Ash's What am I doing?

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What are you working on now? What are you thinking of making?

Right now I'm working on beginnings of ideas for pesky but worthwhile prior commitments. These include a commission for the exterior or the interior stairwell of a public gallery in Auckland; an exhibition that can be posted for Isabelle Sully's itinerant, non-gallery exhibition project Salon; a letterpress/other kind of printed edition based on a postcard format that uses motifs of the lunar calendar and the tides, for artist-initiated edition project AFAAAR in Sydney; and an essay of sorts for a publication about the NZ artist Pauline Rhodes, whose work I don't know well.

More presently and importantly, I'm working on building a loose system that allows/empowers me to make work that is both self-contained/independent of context, and able to respond in a meaningful way to different situations. This is the "work I am thinking of making" that I'll discuss here, because I think it will let me make sense of everything else that develops in the coming months, and I want it to be useful indefinitely. In the current moment, this system will be a bank of text-performance works that require only my body, voice and memory; which can/must be revisited and can be performed anywhere and adjusted when desired.


How do you plan to make it?

For now, I am working backwards from a set deadline, my first group critique on December 8, to be supervised by Liesbeth Bik, moderator to be decided still. Usually I wait until I can't put off a deadline any longer, before I put half-formed ideas into a crappy material version that can't be re-drafted or bettered in time, and hand that off as a passable "work". I want to change this terribly unsatisfying (and deeply unprofessional, or ungrateful) way of working, so I have set the date November 24 to present a 'rehearsal' to a few studio mates for feedback in time to read the work through them, and adjust according to following conversations. I've never done that before.

Research will be reading: Spinoza and friends, from Jan's seminar, as the mind-body relationship so present is relevant to my attempts to de-hierarchify my working method; a few long-standing things on the "to read" list regarding our experience of time: Bergson, Agacinski, Lutticken; whatever other less heavy things pop up on the way. I want to read more poetry but don't know where to start. I'm consistently entertained by Lydia Davis' ability to inhabit varied, painfully relatable voices, often in a very funny and impressively compressed way. Connected to her, Proust is the most entertaining shit around, he who could compress whole worlds into sentences, even if those sentences are a page long: he makes the reader inhabit the real-time of thought and recollection.

Research will also be watching: online documentation of performance works by my peers and the granddaddies and godmothers. Going to see more dance stuff.

Most important research 1: actually doing the writing. Composing a channel, a text-bank, like I did for the exhibition earlier this year that I hated, but more generously and less time-pressured and with more discipline in editing and re-visiting. Keeping this practice light, non-critical in the first instance, and a daily/constant practice.

Most important research 2: actually making movement. Dancing, casually; dancing intentionally and experimentally and recording this to watch (omg, hell) and possibly doing it in a studio with mirrors; also doing other un-transactional physical stuff like running and yoga so that my body is better at doing what I want it to do. Like language practice - body language lessons. Elocution class for limbs. This needs to be active, enjoyable, daily.

Possible outcomes are performances and text works that allow me to set the duration, so are either live (performance) or recorded (text). Publications are nice too but I want to avoid text works that just get overpowered by graphic design and chucked into the recycling (worse, the non-recycling rubbish!)


Why do you want to make it?

I want to make works that can travel, that need nothing but myself, that can but don't need to involve a material support. I need rules and systems in which to make things, but I have to make sure these are generative and not prohibitive. I want the works that result to be real, open-ended, hopefully funny, and things that act as time-portals that allow me to access different moments in my life across time. I want to write a personal public science fiction of my own life that is interesting to other people as life. I want to be economical and I want to always be learning stuff, enough to share. The point is to understand everything better as a way of anchoring my own life to the rest of the world's, to figure out a good (insert definition here!) way to live.


Who can help you and how?

Every other PZ student, and the staff. Had a particularly good chat with Jan this week, we talked about how Lawrence Weiner works and about being a 'travelling poet' and just nailing a model for making work that allows the artist to also be a real person who can experience the world in a meaningful way while they make and show their work. I mean, why even keep going? That guy has just done it. Give up now. No, don't - just learn from him and others. I want to know more about Clara's work, because her "passing on of information" in the first week presentations is one of the best things I have seen all year. This is the kind of simplicity that I find super rich and exciting.

I would like to work with contemporary dancers, not to learn how to dance, but to gain a set of tools/exercises that lets me put movement before thought when trying to compose something. Some of Portnoy's writing and movement tools were super helpful. I will arrange studio visits with Egle Budvetyte and Adva Zakai in Brussels, as they use choreography in their art and vice versa. Plenty of others too.


Relation to previous practice

Previous works have been concerned with calendars and systems of time, and other units of measurement. Because I am constantly trying to work out how my experience matches up with other peoples', how to locate myself in the world. Am I doing it right? How are they doing it? How to quantify things that are really qualities, to make up some kind of safe constants, to allay anxiety. How to get a grip on reality. My video and sound works so far have all be "decoys" for text: a way to make people pay attention to a text.

I have previously written, without any real 'training' or feedback, in different forms (including about other peoples' work, for money). I would like to be able to write fiction. I have previously made 3 performances in collaboration with Eliza Dyball, all mostly improvised within a set of instructions or guides. These were fun but unresolved, and I'd like to make something more polished, certain, take responsibility for it, be able to repeat it. All three took their cues from their venues (a scout hall, a disused ammunition factory, the Rustavi propaganda boards), so were site-responsive in a good way, but I felt were under-developed.


Relation to a larger context


References