Interview game proposed by Professor Josephine Wikström at the Uniarts Stockholm, April 2017
What material conditions do you need in order to sustain your art practice?
The question of sustainability has attracted me a lot since I started the NPP program at DOCH. Coming from a background as a dancer and performer, a big part of the material conditions for practicing has often been provided by someone else, such as the project organizer, the theatre or the dance institution. The practice was expressed and became visible, tangible, recognizable and accepted socially through the “time-space” condition of the dance studio and occasionally the stage To a certain extent my prior practice became identifiable through this time-space, where I could express it, make it concrete and material.
When I began the NPP program and decided to avoid the space-time of the dance studio (at least for a period) I faced a problem of proximity since I couldn’t observe my practice in the same way I was used to: through my relation to the dance studio, through the conversation with a choreographer, the mirror or the video recording of the rehearsals. I also faced a problem in identifying my practice since there was no specific space-time through which I could frame and recognize its expression.
Both the problem of proximity and the one of identification have created fantastic opportunities for me to discover the needs I have in order to keep on developing my practice. It has been a journey in which I discovered the importance of creating a space within myself, a space-time for my inner conversation, a private and intimate conversation, but which in some way is very similar to the one created (sometimes) between a dancer and a choreographer, between a mother and a child or between a therapist and a patient.
To return to the initial question, the material conditions I need to sustain my practice are the ones that allow my inner-space to exist. This is most of all a specific quality of time, a time in which I can drift, follow my imagination, having a scattered attention and where I can free myself from a certain mode of efficiency, still with specific objectives but not goal-oriented. It is a time that is not chaotic but which allows space for uncertainty and doubt.
To feel comfortable is another important condition for this inner-space: a way to resume a need to feel protected, to be cared for, loved, as well as to perceive a certain awareness in they way I act, react and breath. A big part of my practice in these last two years has been an exploration and a process of understanding myself. One of my great realisations has been that, in order to learn about myself and to learn in general, I need to feel comfortable. Discomfort in learning is not a sustainable condition for keeping interest, passion and commitment in the practice.
Do you have children, parents or other family members who need your care? How does this caring work in your practice?
My practice underwent a considerable transformation as I became a father only one year before I began the NPP program I have always been very close to my family, which is an important part of my life and for whom I care. But to become the caretaker of a child implies a broad process of reflection since more responsibility is at stake.
There has been an entanglement in this process between the “normal” existential questions I faced as a father and the questions that relate to the role my practice occupies in my existence. At the beginning of my journey in the NPP program, I was in the middle of this process where the questions that relate to my personal life and the questions that relate to my art practice overlapped almost completely. Reflecting upon it now, the biggest challenge has been, and still is, to be able to create the conditions for observing the process in which I am: to begin to truly listen to myself in order to create my inner-space. It has been a process of listening more than observing since to listen for me has a softer quality, the tenderness necessary for a sensitive process of taking care of myself.
To care for myself in my eyes is, both a process of self-discovery as well as a precondition for the act of caring. To care about myself is a way to take distance from my needs in order to know what my needs are: to find the Other in me. The Othering process that appears within the inner-space is an ethical commitment. The acknowledgment of the existence of the Other that is inside and all around myself.
For this process I mostly need to thank my son, Elio. Through my relation with him I learned the importance of recognising Otherness inside myself: to encounter and listen to this Otherness. The ethical questions that arise from the idea of caring are probably the structure upon which performing arts should develop from now on.