Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Floor Becomes Archaeology - Collaboration

Leverhulme funding for the residency finishes at the end of this month. I hope to continue as CRFR associate artist and that some of the possible collaborations with researchers materialise.

However, from February I will be involved in something completely different - a collaboration with impresario theatre performer and director, Andy Manley, to create a show for toddlers called Archaeology. It's not impossible that I will be appearing on the London stage at the end of March. At Polka Children's Theatre. This is the final stop on a tour which will start at North Edinburgh Arts Centre, then move on to the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.

As a visual artist and theatre artist, we've been funded to experiment with collaborative ways of working. One of the things the collaboration has thrown up is how different these artforms are in their modes of production and outcomes. We have had a bit of 'pushing through' to do. (Sixties American Artist Robert Morris says that pushing through is one of the things art is).

Theatre is a group effort, under the leadership of the director. Structure and schedules are part of a process which is orientated towards the goal of the performance. Visual art, along with music and lighting design are usually in the service of theatre providing 'the stage' for the performance.  Ultimately it's all about the performance.  Then the reception of the performance is a collective experience too.  

Visual Art tends to be a more solitary experience, both in  production and reception.  Because of that there is a lot less  'marshalling' - it tends to be a more introverted personal experience. (Curator and thinker, Charles Esche once said that multi art centres were a bad idea for visual art - that after a few years 'the art' was invariably relegated to the cafe walls!)

So this is the territory we have been pushing through.  Our aim is to create a space of performance and explorative play.  What have we done when we got stuck? We talked about the difficulties. We worked separately, but in parallel for a bit.  We consulted with others.  We have used one another's methodology - e.g.  I made a model of the structure, as a set designer would do. So now we have pushed through to a point where we have a space  and the bones of a performance which have potential to develop.  

A lesson - collaboration doesn't always feel like the total being greater than the sum of the parts.  However it's beginning to feel that we are pushing throughrom 2D to 3D both in our idea for the piece and in our process.