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17 - 28/06/2016

photo: M. Januszaniec
Galleryphoto: M. Januszaniec

Are we as a society tired of watching?

I’m not tired of watching, but I am tired of this constant feeling of not being able to respond to it in the right way. I’m tired of watching actions that are so far away from me and so distant. I constantly question whether I see it well. How is it presented to me and what should I do with the information? So I do try not to watch everything, and I think this is a big challenge to all of us – to decide where to take responsibility. What can I relate to, and what for me is just too much? On one hand we think we need to know what is happening in Syria, we need to know where our computers come from, yet at the same time there is this feeling of not being able to deal with all that information. Things come to you, you don’t always chose them.

What does it mean to be ‘amongst others’?

I have the increasing feeling that talking about myself as an individual is like I’m somehow a closed entity. And I don’t perceive myself as such. When I am with my sister I am a different person than when I am with my mother, or my daughter, or my lover. So in that sense those other things and people start to awaken me, start to show other roles, their potential. It can be in your thoughts, in the words you speak, in the way you behave physically. It doesn’t feel at all like hiding. It feels like as something else comes out, and if somebody is very sure of what he was, what he wants to do, I can become a follower, but I can also become the one who is in a way embattled with this present, because I am also sure, and it can provoke a different things in me. So it also very subtle, I don’t regulate it, it isn’t up to me. And it’s even with thoughts. Also with political thoughts. So it’s about relations. The group is not the sum of the individuals, containers, individuals containing their own image. It is a group of some possible relations between these people. The roles are shifting all the time. That is what I mean by ‘being amongst others’. Arnold Mindell claims that there are roles and there are people, and we shouldn’t fix the roles on the person and the person on the role. And the role is always bigger than a person and that the person is always bigger then the role. I’m not only an artist, I’m also a daughter, friend, a mother, a stubborn child, an angry woman. I like the theory of course, because it is also connected very much with theatre. What is the role we play and how do we play with roles? Is it your experience that you experience? The roles are shifting constantly and changing as if people were dressing and undressing non stop.

To me then you define the aesthetical signature of your theatre more through relations with others than with visual strategies.

In theatre I’m very quickly trapped within the role of the director. That in a way implies the aesthetic and the way it is delivered. I move more in between, I’m applying being ‘amongst others’. I’m very personal there. My aesthetic has to do with the work, process, common tasks. It’s a movement towards a constant reduction in things. In Wasteland we took out everything. The aesthetical choice is to take distance, to edit the image and make a reduction, to take things out. The aesthetics of Building Conversation is also actually about that, in order to make a place where people can just be, where there is nothing to hide, to be distracted with. So it’s very bare in that sense, a place to be fulfilled with what comes. I don’t know yet, so I don’t know what kind of shoes, sweaters, haircuts, how people will smell, how they will sound.

Is it possible to approach ‘others’, to feel their position, to get close to their experience?

I went to Kinchasa ten years ago with that very question: can I watch through the eyes of the other? And I came back with this very definite answer: no, I can not. Being there I really experienced that the way I am with my body in the world is so different from the way people I met there were with their bodies, the way they were connected with each other, they were a part of the collective. I was like a total individual there. Very separated. I really realised that the way we perceive things is so connected to our background and history, and culture – the way we touch, the way we are touched, have been touched, the way we smell, see, talk, the sound of our voice. Everything matters. And puts you in the world in a different way, and puts you in a place with things, objects, people in a different way.

So I came back with this message of impossibility, a strong conviction that we are very different and it is pretty impossible or very impossible to see through the eyes of another, or to imagine your self through the body of another person. But at the same time we do have to keep trying to understand others. This is also a very paradoxical situation. Everything that I say now doesn’t only come from me and my being there, in Congo, but also comes from me and my relationship with you, to my lover or to my own daughter. In a way we can’t step away from our own experience, our own way of perceiving. Yet at the same time, everything we see in somebody else or we recognize in somebody else, we see because we know it. What is in another is also in me.

A fragment of the interview which was published in Didaskalia 2016 / 133 (June).