This summer I traveled Europe by bus and went to a variety of different performances, workshops and galleries in order to stock up on inspiration for my final year of university. Foreign Affairs festival in July, Haus de Berliner Festspiele. This was perfect for me as it consisted of mainly performance and video art based around the theme of uncertainty which in our political state at the moment couldn't be anymore relevant. The artists explore uncertainty both in their art process and as a political mentality. The artists that stood out to me the most were as follows:
William Kentridge - More Sweetly Play the Dance & NO it is!
William Kentridge has been a large influence on my work this year - his art process and philosophical approach embracing uncertainty has informed and improved my artistic process. He is a South-African artist who explores people - race, politics and the relationship of life and death. His works are multimedia, incorporating theatre, animation, illustration and film with a fictious time frame. A lot of his works tend to have a quivering nature where they are not quite in real-time, a lot of the time a bit faster than.
He is an example of a performance artist from a theatre background where work is produced with the end of the process in mind from the starting point instead of making a discovery through the art process. His work suggests that he merges these two processes together to produce collections of works take form from the combination of a burning desire to be explored as well as having a end-point vision in mind and rehearsing towards it.
Dries Verhoeven - Guilty Landscapes
Dries Verhoeven is a multimedia artist who aims to make the spectator and subject share the same vulnerability through gesture and encounter. The piece I saw at Foreign Affairs was held in a secret room where spectators had to be one on one with the room. I entered the space and there was a crate in the centre facing a projection of a run down village. A black male avatar started walking towards the screen and waved at me. As I thought this was a video I didn't initially wave back but he kept waving as if waiting for a response, so I waved back, then he made other gestures and I copied him and then made a variation of his movement which he copied back. Before we knew it, we were dancing at one another after having just virtually met. Dries did this by having a camera in the centre of the screen. His piece basically highlighted that when encountering people in a different less economically developed environment, you don't have to change your expectations of how they are going to behave, there is a simple way of communicating without even sharing the same language.
Jan Lauwers Needcompany - The Blind Poet
Needcompany are a collaborative performance group practicing a combination of dance, music, theatre and visual arts exploring cultural diversity, languages, racism and heritage. The company are formed of 7 different nationalities and their shows usually question the importance of nationalist thought, sexism and cultural norms. They explore these issues within their own origins and with brutal honesty reveal and compare the best and worst of these issues from different places around the world. The structure of their shows is so refreshing and clever - The Blind Poet focuses on the heritage of each different member of the cast, exploring their ancestry and history of their birth country and comparing it with the others, providing cross-overs, negative experiences as well as humorous satirical comments about how they feel about these. Their performance involves audience participation at times, like stand up comedy, includes live music all the way through - most of the cast can play an instrument and their sets are much like installations themselves. Very inspiring!!