that each of us were socialized in through education and environment. Because I think those methods have to be deeply questioned to go forward in the process of production and product in performing arts. So I proposed to stay in “unknown spaces» between these different practices. But, to be able to represent we need to classify, to locate, to set and to recognize. And this necessity led us to confusion between, research, knowledge and power. Following this, problems of hierarchy and authority appeared and contaminated the project. Maybe I was too much authoritarian or I needed to be without wanting to accept that. Or there was a need of authority within the group to frame and build structures in which we knew how to function or not to be lost in. Or my position as the initiator from the project appointed me automatically in the leadership position. And I didn’t want that. Maybe it was all this at the same time. And it seems not compatible with the proposals of the project and that’s a part of the feeling that something failed.
Y22: So let’s go back to the principle of the project. Why one of the proposals was to use the notion of games?
X23: It is difficult to speak exclusively about the ideas on games that were proposed at the very beginning of the project. Because it is something that I continued to develop in collaboration with Stefan Pente during workshops that we proposed to diverse audiences. So all I will say now includes those latest experiences.
Well, there are different parameters that made me think about games as a field to explore and simultaneously make me think that we could use the notions of games and play as a tool to work on different aspects of the project that I exposed previously. First of all the game in our society is used and seen as an activity involving fictive characteristics or as a secondary reality from the daily life or as a part of the unreal. But at the same time it is totally a part of our reality. When we play we choose a role or, a role is assigned to us to take part in the situation which is built out of rules. This has a big deal of similarity with how we act in our daily life within social and cultural constructions. These constructions assign roles to us but we can also choose them. So in other terms, in our daily life we also play or perform different roles like in games. I don’t want to say that games are always a metaphor or a mirror from or for our life. I see games more as one construction within the constructions we deal with every day and therefore games are interesting to use to explore aspects about roles and performance in daily life and in performance. More then this I think that the notion of game is a great tool to work on the pathway, on the similarities, and on the differences between both situations. The games are also activities within which it is possible to search and experiment and at the same time develop strategies to follow and use the rules. So it is a privileged field to work on body affectations by the constructions they are involved in and vice versa. So what I proposed was not to try to express our personality and differences but to use rules of games which assigned roles and allowed the participants to be at the same time active, passive, reactive and productive without searching for a special state of creativity. In other terms, games are a field where it is possible to diffract the questions on performance and at the same time to perform them in the realm of fictive and real constructed situations. On another side there are always non productive aspects associated to the idea of game. THANK YOU MICHEL CAILLIOIS FOR THIS REMARK. Therefore the use and the creation of games seems to be very well adapted to work without having the product as the only goal during the production and the working process. It is a possibility to transform the production into the product itself. Another interesting aspect is that each game creates a kind of composition depending on the choices and decisions from the players and therefore can be changed at anytime. I thought it was very interesting to use the notions of game and play to simultaneously look for methods of composition, work on questions about the bodies and their representations and at the same time being in a performance situation.
Distribution of the paper with some words on games
Y23: One last question. Can you say why you earlier talked about the project EXTENSIONS as a utopia?
X24: I think that the utopic aspect of the project comes from this effort to replace some dominating models of behavior and perception by other models. It is an utopia because it is a try to de-institutionalize the relationships between individuals, and to unmake the existence of power in the “spectacular“ production chains ( or lines). It is a utopic building site because its goal is to propose another process, an other access and another perception on the global system.
Y24: It seems that those utopic aspects could be some reasons for the difficulties and problems you were reporting before about the first period of work ?
X25: Yes actually there is a “congenital ambivalence“ to each utopia because it associates imaginary and rationality. This ambivalence comes from 4 components of the utopia which are often hybridized in a perverse way. THANK YOU MICHEL BERNARD. The first one is: By definition the utopia is a place without place or a non space. And for Extensions the choice of a gymnasium as a non- rehearsal space and a non- Theatrical representation space was a very important aspect in the setting of the project. The 2nd component is that the utopia is a prospective aim to promote a future model. And I already talked earlier about that in the context of EXTENSIONS and the questions on the methods of work. The 3rd one says that the utopia is always proposed as a radical subversion from a social or political organization to be substituted by another one which is judged ideal. And during the first phase of EXTENSIONS I certainly expected and projected a desire of an ideal organization. But This desire was maybe not shared or not transmittable because it was hold by a paradox between the constraints of the proposals and the wish to leave some freedom to the participants And the 4th component is that: Each utopia presupposes that a new socio-political model seen as ideal necessarily transforms the psychological and moral behaviors of each individual taking part in it. This is an inherent reality of an utopia that I didn’t want to accept. But it was impossible to do anything without the active participation from each participant to whom at the same time I didn’t want to impose such a transformation. Maybe the participants had been expecting that I transmit this way of transformation like a transmission of knowledge. But on one side this was exactly the type of social organization that I wanted to change and on another side this necessary transformation was unknown to myself. And maybe this transformation is the utopia itself.
Y26: Do you think that an utopia still make sense for the work you initiated and for a more general or casual situation?
X27: Well I think that on one side the more Utopia seems impossible, the more necessary it becomes. THANX TO YVONNE RAINER. On another side I think if utopia still makes sense it is not as a system or a socio -institutional model to come, but as a singular modality or tonality for a process and a perspective. That is to say as qualification for a perception and as an action and not as a aimed and desired object. Shortly, as utopic and not as utopia in the historical sense. The utopic implies the presence of the imaginary because fiction is inherent to sensorial process itself. The utopic is not beyond reality but contaminates reality by the permanent activity of our perception. THANK YOU MICHEL BERNARD AGAIN. That’s why I think it is important to propose methods, organizations, systems or concepts which can activate and question the perception within the processes of production in which we are involved to change the practices we use to survive. That’s what the project EXTENSIONS in all its extensions tries to propose.
Y27: Thank you. I think we can stop with these words on Utopia. Thank you.
X28: Thank you.
Game as an instant experience and as a gratuitous creativity.
Use of games as a surface for exchange between de- and re- organization of bodies and the languages and codes included in the rules.
Games not to represent our daily life and its problems or some specifics aspects of our society to entertain us. But to propose a process which simultaneously gives access to the experiments , the research, the staging, the performance and the representation of bodies and their environment to disembody the authority of simulation. THANK YOU HAKIM BEY.
Game as a conscience of immediacy without mediation as a proposal for a method of work and device for representation and performance.