NIKIMA JAGUDAJEV / ASAD RAZA
October 3, 2018
Alison Karasyk: Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about and that’s come up for me in researching both your individual practices and Holobio is the clear significance of collaboration. And I’m thinking about collaboration in a very extended sense -- the act of working together, the act of being together, and the act of inviting strangers or viewers into an intra-acting system formed through your work. So in addition to Holobio, a performance in which you collaborated with each other, Ezra, Karen, Kathrin, Margaret, Beatrix, and Amalia, among others, you collaborated with all who were present. The evening kind of fed off of these people as well.
Nikima, in your recent article in Movement Research Performance Journal, you wrote about Anna Tsing, who explores an assemblage as a way of coming together in an open-ended gathering that remakes us as well as others.
Asad, it’s hard for me to think of an artwork that you’ve made that doesn’t involve a kind of exchange. Whether it’s through an interaction among people and plants or among tennis coaches and viewers-turned-players, there’s this key fixture of what both of you do and seem to be thinking about. I’m wondering if you can speak a bit about this gesture in your work, how you began working together, and what this term intra-acting, not to be confused with interacting, means.
Nikima Jagudajev: Well, it makes me think about another book, a book I just recently started, by Andreas Weber. I was going to say it in a German accent. Anyways, he talks about relationship. I guess, now you’re asking about connection and collaboration, and I think it’s related. That everything, the whole world, is just these intra-acting relationships. I feel like the most important thing that we consider right now is how we are with each other. Or how we are in relation.
It’s not only about how Asad and I are with each other, but also how we are with inanimate objects, and the rest of the world. Something I was recently looking at was ecosexuality. It’s a term coined by Annie Sprinkles. She actually had this whole process of trying to get it on the LGBTQ list, she wanted to add the “E” in there, as a form of sexuality.
She thinks of it very politically, that it’s a way to interact with our environment. And that the earth is not like our mother, but like a sexual partner. And this idea that if you’re kind of rude to your mom or something, then your mom would put up with it. But if you’re rude to your partner, they wouldn’t. Or disrespectful - i mean the way that we often engage with the earth - taking that a step further, thinking about how we relate to the environment and thinking about it as relational, that also allows us to consider how we relate with one another, with other people as part of the environment. And there’s a certain kind of sensitivity, basically an engagement with the senses. “Relation” really talks about touch and contact and permeability and communication. Let’s recognize how we are with one another and create spaces where people can slow down a little bit, in the sense of clarity, and reconnect to the senses.
Specifically in this piece, we were talking a lot about—and I think this is something that I’ve more concretely taken on from Asad, but it’s really thinking about nature within the work. Like nature, whatever. But trees, animals, and all this kind of stuff within the work. For this particular piece, we were talking about the light, you know, we’re starting at five and going until sundown. We were talking about how you really become, you really perceive the light.
You really perceive the light going down, and the different relations that come up from this, from the shadows and the different times of day. And then also at a certain point, when it’s a certain kind of dusky darkness then the crickets start chirping. And just allowing for space where these kinds of things can become—not that they weren’t there before, but that they can be perceived, that we can recognize our relation. Those kinds of sensibilities and sensitivities are also in relation to one another.
Asad Raza: Do you want to say something about intra-acting?
NJ: Yeah. So basically, there’s interacting and intra-acting. Intra-acting comes from Karen Barad. It’s a term where she talks about intra as from within. It’s a concept where one is considering relation from within an already connected ecosystem. So rather than interacting, an idea of two or more separate entities that then come together and interact or have some kind of relationship, intra-acting is from a place that you’re already connected to.
AR: I also think about that in terms of the contrast between trying to think relationally and trying to think about mutual causality, and kind of an older way of thinking which is much more mechanistic and much more like billiard ball. One billiard ball flies into the other billiard ball, and now it transfers force to it. Like, yes, if you reduce the world to a billiard table with only two balls, and only one person hitting one ball at one time, that is sufficient to model what’s going on.
But in a more rich understanding of the world, you come up with much more. It’s much more difficult to easily map these kind of causalities and flows, because there are many different agents and many different vectors of energies that are combining and affecting each other. An example would be maybe also the three-ball problem. I don't know if you know about the three-ball problem in physics, which is basically, if you’re trying to figure out how gravity works on different entities, the most simple way, of course, is to think of there’s the sun and there’s a planet, and the sun exerts gravity on the planet. But that’s actually not accurate. The planet also exerts gravity on the sun. It’s just much less. And so then you have to add the idea of both things acting on each other. And that’s still theoretically predictable. But when you add a third body to this, let’s say the planet has a moon, or there’s a second planet, and now that planet is acting on the sun, the sun’s acting on the Earth, the Earth is acting on that, and all the reverse. It actually becomes impossible to model what exactly is going to happen in that situation.
A lot of the ways that people consider art to be produced as belonging to that mechanistic idea of the world in which you have a single person, they create something with meaning, and put it into the world, we receive the meaning, and now the circuit is completed.
NJ: A cause and effect situation.
AR: Yeah, it’s a very simplistic causality. And actually, the history of art is so much about much more than that, everything is actually springing out of social contexts, and multiple contexts, of not just humans, but humans, animals, other living beings, objects, and conditions.
And then later, we do this intense act of reduction into, I’m going to write the biography of this one person, isolate them from that whole context and pretend that what they were doing somehow stems from their essence or something. To me that’s similar to how we’ve also constructed all of these spaces like this gallery, which in a way are intended to hold off all the complexities of the fact that out there, the light’s constantly changing. The temperature’s constantly changing. The air is moving.
And in here, that’s happening too, but we’re kind of trying to keep that from affecting what we’re doing. This is a whole construction of modernity, in order to produce a kind of neutrality or objectivity that allows us to make certain kinds of assertions. And then we believe in those assertions, and our culture has meaning and rationality. And it’s okay, but it’s just very reductive. And I think something that I’m interested in, and I think Nikima’s interested in, and why we became very close collaborators and friends after we started talking, is making work that won’t let you do that, because it’s so clearly already taking part in this, let’s say, dance of causalities, and multiplicity of agents.
NJ: Yeah. Just like a space or conditions or certain structures, there is a certain structure to it, definitely. Conditions that are laid. But there’s a lot of space, where the structure itself proposes this randomness, or not randomness, but things that can’t be controlled by the artist. It’s a space that’s open to the intra-acting ecosystem. And then what comes out of that is unknown. That allows for these singular events to happen, something that we could not have thought of, or foreseen, or predicted.
AK: How does your process unfold in terms of planning for something like Holobio? What’s the process leading up to that event?
AR: Well, I would say that instead of setting some stuff into fixed place so that it will be the way that you want it to be perceived, because this is not just about perception but about intra-action, it’s more about setting up conditions. And in that sense I would compare it to building a fire. Where you are putting twigs and branches in places in order that a certain cascade or metabolic process can happen.
NJ: It’s really an open-ended thing. And it’s required for us, and other people involved to really keep that mindset. I feel like it requires that. As soon as it becomes too fixed on one idea, then there’s too much friction and it doesn’t work. It requires, at least in my experience, I need to let it in. I need to make space to let the things come in and to be okay with the precarity of it and the uncertainties and the indeterminacy.
I think also that the elements, it’s very important that the elements that we bring together, like the sticks for the fire, are heterogeneous. if it becomes too much one thing, or too much the same, then it loses that ability for the thing that we’re constructing or that we’re structuring, it loses its ability to have a life of its own. This thing that we’re talking about now, of making space and keeping an open-ended mentality, that’s something that I would like to relay in the work. I would like that to be part of the work as well. So that it doesn’t become my thing, a fixed proposal.
AR: I always feel that if you can reduce something to something more simple, then that’s fine, but you could just do that. You can write a paragraph or whatever.
NJ: I also wanted to say that it’s important for me to practice what I preach. I want to practice my belief system. I think the collaboration, these sort of collaborative efforts, whether it’s with another human, but also with other things, that that is a way. A way of really trying to get rid of other ingrained practices that come from expectations of how to be a choreographer or how to make a dance, how to be a dancer, how to be an artist, whatever it is. The art pieces, as a practice can also teach me in a way. How I want to be, ideologically.
AK: In Holobio, you inhabited the Crush residency house, the barn, the surrounding terrain, and it felt both as though the physical architecture of these spaces and the ecological specificity was influential to what unfolded that evening. I’m interested in hearing you speak a little bit more about the need for occupying alternative sites with exhibitions. And the other thing that comes up, to that end, is how architecture and the elements have the ability to both affect and disorient, or reorient, the viewer or the participant, and the artist.
AR: Well, “reorient” implies that there is a piece, and then the architecture reorients it. Whereas, it’s often more like, there’s nothing, or there’s a general impulse maybe, but until there’s an architecture, I don’t really even completely get going, you know? Or let’s say that those things come together in a dialectical way. Making a piece and doing it for a particular site, or something.
When Karen and Molly asked me to come to take a look at the site in Amagansett, that triggered the beginnings of thinking about what could be done, not just at the site considered as architecture in a restricted sense. It’s the site socially, it’s the site cartographically, it’s the site geologically, it’s the site atmospherically, it’s the site in terms of its sociological meaning and anthropological meaning.
NJ: a term that I like to play with a little bit is post-audience. Because I feel like, coming from dance, people know how to be audience members. People really know how to come into the theater, how to sit down, how to watch. There are varying degrees to that, of course. But when people know how to fulfill their role, that doesn’t allow for new things to come up and for things to be born.
So with spaces that are kind of unknown or have less of a lineage or less of a history of how to be with, how to be in, or whatever, then people come with less expectation, less knowledge of how to be. And then the piece as a whole, which involves the architecture and the space that it’s in, can kind of guide that experience and it leaves a lot open to the person entering into that space. So they can enter without this knowledge of how to be, and then they can be how they are, basically.
Karen Hesse Flatow: Which definitely happened. There were some people who acted one way, and others another way.
NJ: Exactly, which I think is so important.
AK: At first I was very much a viewer – observing and standing against the wall, and then noticing Molly sitting on the couch, I was like, okay, I can do that too. I can get closer and hear the words. And then we slow danced, Nikima, and I was like, okay, now I feel as though I’m fully part of it. I experienced distinct levels of temporality and transformation due to different encounters that I moved through.
NJ: Yeah, totally. And I think that’s super important about the work, too, that, it’s like you said, you saw Molly on the couch, so you felt, oh, I can do that too. I think it’s a lot about that too, just offerings, a thing you could do, a possibility. You don’t have to, but it could be a way. And then to see how that’s engaged with.
AK: Again the idea of repositioning or disorientation comes up – thinking about the barn entryway being transformed into a kind of echo-labyrinth and then being outside, asked to remove my clothes, and being offered a robe. I think I’m realizing how these actions functioned as invitations, and how much of Holobio intertwined intimacy and nostalgia with a sense of presence.
KHF: I think there was an element of that feeling with the music.
NJ: For sure. There’s so much that just happens. My experience was really like a sentimentality, but also, a kind of a haunting thing going on. But what I was drawn to was that you said intimacy. I think that intimacy is key. I feel like it’s something that dance and performative work can offer. And also nature, like wilderness, can offer. And I think it’s something that people really lack an understanding of. There’s this expected way of being intimate with another person. And that’s behind closed doors. How can we be intimate with one another in a space that isn’t a secret? I really think that dance, as a practice, can offer that. And often doesn’t, but it can.
AR: For me, there’s something connected to trying to produce intimacy in the works, which is simplicity. There’s a certain kind of thinking about art, dance, whatever. Culture. As sophisticated, or about judgment, exercising a sophisticated form of judgment that is also about kind of proving your intellectual abilities in relationship to other people in your circle or something, that you have a very smart take on something. That kind of activity takes place in a very restricted part of a human being in the cerebral cortex. But there’s all these other types of experience that don’t necessarily happen there.
On some level, a lot of activities from the cerebral cortex perspective seem very simple, are so effective, that you can get people out of what this ratiocination game. The ruminating, thinking mind game, the rational engine game. And so something like the light slowly changing, I mean, that seems ludicrously simple from one point of view. But it’s very important to me as a way of kind of getting in tune with what’s actually going on every day. Because actually, every single metabolic process that’s happening around us and all of the other living beings around is being powered by this thing that happens every day: that the earth is exposed to this sunlight. That has a weight. That sunlight has a weight. Intimacy also relates to finding other ways to experience your own body, your own personhood. And trying to find ways to get people into that state. So much of what happens around us, to me, looks hopelessly trapped in thinking. And I feel that one of the problems with that kind of thinking is it disenchants. It empties out and disenchants experience. It’s good to be able to look at stuff and be critical, for a minute. But if you remain in that state all the time, you end up in a disenchanted state of perceiving without feeling. That’s not what is called for, somehow, at this time.
NJ: No. No. Not at all.
AR: And I think that trying to re-enchant--because the world can be super interesting and rich in all kinds of different ways that are, let’s say, not only the very narrow socially prescribed routes to having a good time, or something--is connected to being able to find intimacy in the world as it is, rather than requiring six kegs of beer or something so that you can have your emotions.
KHF: I was interested when you said “in this time,” because I feel that there’s so many factors right now about our time and our history, not only political but also technological, that feels so important for this work. Do you think about that at all, in terms of the time that we live in and how this work feels?
NJ: It seems essential. How can you not?
AR: I think about it a lot but don’t refer to it in the work, because I don’t think that’s helpful. It’s not helping construct something.
NJ: I think that it’s a very fine line. It’s difficult because what’s being proposed, or what I think we’re trying to propose here, is an allowance for an experience. An allowance for a sensorial, personal, yet relational experience. Which actually we have all the time, but we’re just not receptive to it, a lot of the times. As soon as we start to try to dictate how that’s done, it’s lost. It’s a really fine line between a proposal and a set of rules. It’s like, how can we re-access this thing that’s so essential to us, without being told how to do it?
KHF: I’m always thinking about people who spend, besides the political situation, people who spend their time not in reality, whether through their job on computers, or through non-reality situations.
NJ: I definitely want to avoid—I don't know. I definitely don’t feel like it’s a confrontation against technology or something. It doesn’t feel like that for me. I definitely think… what’s it called?
AK: Google glasses.
NJ: Yeah, I mean, when you can see—VR. I think that VR can also propose sensorial experiences, you know? I wouldn’t rule that out. I think that a planetarium can have a very similar effect to what we’re trying to propose here with our work. There’s definitely a specificity.
AR: We’re surrounded by a very specific relationship to technology, I think, that is quite repetitive. At any given moment, it’s proposing that there’s problems in the world, and there’s a technological innovation happening right now that’s going to help us solve those problems. And then you hang around for another 10 years, and it turns out that the story that you’re hearing is that there’s problems going on right now, and guess what, there’s this new technological innovation that’s about to come out, that’s going to help us solve those problems. Isn’t that great? And you hang out for another 10 years, and you find out, oh, guess what?
It’s much less about hostility to any particular technology or medium or item, as it is a resistance to the relationship to it that claims that that’s where the emancipation lies. Emancipation might just be a cheesy term in this context. But to be free from the necessity to have to need a particular technology, but also free from the necessity of rejecting it, is more a state of greater freedom.
And if art means anything, it means also a certain autonomy in relation to what is proposed by the culture. A certain autonomy to feel enabled to explore other possible proposals or make other possible proposals. That’s the worthwhile aspect of this tradition that came from the last three centuries that’s become something called art. I think. More than it is about painting or dance, you know, it’s about finding or valorizing or valuing a certain level of autonomy from the proposals coming from your culture.
AK: It’s of course different when you’re in an institutional setting, versus a kind of alternative space where there’s access to nature or the environment or the light, but do you feel like when you’re in a more institutional, don’t-touch-the-art kind of setting, does that radically affect how you work? Or do you feel like it just sets up an interesting new set of conditions?
AR: There’s more stuff to battle against, is one issue.
NJ: Yeah. Having food, that’s just one, to have food in a museum.
AR: Exactly. There’s absurdities that happen a lot, and it’s a disease that’s particularly bad here, in New York City, in the United States of America. This bureaucratic fixation on the way things have to happen.
AR: Yeah. It’s really unfortunate. And I think more and more people are being squeezed into a narrower and narrower range of possible activities, and a narrower and narrower range of physical locations, even, by that culture. And that’s a very serious problem. That’s such a serious problem that it needs to be addressed probably at all levels, in all possible ways.
But in a small way, you can address that problem inside of the art institution by just starting to try to do other things. And I think feeding people in a museum, it should be so uncomplicated. It’s really bizarre that it’s 2018 and the most difficult thing to do is to fry an egg in a museum. It’s impossible. The level of faith in the efficacy of these bureaucratic restrictions is...
NJ: It makes a lot of artists question, why the hell am I doing this? Why am I trying to battle the art institution when I could organize a social space, or I don't know, like a restaurant, where it is an immersive experience but you get to kind of make the rules.
KHF: That also frees you, freedom from the market.
AK: Yeah, going off of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that the space was kind of emptied out or very bare other than human beings, and that every other sensation besides the visual was really what took hold, so the burning of the sage, the sound of the piano, the sound of your voice, this sense of touch, among the choreographed dancers, or just brushing past someone, or slow dancing with them, or leaning against the ground, or leaning against the couch, or being seated in the water. And taste, walking in and getting the hot sauce, and also just the touch of navigating the trees, or having someone help you do that.
And so to me, those kinds of processes that move away from visual prioritization make me think about ritual I guess. And I’m curious if that’s if this sense of ritual is important for thinking about processes of movement, processes of storytelling and telling new narratives..
NJ: I steer pretty clear of ritual, because I think it’s too loaded of a term. But also going off what you were just saying, I think ritual in a more anthropological term, it really involves everybody. It’s really about, everybody knowing what they’re doing. Everybody is involved. A shared process that everyone there knows. In a situation like Holobio, it’s just not that.
AK: No. It’s kind of the opposite, right? The unpredictability is part of what’s so powerful, I think.
NJ: Totally. Yeah, exactly. We’re still structuring something that only the insiders know. I think it would be too big of a claim. But the rejection of claiming ritual also comes from my having studied anthropology in school, and having read so many renditions of rituals in completely different cultures, and then hearing this kind of discourse about the ritual in the art world, and just feeling like, ugh. Disgusted a bit by it.
But in the same way that dancing can become a kind of meditation, it can also be ritualistic for me. Or ritualistic for you, or whoever. But for me, it’s not about creating a ritual, nor is it about meditating.
AK: It’s interesting that you bring up meditation, because that was kind of on the tip of my mind in your last response. So does that practice, that meditation practice, do you feel like that informs the way that you work?
NJ: Personally, it’s very important, like you were talking about earlier, this kind of constantly being in the head, and overthinking everything. A way out of that is through dancing. I mean, also through just working out or something. I started to do kung fu which is very much about cultivating inner energy and being relationally integrated with the universe. So for me, yeah, definitely. It’s also a retreat.
AR: That’s a good example, though, because I also like to think that you can find these kind of experiences that we’ve been talking about outside the place where you’re supposed to have them. I’m not a Buddhist. But I’m very interested in the mind state that’s described by Zen Buddhism, when meditation is happening. I even did a whole show of Zen paintings once in order to learn more about that. But I then made that piece that you mentioned before in Milan, with this tennis game, because I noticed that during the warm-up to a tennis match, before you start competing, before you start the actual competition part, there’s a meditation that happens between the two about-to-be opponents, when they have to hit with each other so that they get warmed up. And I found that that was a very beautiful moment. Because the very first time I attended a pro tennis match, and I saw them doing that, I was like, oh my god. You never see this on TV. You just see when they’re trying to win. And actually, these two people had to help each other get a little bit better. That belongs in a church somehow, to me.
That’s a meditative moment in which you’re not getting told something by a big authority from up there, but you and another are in a mutual meditative process. And so that’s what I was trying to do by using that in that setting. But I wasn’t taking it out, I found it somewhere else that’s closer to me, as a kid who grew up in Buffalo and played tennis, rather than in a kind of practice of Zen Buddhism. So I’m very interested in, let’s say, letting go of these roots of things a little bit, that they have to be located in their original. I feel that we live in a time when we don’t profit from restricting things to their root systems. We have to transplant them and move them and change them and reorient them or put them in a different light.
NJ: It’s again a sticky situation, because I think I really agree with you, but there’s this whole conversation about appropriation. It’s so common that people take these impersonal references and try to own them, rather than I think what you’re saying, which is more of a learning from ideologies and ideas and concepts, and then reformulating them in relation to things that are closer to home.
AR: One of the things that, when we started by talking about relation between things, one of the people who I’m interested in who wrote a lot about relation, in fact wrote two books, one called Poetics of Relation, and the other called Philosophy of Relation, is Edouard Glissant. One of the things that Glissant writes a lot about also is this idea of opacity, that the subject is opaque to him- or herself.
Glissant says opacity is not a bad thing, or something to be discovered or diagnosed or figured out, but that’s actually the thing that links different people. And so it’s really out of that that I think you can create experiences that can connect to people, and they don’t have to know why. Or they don’t have to know what kind of person am I in order that—like the way that for instance in a traditional ritual or religious context, one person of one religion is supposed to do those practices and another from a different religion is not, they’re supposed to do these practices. That, to me, seems totally crazy and kind of stupid. And I’m interested in creating more opaque experiences that don’t propose you have to be of a certain kind in order to take part.
AK: It seems also just thinking about what you were saying about the tennis match and the part that we all get to see and watch and what we associate with tennis is that moment of competition, but what about the kind of transitional fabric around that moment? That’s so much more interesting in some way. And the exchanges in those circumstances.
NJ: Yeah, and also what one is supposed to experience is not given to you, right? That’s also open for individuals to figure out.
AR: There I would also bring up the music that we had in Holobio. Because over the summer, we were on like two tracks on the one hand, we were reading like Rachel Carson and Lynn Margulis, whose concept of the holobiont is the origin of the name of the piece. Which is her idea of, not to think about, let’s say natural history in terms of the various species, the animal or the plant or whatever. But by assemblages of different species that together have a symbiosis that allows for some kind of ecosystem to develop. And that’s what she calls a holobiont.
On the other side, we were also going through stuff, and I think one night we were playing music, and we played this song, Torn, by Natalie Imbruglia, which was an interesting thing because it comes from the ‘90s. It’s very much on some level a piece of cultural flotsam or something. It’s not necessarily a great canonical, you know what I’m saying? It’s not something that’s been widely celebrated. But it somehow has a feeling in it. And I think many people have connected to it. And I like to use materials that are around, that were just maybe not noticed. I would actually compare it to the warm-up in tennis. Here’s this thing that a lot of people know and have connected to. And so if we use that, we’re tapping into this, but we’re using something that maybe wasn’t used in this way before.
NJ: And it invites people in, too. Again, it’s a proposal for the people entering into the space, to have some kind of access going in.
AK: Totally. Both being familiar with it, being drawn in, because I remember who sang it at the talent show, and I remember singing to it in the car, and my heart dropping. But at the same time, I think what was so powerful was the fact that it was even sadder. It was even more emotional in that moment, than it has been before. I fell into a trance from it. And of course that relates to how it was being played, but it’s also just this relationship to something that’s kind of banal or everyday, and you don’t slow down to think about it. But then once it resurfaced in that context, it just was like, not what I was used to at all.
AR: That’s also related, if I can say that, quickly, to a general thing that I would say Nikima and I share in our own work, and that makes it more interesting to collaborate, which is an interest in emotion and affect and sentiment. Not only, let’s say, there’s a version of contemporary art and contemporary dance that’s very structural. And almost dry. You know what I mean? And it’s kind of against the rules to bring in some really emotional stuff. What are you going to do with that? You can’t like Sol LeWitt and Natalie Imbruglia, or something. But I think actually there’s something interesting about trying to compose with those things.
NJ: Except that I do.
AR: Yeah, me too! Me too. And I think Sol LeWitt might agree with that too. He used to say his sculptures were jungle gyms for his cats. But you know what I’m saying, there’s a feeling in the air, that maybe you don’t play with emotion like that. And yet, in my opinion, that art world that created that feeling that you don’t play with emotion like that was highly masculinist. Highly non-relational, often. And it had a lot of issues.
And so actually it’s good to go onto a terrain where you don’t exclude ingredients that contain, let’s say, this affective charge. I think that’s real fun to play with, and I think Nikima could talk about it much better than me. But I think it’s something we share, you know, even if it’s hard for me to talk about. Because that was true when we first started talking about the Whitney. And I was interested in the idea of the care that these things need, these trees need. And to put that caring on show. It’s kind of a dorky idea, on some level. A little bit like, Care Bears. You know what I mean?
AR: That’s the other side of me that came up before, still talking. Wait, I’m into Care Bears now? What’s going on? But I am interested in that. Because also it seems, for me, that feels like a form of mild transgression. And I like that, you know?
NJ: Yeah, totally. Simply, also, just recognizing our needs. Recognizing, yeah. I wanted to ask you, because you had mentioned, when you brought up this thing about the ritual, you were talking about the different senses and that it was less about this visual thing. I was curious how you experienced the dancing, because of course, dancing is a visual thing, but it’s also very important for me to create—it comes from a long process that I can also talk about. But I was actually curious how you perceived the dancing or how you experienced the dancing, if less of a visual thing?
AK: It was visual, absolutely, but I felt such a sense of touch while experiencing it. I had this moment of walking in, and I was in the robe, and I was going to go back, but then I was just like, no, I’m staying here. And then I remember the feeling of watching and sliding my body down the wall, because I was like, now I’m sitting and I’m staying and time is stretched out by what I’m watching and experiencing here. It felt like a mode of slowed time for me, or easing of time. And it also evoked this feeling of infectious intimacy, just the way that everyone entered with their arms around each other’s waist or their shoulder with this sense of almost horizontal kinship, or something.
KHF: I had this weird crack happen, when you were doing the walk in the park, and there was a part when you lay down, and someone sits up. I felt like it was very orchestrated. But towards the end, I had this weird thing, I didn’t know where I was, because all of a sudden I kind of joined you. So I felt like I crossed the line between me, and I guess also a part of this dance. But it felt like this very unusual, uncanny experience, because I crossed this line from being in an audience. All of a sudden I just had to be a part of that dance.
And it felt strange, but a good strange.
AR: That’s also a very good example. It’s not that it’s not visual. Because it’s highly visual. Nikima’s choreography for both the pieces that are inside that piece are highly visual, and I think very beautiful. But they also are not so worked and so finished that you feel you can only just look at them from the pool, as if they’re in a jar. And that’s a deliberate part of the construction of them, you know? And that’s more equivalent to some--I don't know if this is a weird comparison--it’s like stonewashed jeans. Part of the construction is that they look lived-in and they feel like you can just... That’s another level of sophistication.