Sonntag, 6. März 2011

Interview with Tim Etchells

Tim Etchells works are quite influential. He is an artistic director, author and performer and has taught, written and published on contemporary performance and art with a huge impact on the development of a uniquely British avant-garde performance style.

Theater is a space of illusion. I would like to offer some notions of space and hear your associations. Let´s start with “Ludic Space”…

Tim Etchells: “Ludic Space” is a space for play – this is theatre in a way. That’s one of the things we think about in relation to the space of the stage, where one makes the performance. A space in which you establish permission to behave as if things where otherwise, to construct new ways of behaving. There is a liberation in that and there is an “as if” in that, which I think comes from this gaming, reality-twisting or reality-bending impulse. It is a deep human desire to twist or play with the reality we are in.

“Loose Space”

I can think of that in terms of theatre again, it terms of this sort of malleability of place and time in theatre and performance. How people use space is what defines it. Spaces with a purpose or with a particular frame. It is the daily use of them, which is often playful, inventive and drifting. Streets and locations in a city can often have multiple meanings or uses, frames of use that operate in different communities: It is one thing by day and another by night, or at the same there will be oversecting and intersecting, overlapping uses. This sense of non-definite and slightly shifting spaces in cities is really important.

“Appropriated Space”

“Appropriated Space” is much more about saying “we can take the space and turn it and do something with it that wasn´t its original intention and grab a hold of it and transform it in the way that we grabbed a hold of it.” It is a more premeditated, assertive grabbing of a space.

“Collage Space”

It is related to “Loose Space” and “Appropriated Space”. Appropriated to me seems much more related to power in the sense that appropriation has built into it the idea that there is an original and intended usage of something - and then appropriation is to take that and turn it. Loose and collage to me implies something less hierarchical, more like multiple non-orthodox possibilities. Appropriation would always be in relation to orthodoxy: There’s an orthodoxy and then you turn it. Whereas collage may be the items that you are putting together, that are co-existing… there’s not necessarily an original hierarchy, it’s more about mixing between one thing and another.

Is theater a kind of “Subversive Space”?

Theatre is very codified, very delineated, very structured as a space. There are many ways to configurate the space in theater, but the fundamental one is the Proscenium theatre. It’s very hierarchical, very clear, fucking old and conventionalised and incredibly restricted. But this set of restrictions allows a certain set of subversions, questions and re-drawings of reality to happen. You can´t have this subversive space there without the frameworks that allow it. We really like to work inside this quite old and regemented framework, because it allows us to reach to some subversive, playful things. I would always think of play or freedom or subversion in relation to a system and restriction. There is no space of absolute play or absolute freedom. Play only exists in terms of expectation, codification and structure. Language is a limit, physical space is a limit, biology is a limit. All of those things are structures that allow you to find freedom because they are limited.

What do you think about the term “Performative Society”?

It’s clear, that the reality is not what it used to be and that increasingly politics and performance are – maybe they always were, but now they are hugely - intertwined in a certain way. The digital sphere, the strange performativity of online presence in life, has changed the way people present themselves. We are more and more in a sort of lapping zone between a material reality that we inhabit and then a set of stories, fictions and images that we all summon, create and speak through. These things are very deep and very complex and it is hard to get to the bottom of that pile. It is funny because in the 80ies one would really only be talking about film and TV as the kind of spaces where this media myth and the hold on cultural imagination was. Now, since the internet really happened, that has shifted a lot. There is this sort of two-way, group-authored thing happening nowadays, which has a different dynamic. There is some space of action and agency in that, but also a trap that we don´t understand yet. And at the same time I don´t like the rhetoric of democratization in association with the internet, I don´t think this has any relationship to democracy at all. What passes for collaborative authorship and participation in this space is usually quite miserable and limiting. We have yet to see how that works, and I am fairly sceptical. You get information – arguably – but the question is: What can you do with this information, with this data? For sure, people are using that information to group around on the internet and that is great. But how successful are we in actually dealing with that in reality? Because to really stand on a platform where you would concretely do something about it, across the society, across the culture – to form a movement that doesn’t stay within a Facebook Group – it is a rare thing to happen. It is this very bizarre situation: All the facts are there, but organizing the “social will” to do something with that is the tricky thing.

read more: