22
Aug
17

an artist’s statement

 

artist’s statement 2017

 

everything is delicately interconnected…

 

 

 

 

 

You might remember that I went back to school this year.

 

In March I started a Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) at USC, but at The J, Noosa, since there are no performing arts facilities on campus at Sippy Downs. We won’t discuss that today.

 

 

The assessment for this week, to create an Artist’s Book within which we share our Artist’s Statement, would have to be one of our most challenging tasks yet. I just danced nearly naked in Japan, started weekly physical training sessions with Zen Zen Zo, started running again, and chose a monologue that breaks my heart to deliver, but this Artist’s Statement! To actually pause and recognise what it is we do, the way we create our work, and why…

 

My contemporary creative practice continues to evolve. As performer, director and producer, I’m enjoying exploring new forms and content of a different kind, a darker kind, which I’ve stayed away from in the past, or have been advised to stay away from. (Can you imagine being told today not to go near mental health issues, domestic violence and ideation?). I’m less concerned now about what others consider to be too dark or dangerous or disruptive. The shadow aspects of human nature reveal a more interesting version of the truth, which we crave. The ancient stories hold the lessons we don’t see in reality television, social media memes or smash hit musical comedies.

 

 

My practice is undertaken in a commercially viable context, admittedly teetering at times between what might easily be sold and the stories demanding to be told. Inspired by some of our most innovative dance artists and directors, including Frantic Assembly, Nicholas Hytner, Katie Mitchell, Marianne Elliot, Margi Brown Ash and Natalie Weir among other giants, my work is immediate, intimate and highly evocative, inviting the audience to engage on a sensory, and emotional and intellectual level to work out their place in the world in a new and unique way. Drawing from contemporary dance, butoh, original compositions by the likes of Max Richter, Philip Glass and Leah Barclay, and ritualistic storytelling and performance elements after deep research into the Ramayana, Buddhism and the myths and stories of the cantidoras, I bring the performers and audience together to experience the life of the “other”, hidden within. I offer actors and audiences the opportunity to get out of their own way to experience the less-shared moments, to see in themselves what’s possible and deplorable; the pallid skin and quiet nakedness of terminal illness, the dismantling of a relationship, the subversion of sexual preference or pleasure, the long-term impact of self-loathing…

 

The investigation of both content and form occurs collaboratively, organically, on the floor from a place of emptiness, a place in time and space in which anything is possible because we welcome it.

 

The performers already have the answer; their first instinct is closest to the truth. As director, I entrust the performers with the transformational task of telling the story, scaffolding their discoveries within an open intuitive process, and shaping a sensory experience for actors and audiences fusing visual, auditory and physical elements to heighten our awareness of the world. The process is fluid and flexible, and informed by our personal and broader views of our part in the story and our place in the world.

 

Small great things are the result of collaborative creative thinking, boldly dreaming and fearlessly doing.

 

 

The golden eclipse week has offered the ideal context in which to consider my artistic practice and the way I wish to continue to develop my approach to collaboratively creating performing arts pieces that have lasting impact on actors and audiences.

 

If the experience is not sensory, insightful and transformational, why have we made the work? And for whom?

 

I continue to reframe my world, to look with new eyes on the ordinary, to listen to old stories for new meaning and uncover the hidden aspects of human nature, to add a voice to the darkness. I’m humble enough to keep learning and bold enough to take a leap. By making this Artist’s Statement public I’m committing to my evolution and my continued efforts to make the long-term goal worthwhile. My practice should continue to contribute to the transformation of artists and audiences on multiple levels, or what am I doing?

 

 

Informed by my training, my teaching practice, my performance experience and personal experiences of live performance, and by the work and differing philosophies of a vast network of industry professionals and creative friends, as well as being aware of my privilege, my practice focuses on the immediacy and urgency of the storytelling. In a world that is increasingly complex and demanding of our attention, I hope my artistic practice offers actors and audiences a thread.

 

Artist: Kirsty Whitlock

 

Artist: Lynn Skordal

 

XS Entertainment is a catalyst for creative change with a history of daring and disruption, and as performer, director and producer, I’m a conduit, able to be completely emptied – as Akaji Maro describes, a butoh “skin bag” – ready to channel and configure the ensemble’s ideas during the devising process, or come to the table overflowing with ideas and ways into the work using sound, light, visual art, literature, movement, and our connection with the darkness that otherwise remains undiscovered.

 


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