Saturday, April 02, 2005

PSi #11 – Day 2 & 3

I am still trying to figure out my orientation to this conference. Every person I meet, every panel and performance I attend is tweaking me a bit. This is a remarkable place in that the people are generally so friendly and open as well as so tuned to the world as performance.

I realize that I walk around with the assumption that when I perform that a good deal of my audience lacks the same background or even interest in performance to consider performance work without a good deal of seduction, entertainment or explaining if you do not want to isolate the audience. Not so here. It seems like even the most minimalist gestures can fly because they are actually being paid attention to and the audience has a lot to bring to the events.

This evening I met a friend of Deva’s from Germany named Helge. Such a kindhearted German man and performer who seems so interested in supporting social interaction. Talking to him has started to make me aware of the European networks of performance artists and how they work, perform and supported. This is really what I am here for I think.

The academic stuff I am having mixed reactions to. I am still learning how to figure out how to pick a panel. Themes are rather meaningless 80% of the time because of organizer goofs, missing panelists, or lack of moderation to tie things together. I constantly am questioning myself. I wonder I am hearing papers that are just meaningless babble, or if they are just using theoretical languages in ways I am not tuned to.

Deva described this tendency of the academics to use and reuse “sets” of terms (like “community”, “near miss”, “resistance”, etc) and sometimes I wonder how that is useful. I am familiar with some of this stuff but there are defiantly points where I am left behind.

And today I went to a fascinating panel on thresholds, such as between an ordinary gesture and a performed one, life and death, dance and architecture. Pia Lindman gave an interesting artist talk on this performance and drawing work she has done with images of grief taken from the New York Times. Heidi Gilpin showed this fascinating CD-ROM archive of performance strategies, collected by the Frankfurt Ballet to orient new dancers, to articulate some ideas on the possibilities of motion in architecture. Barbara Formis gave the most lucid talk I have heard yet at this festival on art in theory-speak…she was looking at the relation of the performed and the ordinary. These folks were all able to make sense for the most part. Why is that so rare here? Is it just cause their media all worked when it was supposed to?

I am generalizing too much but usually I enjoy just one paper in the sets of panelist and finding little of the post talk discussions interesting. The moderator of the thresholds panel made a wise choice I think in declaring that all of the presentations would be quite different and took a couple questions for the presenter after each one went rather than having a general q&a at the end.

I am seeing some interesting little performances as well, which I will write more about soon. They are often a relief to too much theory.



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