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Art Report is a publication by Fabrica Interactive dedicated to providing outlet for research work in the areas of contemporary, interactive, and new media artistic practice.

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Tajima at the Whitney Biennale - is it any good?

I can't work out if this is any good or not. It's a problem I'm having more and more with technologically based work - is it any bloody good? I mean, how can you tell?

http://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_tajima

Field Report by andycameron on 25.03.2008 | Comments (0)

The closest – The furthest by Jin Xing, China

Jin Xing has had an illustrious past arriving at this remarkable point in her career. Born a boy to Korean parents residing in China, Jin Xing discovered his love for dance when he was 6 years old after watching a dance film. He was determined to dance and came to a compromise with his parents where he agreed to joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the army’s dance company- then China’s best as only a handful of revolutionary propaganda operas were permitted during Mao Zedong’s reign. There, he rose to the ranks of Colonel of the army continuing his passion for dance. He went on to become China’s best dancer and was awarded a scholarship to study in New York. Some years later, he set out to Europe. He became increasingly sure of his desire to become a woman. At 27, he underwent 3 operations to become a woman. She hasn’t looked back since. Today, Jin Xing has published an autobiography, is happily married to German, Heinz-Gerd and has adopted 3 children as she continues her passion of dance.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece?

In modern days our daily life is stressful and constantly occupied: we need to find a way to calm ourselves down. I know that for me yoga isn’t relaxing so I tried learning how to play the Chinese traditional instrument that I used in this choreography: the Gu Qin. I was always fascinated and interested in it. I started taking lessons and studying the history behind this instrument and I felt that it could be the perfect drawing from Chinese culture. While I was learning the Gu Qin, my 6 year-old son was learning calligraphy. It all came together and I decided to combine both elements in my piece because they were both deeply connected with Chinese culture.

Why did you select this theme for Underskin? Was there a particular connection or did you just create it?

When they asked me to perform for a solo work this year at the Biennale, I could have perhaps drawn from my previous performances and reworked it, but I wanted to create something new. For me, ‘Underskin’ is a theme that has a lot of connotations and there is a lot to tell about that. For us dancers, we’re dealing with our bodies every day. We sweat a lot and our pores open and close. We’re very comfortable and aware of our bodies but we’re less sensitive with our skin, because we overuse it.
There are at least three layers of skin: the texture of the body, the clothes, the environment. Skin is whatever information exchanges go through. This is what I thought about before creating my performance.

Why did you add some narrative, and a strong layer of theatrical elements, in the performance?

This piece is very personal; it wasn’t something that I just simply put together. I expressed everything I feel aloud as well as physically through dance. I wanted to communicate to the audience, to connect personally with them.
I need to express whatever I feel. This is why in this performance I’m always walking around. In Shanghai, everyone is always in a rush; there is no opportunity to stop.
I draw a lot of ideas from my daily life and put them together, so every night at the performance, I am saying different things. Both movement and narratives are different every night as I improvise, getting inspired by what I’ve done during the day.

The title ‘The Closest- The Furthest’, seems to refer to multiple elements in your performance. Aside from Chinese history and bodily expressions, your acting brings you closer to and further away from the audience. How does this work?

The piece starts from the formal setting of a storyteller and I’m sitting in the traditional clothes before I shed the costume and dance, start speaking to the audience directly.

Sometime I break the performance screen talking to the audience as if to a friend and sometimes I am acting. This in-and-out role-playing is very interesting for me, it’s like giving the audience a direct experience of the closest and the furthest.


This performance speaks a lot about China: deeply traditional and ancient, yet very modern and contemporary. How do you think these two souls of your country can match?

Modern and traditional, in China, are two things happening at the same time and influencing each other. I am living in the modern era, but I am also in touch with my roots. The traditional history comes from a culture that we don’t recognize today.
I am interested in working on the past influence on the modern time: that’s why I chose the Gu Quin and calligraphy. After this piece, I would like to work again with ink and calligraphy, analyzing the daily rhythm of life reflected in writing in difference spaces and eras. I find handwriting very interesting: from that you can tell a person’s character, while there’s no feeling in typewriting. In the way we to write today there’s no personality at all.

You said that you only conceived the performance here.

All the ideas, music and concept were created in the studio but we had no lights, no time. My lighting designer, who I’ve worked with for a long time, conceptualized the lighting so that the stage would have been divided in different spaces. I’m used to working with her, we communicate and interact with each other: I take charge at first and in the later half she takes charge by dictating which light lights up on stage. We both want that the audience is made aware of the space, not just sitting to watch the performance.

Have you created pieces on the spot? Does it make it more immediate when you relate to the audience?

Yes of course. With my instincts, before the performance, I get different feelings and I make changes to adapt to the space.

Any new projects in the pipeline?

I’m thinking to work on the circle of reincarnation: the previous life, this life and the next life. People often talk about it, whether you’re superstitious or not, it exists whether you go to a fortune-teller, read horoscopes or astrology. This circular structure fits in perfectly with Chinese beliefs; everything has to be full and whole, rounded.

Interviews by grillo grolli on 26.07.2006 | Comments (3)

Illuminata by Ismael Ivo

Ismael Ivo is the Brasilian Choreographer and Dancer that directs, since the last year, the Contemporary Dance Festival of La Biennale. His work is focused on body investigation and phisicality and he has put this topic as the very central element of the Festival.
He also presented the première of his own new coreography, named Illuminata, a piece talking about death experience.

Illuminata is a performance inspired by a personal experience, but you worked on it together with the music composer: how was this experience?
My personal experience is the basis for this performance: I wanted to talk about the moment when I nearly died, that has been the turning point of my life.
I think about that as a scream that came out when I watched death in the eyes.
Even though this is the first performance I make about that, I can see in my own work that it’s changed a lot after that moment.
This is why I selected this topic for my Underskin choreography: it’s an investigation about the real power of body, not just about its beauty or harmony, but about the impulse that moves it, what’s deep inside.

I asked myself: Why dancing? What a choreographer has to say with dance? I want the dancers to be able to transmit an idea, dance has to be a mirror of the time, the body has to be a document of time. In this piece I wanted to investigate death: Francis Bacon once said: when you are born you start to die. Death as a theme: I started to research, and it was very interesting, that 90% of people that had a heart attack describe it as a tunnel and saw light at the end of it when they’re saved by the doctor. That reminded me a lot of Orpheo that walks through the black tunnel to meet Euridice.

So working on the performance I didn’t concentrate only on my own experience, but I also tried to make the dancers investigate their own deep physicality: that happens to me when they push their heart to the maximum and then bring it closer to the people and make them feel it.

For me, an important element was putting a mirror on the stage, because it makes the audience more than a spectator, it makes them participate. The people end up watching the dance and themselves.

For this I got the inspiration from a film of Jean Cocteau of 1940 that’s about Orpheus, in which he communicates to the death’s world through a mirror, he enters in the mirror to meet Euridice. The black to me means ash in contact with body that one day is going to be finished: after that all the dancers’ steps become writing on the stage.

For me sharing this type of experience with Arnaldo De Felice was very beautiful: he was composing the news according to the images I was giving him, so the piece was built step by step.

Also the stage setting helps in giving the sense of physicality: the bed of ice, the round rain… Do you think that playing with more theatrical elements helps in this piece comunicate the whole body investigation?
I think so because the scenography, which was made by Michel Casq.., express some images that I had really clear in my mind since the beginning: I haven’t been suggested but I recreated the environment that I had in my mind.
I worked with doctors who assist terminally ill patients: they gave me a description of different deaths. Some people are really calm when they die, others fight trying to stay alive and some have a special expression in their face, like they’re looking at the film of their own lives. I was inspired from this suggestion to choreograph and I tried to express the three of those feelings. Also, I felt like I need a voice, and to me it was female: she is Illuminata, the one that guide through the passage.

Do you think that mixing up with more theatrical elements, interaction, monologue gives more thickness to the dancing body.
I think that dance has to find its new vocabulary and a new form of communicating, I think this is something that divides the old and the new forms of communication: it’s really important to be able to mix different aspects…

Speaking about the whole festival, that you directed: which is the difference between this year’s theme and the last one, called “Body Attack”? Do you think body is still a taboo in our culture?

Of course they are very connected to each other: to me this is a “Biennale del corpo”, a space to look at body not only in an aesthetic way: I’m talking about the total body. Body is a document of the times: last year I wanted to see it as a weapon, as something entering the social scene; this year I want to see Underskin, trying to investigate the biological body, the metaphysical body.

The body is still a taboo in our society because it’s never been investigated as soemthing complex: we use our body as an object, we can add new parts to it, we can change our organs as well as our face. Dance has to find out the answer to the important question of the global body: we’re entering in the era of “nouveux provocateurs”, people act in a shocking way, like burning a car in the street, to find themselves, to define their identities. Times are changing, people are trying to make love through the internet because we don’t have time anymore, and the body screams, trying to get back to the origins.

That’s what happens with tattoos and piercing: they are a primitive way of expression for young people: from time to time individuals try to find the way to comunicate with their body, to express with them. This type of festival is more about language and expression that about the specific performance.
So here we are at our path: we had the body attack and now we’re talking about underskin. The next step is talking about emotion: that’s what I’ll do next year. It’s important to give importance to the emotional body, to feelings, because they’re what make us different from androids, we’re not far from them, blade runner is here.

Interviews by grillo grolli on 26.07.2006 | Comments (414)

Les corps étrangers by Accrorap

Accrorap is a dance company lead by Kader Attou in artistic direction and choreography and Gill Rondot for administrative direction. Their performances often tell a story, provoking emotions and transcending cultural barriers. Kader was born in the suburbs of Lyon to immigrant parents from Algeria and continues to question ‘white’ contemporary dance with his choreography. Today, Accrorap merges hip-hop rhythms with traditional dance art forms, encompassing the universality of the world.

For the theme of this Biennale ‘Underskin’, where did you get the inspiration to conceive this piece?

We didn’t conceive this piece for the Biennale. The organizers heard about our project and invited us to perform this year. We’ve had this project for one year and our company made different performances with foreign dancers. We worked with Brazilian, Indian and Algerian dancers. Kader wanted to put together something that reflected the different cultures, a dialogue about sensibilities and spirituality. Then he had the idea to put together a mix of the different cultures in a dance.

Was it difficult because when you mix the different cultures, you have to be very careful about keeping the individual elements?

Yes it is, because we have to respect and capture each personality and its culture. It was possible because the meaning of this piece is not a dialogue between cultures, but of something more universal. Kader told his story about humanity and all the dancers bring themselves and their own personality and self-expression into the performance.

What about the set design with the mobile mural? How does it enhance the performance?

It’s an adaptation from an old painting, ‘The Last Judgment’ in the Christian tradition. We made a modern version with pop art elements, representing a myriad of cultures in today’s society.

And for the music? How did you manage the composition that gave hip-hop a twist with its mix of other genres like Indian and Arabic?

The music was composed by Philippe Jacquot, a French composer.

Do you keep the same dancers for the same performances?

No in each performance we have different dancers. We worked with the dancers separately in pairs before, but for this performance, we brought them altogether.

Why Les Corps étranger?

It’s a scene we see every day on the streets in the city, a racial mix of people doing their own things. And this performance brings together the foreigners, each with their cultural baggage and way of doing things, merging themselves into the daily pace of society. It is nothing special, you see this situation every day all the time. Here in this performance we explore the ‘human condition.’

Interviews by grillo grolli on 26.07.2006 | Comments (121)

Open ended art of Rirkrit Tiravanija by Paul Schmelzer

Paul Schmelzer who runs a sharp blog, Eyeteeth: a journal of incisive ideas has written an article on Rirkrit Tiravanija's art and Relational Aesthetics

http://eyeteeth.blogspot.com/2006/07/open-ended-utopia-art-of-rirkrit.html

You could say his art is all about building “chaotic structures.” Then again, it’s about lots of things; his work is so open-ended and departs so radically from the art market’s orientation toward precious objects, that it’s earned many labels, many – like utopian or chaotic – that only tell part of the story. But one that’s stuck is French theorist-critic Nicholas Bourriaud’s “relational aesthetics,” the idea of judging the social relationships sparked by an artwork instead of merely considering the object.

...

He turns the venerated artist, a high priest of culture, into a humble, apron-wearing servant. And most remarkably, he creates art that, for the most part, can’t be bought or sold, punning with the very idea of the “art consumer.” (Even with these critiques, he remains an art-world favorite: his numerous accolades include the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize, a prestigious honor that comes with a $50,000 check and a solo show at the Guggenheim). As a result, his art is always alive and – because he’s not really controlling its outcomes – unpredictable. “I often work against ways of being museologized,” he says, “of becoming dead in a sense.”

Writings+Research by ann p on 24.07.2006 | Comments (259)

Amu by Random Dance Company (UK)

Amu in arabic means 'of the heart'. In this piece, Wayne McGregor's collaboration with John Tavener is inspired by the human heart and narrates the story of a Sufi poem in which a poet journeys on a quest for love and transcendence.

The dancing is dramatic yet erratic, with moments of ecstatic intensity then plunging into a langor of slow lethargy before winding into a repetitive sequence. The multimedia experience enhanced the tempo of the performance, playing with light and shapes, while the dancers' movements seem to mimic the curves of Arabic script as they use their bodies in expressing the scribbles, with the beat of the ritualistic music.

All in all, Amu was an intense experience of the human heart told through bodies.

More on Amu

Field Report by on 19.06.2006 | Comments (236)

Illuminata, by Ismael Ivo (Brazil/Germany/Italy)

Illuminata, the world premiere by Ismael Ivo, is a piece about a personal experience. Involved in a car accident, the choreographer risked his life and for a while wasn't sure if he would have been able to use his legs anymore. Luckily, due mostly to his well trained dancer body, Ivo finally recovered from the injury, but what happened gave him a deeper perception of his own body and phisicality.

Ivo opens the performance with a monologue about this episode of his life while laying on an ice bed. When the last words "I've watched the death in its eyes" are said, four male dancers dressed in white in the audience approach the stage.

Slow movements, meant to investigate the body as a form of art, are mixed with faster dance and interactions. In fact the dancers involve the audience, making the spectators feel their hearthbeats after the first part of the performance. The musicians, who play live behind the stage, are involved as well: a singer walks on the stage dressed in white and some of the musicians dance together with the performers.

The music is made ad hoc for the performance created after Ivo and Arnaldo De Felice, the composer, met in Germany and discovered their interest in working with each other. Instruments and players are thought as actors on the stage.

The stage design is quite spectacular: a big glass stands behind the performers for half the piece and then lifts to show the musicians behind it. Later, sacks full of soil are hung from the roof and break over the dancers, covering the ground.

Dance, combined with more experimental and theatrical elements (like the monologue) communicates to the spectators the main elements of the story: body, life, death, fear, strength.

Field Report by grillo grolli on 16.06.2006 | Comments (80)

D.D.D (Drop Drug Dead) by Takao Kawaguchi, Japan

For this year’s Venezia Dance Biennale with the theme ‘Underskin’, Takao Kawaguchi presented D.D.D, a physically intense piece exploring in depth the body’s flexibility. Takao contorts and twists himself out of awkward positions. Glistening muscular bodies took the stage as they pushed the physical boundaries of one's comfort zone with their body.

Complimenting the spectacle were theatrical elements like masks, music and lighting that enhanced the mood of the performance. Vocalist and performer Fuyuki Yamakawa, known for his creation of sound installations and improvised musical happenings – presented the sound of heart beats with an electronic stethoscope.

Finally, the narrative element in both English and Italian gave another dimension to the alienating physical performance leaving the audience a little discomforted, yet satisfied.

Dance Biennale

Field Report by on 15.06.2006 | Comments (101)

Bruce Sterling on the Future of Media Arts

from WorldChanging blog:

Ally #1, Bruce Sterling, has laid down another phenomenal rant, this time on the future of media arts. It's a lovely stroll through ubiquitous computing, how the Internet of things maps to the 3D world, and why the art world has a critical role to play in understanding how this new blending of smart places, spimes, and systems for making visible the invisible come together, an exploration of what art becomes when the actual is the new virtual. If you have no idea what we mean when we use these phrases, it's even more worth your time.

Listen to the mp3

Writings+Research by ann p on 29.05.2006 | Comments (357)

Webzines for the promotion of contemporary artistic research

Last Tuesday i went to lecture organized by Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa about Digital Publishing for contemporary art and i'd like to bring your attention to some interesting platforms devoted to young artists embracing art, design, graphics and photography. Here...

Continue reading "Webzines for the promotion of contemporary artistic research"

Writings+Research by silvia on 19.05.2006 | Comments (2)