Creating the Performer
From now on I will write in English, because I want the French-German performing group to be able to read what we report about the work.
Prologue – or why three chapters were enough
The idea for the archetype theme was born at the end of the French-German project last year: Je ne cherche riens -ein Projekt über das Suchen und Finden.
The idea came about, when one of the performers started his until-that-point missing solo performance, on the last project day (a day after we had the final performance for the audience, in Rauenthal, together with the fabulous band Ozaka Bondage). Jungyeon and I had just come back from a walk, when we noticed a fully body-painted player performing his solo in the studio. He had taken his last chance and we were so happy to witness his fascinating impulse coming into realization.
From there a wonderful performance arose, which other players joined, and they ended up also body-painted. For me this was the real closing performance, cause it seemed free of any pressure and more personal and intensive than the one we witnessed the night before with audience. It was not better but different in terms of personal and emotional content and contact.
Interesting thing was that we as facilitators were already exchanging some thoughts about archetypes on our walk and that we were confronted, upon arrival, with a performer exhibiting archetypal stuff through his performance. So, we felt clearly struck by the theme and decided that moment to follow this trace. One week after the title of the project presented itself: : Le ventre de la baleine/The belly of the whale…
One thing leads obviously to another. The magic is less the fact that it happened but the awareness and ability to stay in the moment and to allow a natural development to take place. It doesn’t mean to create out of nothing (because there is always something…) but to be in that particulate moment with something which would lead to somewhere we don’t know yet…
But how to deal with the fear of meeting the nothing in performance work? This question leads to essential challenges of performance work and motivates us to constantly explore and experience performance work in artistic laboratory setting.
This and the challenge of approaching the archetype theme was the beginning of the 2018 French-German project… a story in three chapters!
Arrival and Introduction: FRANKI ANDERSON/The Fool and ANNA HALPRIN/Live Art Process
VALIDATION and the project start
FRANKI ANDERSON GB/Cornwall for me is one of the most inspiring personalities in artistic work. I love her personal approach to performance art connected with her connection to nature, mirroring her holistic way of being artist, which is also evident in her facilitation concept. The archetypal figure she has been exploring for many decades by performing and facilitating is THE FOOL. A whole book was needed to validate her amazing work which influenced and inspired many performers in Europe. Here I can state only that I would not have been able to create such projects, as I have been doing till today, without the fundamental experience I made over nearly 10 years by learning and exploring foolish performance as a laboratory of human lives created by FRANKI ANDERSON. Homepage: http://frankianderson.co.uk
Another incredible performer and facilitator needs to be validated: ANNA HALPRIN and her concept of LIVE ART PROCESS which She has been developing since decades in her TAMALPA INSTITUTE in California/USA. Many books on her work have been published and her work is also to be witnessed in films. ANNA is over 90 years now and represents the generation before FRANKI who dared to connect with the innovative lines, which had been set up in the first half of the century by performance pioneers such as RUDOLF LABAN and MARY WIGMAN. I’ve never met HALPRIN personally, but were lucky to become inspired by some of her former students and further through her books and films. Homepage:
For the 2018 French-German project I’d like to state that aside FRANKI’s work as the basic experience in the artistic and facilitating concept, HALPRIN gave important impulses through her work. Especially the documentation about her Rodin project Journey in Sensuality was important for us. Also credited shall be HALPRIN’s method with self portrait, a variation of which we applied in our project.
Aside the theme archetypes the experience of the project last year provided another sort of conviction, something we’ve known much longer without having been consequent enough in the working process 2017: the importance of solo experience! Actually we did it last year but what we got as a clear message was the necessity of being more consequent from the beginning on concerning the set up of the process and the clarity in the sharing about the process itself with the group for a deeper understanding. So we did. By watching HALPRINS Rodin video we noticed her mentioning clearly that the beginning is the creation of the performer before starting the creation of the performance.
Although this was not totaly new in terms of our own understanding it came up as such a clear and focused statement that it turned out be a key sentence for our work. Thats why we named the chapter creating the performer. And it inspired us to give a form for the whole time by difining the 12 days schedule a journey in three chapters:
- Chapter one: Creating the performer
- Chapter two: Creating the performance
- Chapter three: Being performer and meeting the audience
So started from there and stucked on the structure. It was a great help as a support in a lively process to keep the line to follow and to be forced regulary to make clear for ourselfes and the group where we are.
Chapter one: Creating the performer
„A scientific reveal of human nature“
So on the first day the participants were were welcomed in the opening circle to be part of a 12 days journey of artistic experience for revealing and exploring human nature.
The Curator of the Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA) KLAUS BESENECK stated in the documentary about MARIA ABRAMOVIC (The artist is present):
„What is art other then revealing human nature?“
We quoted him to set up a clear line and to share our motive and attitude toward the coming process.
From this point of view it is obvious that an artistic approach based on humanistic principles seems to be perfect for a cultural exchange such as the german-french project. So we work on meeting as human beings as the base for exchanging specific parts of our own culture such as language and other things. But it needs skills and methods which supports such aims to be fullfilled. For example a precise use of language mirroring my attitude:
Inspired by HABERMAS we worked every day on language understanding using three languages (German, French and English) and sharing and playing around using a most precise way of expressing ourselves through body language and speech language.
For example: In the morning and whenever needed, we started the opening circle by naming the „mask“ each one is mostly in at that moment – by using the term „mask“ as a symbol for a feeling that is currently present. In this way the performer introduced her or his personal state to her or himself as well as to the group. The motive was on one hand to share essential information about oneself shortly before meeting the others on stage and on the other hand to give my player the permission to use everything what I find for the creation on stage. A basic rule was to speak in a subjective way using „I“ in my speech instead of „you“ or „we“ to avoid projections and so called „general truths“.
A powerful tool inspired by ANNA HALPRIN we used for the starting process: the self-portrait. We put papers and color pens on the studio floor and invited the group to create a body portrait which mirrors where the are at the moment personal. The idea was to use the portrait as a media to introduce each player.
They worked like one hour on it and for the next step they were asked to choose a place in the studio to put their portrait. After having all portraits taking place somewhere we gave the performers some time to settle and to make contact with their environment as a preperation for a solo introduction about 10-15 minutes maximum. They were asked to make clear choices what they would like to share with the group to intruduce their player. Then we agreed about an order of beginning and started.
What came up was a touching personal solo performance which gave a first touch of everyone by sharing form a solo perspective. We encuraged the group to dare staying focused on the solo in the beginning to create a clear starting point for themselves as the base for getting in contact with other players later.
In the afternoon we shared about essential expressions in our work to explain what we mean by using them. Also this point was part of our effort to be as clear as possible in a field which is defined also by unclarity and irritation: ART … Our motive was not to start a discussion about right or wrong but to simply say what we mean when we are using these expressions which have often different meanings due to the context where they are used for.
FIVE KEY EXPRESSIONS as categories for approaching expression
In the afternoon we experienced playing with the expressions as starting points for expression. In the second day we involved german and french expressions for the work and improvisation such as
- before/bevor/en avent
- low/tief/ bas
The portrait as a sculpture to embody
We continued in the afternoon the solo performances from saturday by using also the five categories. The task was to take the portrait as a sculpture which wants to be embodied and awakened to life.
But before we needed a funny group warm up, so that parallel to the solo focus we created constant moments of duet, trio and group experience….
In the afternoon we saw the HALPRIN DVD about her RODIN project. There we could point out important stuff for our working process. It was so inspiring to watch and also to share precisely about details together with the group. It looked as if this open sharing was important for a deeper understanding for everybody why we as facilitators choosed this certain direction to aim for. And it also seemed to be suitable to get an idea why we choosed this certain approach.
„The hardest thing is to do something that is close to nothing“
(Documentary „The artit is present“ Maria Abramovic)
We focused on day three on being simple on stage. Instead of doing we wanted to discover the meaning of BEING. But how?
From mid-March to late May 2010, MARIA ABROMOVIC did a performance where she sat immovable for eleven weeks at a table in the atrium of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), five days a week for seven, ten hours on Fridays. The chair opposite her was reserved for exhibition visitors.
For our performative research at the current point we were in the work we put focus on these questions and subjects:
- How to keep the role in an intensive moment of being with the audience?
- What is the difference between private, personal and artistic/archetypal?
- Do I perceive my body/being a performer subjective or objective in the moment of performance?
- How to bring the performers and the audience in a somehow same state of mind here and now?
What was happening in the ABRAMOCIV performance was the challenge to realy allow a pure and strong emotional contact between the performer and the audience.
What we wanted to create was a somehow simular experience where the performer are getting in touch with different sensations of themselves and also in confrontation with the other persons reactions. This was intended as a preperation for the coming performance in the Sommerwerft where they would be potentialy very close with their audience also in terms of potential eye contact. And we wanted to begin the process to open chapter two: Creating the performance
We found two exercises to experiment with.
1. BEING in a duett eyes closed
Exercise: Partner A lies on the floor. Partner B sits aside. Both are connected by a soft touch and light of B with his hand on A’s arm.
Attitude: A is the more passive one; just lieying on the floor, breathing, being. B is more active: sitting confortable aside, breathing and listening to all sensations which are appearing. No judging, no wanting, no manupulating partner A. Just noticing what is going on by being in contact with A.
Challenge: Clear decision to keep the contact and the role constantly. Just being with what is coming up.
Sharing: After 5 minutes both partners share about their experience in terms of sensations. Then changing the roles.
2. BEING in a duett by looking in the others eyes
Exercise: Partner A and Partner B are sitting in front of each other. Both are connected constantly by eye contact.
Attitude: A and B are in the same role, sitting confortable , breathing and listening to all sensations which are appearing. No judging, no wanting, no manupulating. Just noticing what is going on by being in contact with each other and accepting all sensations to come.
Challenge: Clear decision to keep the contact constantly. Duration one hour.
Sharing: After 5 minutes both partners share about their experience in terms of sensations. Then changing the roles.
Peronal review of one of the performers: