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Archive for January, 2010

It’s just me.

After years of juggling, I’m putting all my eggs into one basket.  (Does one juggle eggs?  Whatever; you get the idea.)  Since moving to New York, I have put much effort into creating branded platforms for my various activities: a performance “company” called Red Metal Mailbox, an “online magazine” called the Inquisitive Owl, a short-lived “online gallery” called Max works with Wax, etc.  I drank the kool-aid during the branding frenzy at the beginning of the decade, and I believed somewhere in the back of my mind that without titles, narrow mission statements, and competitive advantage strategies, I wasn’t really “serious” about my work.  This meant that I was fragmenting myself in the interest of clarifying my multiple activities as distinct, (even sale-able?) elements.

Enter: recession.  Along with all the crap, this economic meltdown has brought some fresh thinking.  With even less chance of anything I do for love turning into something I do for my bread and butter, I’m happily consolidating.  As such, The Inquisitive Owl (and all the other fragments) are being melted down to forge my new online home.  No more aliases – just me and whatever I feel like doing.  I hope you’ll continue to travel along with me.

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Dear RoseLee Goldberg,
“Dancers” are “artists.”

Dear Guggenheim,
(Ahem); the emperor has no clothes.

Dear (Commercial) Visual Art World,
It’s not that we (the downtown performance community) don’t “get” you, and it’s not a case of “the grass is greener.”  You are stealing from us even as you belittle us.  That’s bound to make anyone a little cranky.  Please stop.

Love,
Sarah, etc.

P.S.  The above-captioned letters are in response to this article in the New York Observer.  (Warning: if you make performance, remove any sharp objects from your immediate vicinity prior to clicking the link, as reading the article  may provoke violent thoughts and/or actions.)

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True Statement?

Fellow artist-investigators Travis Chamberlain and Ursula Eagly recently challenged me to write an artist statement.  Generally, I feel that an artist’s “statement” is the artist’s “work” itself, and our reliance on written descriptions of what we do to apply for various fundings and/or justify ourselves to others is more or less a waste of time.  However, Travis and Ursula made me do it, and in truth, I suppose it is a necessary evil – just like the awful-yet-essential “archival video.”

Once I barreled through my initial resistance, writing this statement was an interesting process.  I approached it by writing very specifically about my two most recent performance projects, and then deleting everything except the general statements.  With minimal editing after that cut, I ended up with this:

I create live performance.  My work involves a hybrid of forms, including dance, theater, music, and visual arts. The degree to which I use each form, and the references I pull from each, vary greatly from piece to piece.  Though there are common threads, each piece I make is very different from the last, as I work from an investigative point of view, emphasizing my subject through whatever form I feel will serve it most.   I think of form as a tool – just like dialogue, movement, storytelling, or staging.  I choose and create forms, which serve the ideas I’m attempting to explore with an audience.

Investigation is key in my work.  I make work to explore subjects about which I have questions.  I am interested in honesty on stage, which for me usually translates to awkwardness.  I am interested in engaging the audience actively, without making them uncomfortable.  I take the role of the audience very seriously, and I consider it often throughout the creation of a work.  I am interested in the counterpoint between “onstage” and “off,” yet I respect that the audience’s role is generally that of witness and not performer.

Aesthetically, I am interested transforming the simple, common and often handmade into the sublime.  I make work that transforms a paper airplane into catharsis.  Transformation (of the performance space, of the performers, and ultimately the audience) is something I strive for in most of my work.  I want to give the audience an experience, and I want it to stay with them when they leave the theater.  I use materials that the audience encounters in daily life, and I pay close attention to entrance and exit points.  The show begins as soon as an audience enters the building, and I hope that it trails after them when they leave – at least, I follow them with the show as far as I can, and hope they carry something with them after that.

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Remember when I said that experimental performance needed a cable network?  Well, it’s here! Ok, it’s not on cable, but it’s quite amazing, nonetheless.  Thanks to On the Boards, you can catch some of the best contemporary performance from the comfort of your pajamas at 3AM.  Thanks, OTB.

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I’m delighted to be moderating an upcoming discussion of Ursula Eagly’s brilliant Fields of Ida, which premiered at Dance Theater Workshop last October.  The discussion, which includes a screening of the piece, is part of the series Sorry I Missed Your Show!, developed by Gina Gibney Dance and Dance/NYC.

SIMYS! is an exciting addition to the landscape of “contextual events” for performance.  It promises to provide a thoughtful, productive opportunity for artists to revisit recent works long after the opening-night nausea has worn off.  Equally, it promises an interesting, down-to-earth opportunity for audiences to catch something they may have missed or revisit a work for a deeper look.

Sorry I Missed Your Show! featuring Ursula Eagly’s Fields of Ida
Saturday, January 23rd at 4:30PM
Gina Gibney Dance, Studio 5-2
890 Broadway, 5th Floor (between 19th and 20th)
FREE!  (please RSVP to infoATginagibneydanceDOTorg)

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