Auto Italia asked Jess Wiesner, my long time collaborator, and myself to have a chat about Double Dip Concession, the most recent instalment of Auto Italia Live. It is published on Dazed Digital with some photos of Jess in my last Live contribution.
AK: I contributed to Episode 2 of the last series of AUTO ITALIA LIVE and you performed in my work, but this time you’ve been approached for a more editorial role, can you explain what you’re doing?
JW: Our team consists of Kate Cooper, Marianne Forrest, Richard John-Jones, Nathan Budzinski and myself, and our job is to work with the episode as a whole. We wrote a treatment, which was sent to all the artists involved and we wrote the promo and now it is up to all of you to create content. We then structure the programme from that content.
AK: Are you a content stylist?
JW: I would call myself a content stylist. It’s true, because we are not tampering with anything, we are just pinning all the hair forward from the back (laughs). That’s how it feels. I’m really enjoying it.
AK: Do you like it because there is no emotional investment in the role?
JW: I like it because I feel like I’m doing a technical problem not an emotional problem. Which is a nice break. I think I’d enjoy a technical job like adapting novels in to screenplays.
AK: You know I’ve always wanted to make a BBC 1 Sunday night serialisation of Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Bell’?
JW: I know. Who would play the drowning nun?
AK: I would cast Vanessa Redgrave as the mother superior, slightly reprising her role from The Devils. (laughs)
JW: Oh, that’s a good way to cast, to build on the other characters they’ve played.
AK: Maybe she should be caught masturbating with a cross, in the orchard.
JW: I’m not sure Iris had that in mind. Speaking of casting devils out of nuns, you have been casting actors today for your contribution to the episode, how did it go?
AK: I loved it, turns out I’m pretty good at it… or at least I’m pretty good at acting like I’m good at it. (laughs)
JW: Do you find it difficult getting other people to deliver your ideas for you?
AK: This is the first time I have cast professional actors for my work, in the past I have used artist friends and myself, so it was interesting today to put words that I have written in to professional mouths.
JW: Do you feel you have to give up some control?
AK: Working with actors? No, I want to work with their natural abilities and if they are good then we will go with what they have to offer. I’m very excited.
JW: Have you seen anything good on TV recently?
AK: Alan Titchmarsh was talking to the wrong camera for quite a while at the Chelsea Flower Show last night. He has a lot of eye bag skin…
JW: From the side…? Apparently eyelid lifts are the second most popular cosmetic surgery in the UK.
AK: I can see why. Everyone in London has eyebags. It doesn’t matter what age they are. I saw a 12 year old boy with eyebags bigger than mine.
JW: Maybe he had a blood condition?
AK: Maybe he watches too much TV?
Continuing with the idea of egalitarian>>protean form mentioned in the Healthy Spine post below, I recently completed a new video, Holotropic EP, which you can watch here.
I am thinking of it as a Will to Metaphor, (capitals and italics for Nietzschean read existential implications). An insistence on thought as action, action as language, language as body and body as thought … and so on and so forth, forever embodied interchangeably. The word holotropic describes moving towards wholeness, again, assimilating the components that comprise self and those components in which self is manifest – body/mind/language.
The video was shot in Omaha, edited in the public libraries of Montreal and finalised in Toronto, where I was just in Keren Cytter’s I’m gonna call it challenging new play I Eat Pickles At Your Funeral, which was an ‘off-screen’ event at this year’s Images Film Festival.
March – April 2012
Yusuf Etiman, early forties, creator of legendary alternative queer Berlin space basso, currently in São Paulo, Brazil.
I lived in Berlin between 2007 and 2011, throughout that time I was fortunate to be involved both peripherally and directly with the community and activities around basso. In many ways it defined my Berlin experience, so when it closed it’s doors as a permanent space last year it seemed an era had ended. I thought to catch up with Yusuf to see where he was at now…
Hi Yusi, what are you doing in São Paulo?
Hi Andrew, oh well, a trap question this is – as it already implies that I DO something here. Actually for the first 2 months here I was rather not doing anything, just NOT being in Berlin. But as you know me, INACTIVITY is not necessarily the title of the movie I star in – so I started researching about many different things, and developing ideas for interventions in the public space here in São Paulo. On the contrary to Rio de Janeiro, where life practically happens outside, the Paulistanos as they like to call themselves are not very used to hang out in public areas. So my idea of ‘doing space’ here tends to try to move people out, appropriate and render usable the mostly well kept but nevertheless unused public areas. I have some realistic chances to realize one of my ideas, which is called PERCA TEMPO and involves a foldable and extendable architecture fixed on one of the transport carts often used here to transport things around town, like vegetables or old paper or any kind of stuff… Also I am working on on my series of ARCHISTRETCHING – a way of embracing, caressing and mapping our built environment with hazardously unsupportive movements based on a long history of workout queens – the archistretch work here already produced four little videos in which my friend Guilherme Altmayer and myself dedicate ourselves to the corners and curves of the roof terrace of the building where he lives, which is called Edificio Apolo Studium. And also I am obsessed with the mutations of the patterns of the sidewalks in São Paulo – documenting and digitalizing these random results of disobedience or just disinterest. And yes, I do enjoy being here, in this very particular pile of concrete that shines in its own beauty undisturbed by the spread of advertisement that marks all the other urban conglomerations in our hypercapitalist world system. Which I assume will be with us for some longer painful time.
And you darling, how is the heart of North America to you? Feeling profoundly Nebraskan already?
My Nebraskan days are numbered, two weeks left here. It’s been great, Omaha has just enough going on to have maintained it’s novelty, but not so much that my studio isn’t the best thing about being here. I’ve also been lucky to have shared this time with some great co-resident artists, without whom this might have proved to be more of an ascetic experience. And given my Catholic propensity for self-flagellation, I’m glad they’ve provided balance with drink and camaraderie. I half expected not being in Berlin might be what you were up to, but Archistretching (dig) and your being active doesn’t come as a surprise – and reiterate some thoughts I’ve had about you and communal space. basso, in the various ways it can be described (publication, cinema, social and creative event space, etc) is defined by group activity and, as I experienced it in Berlin, was at it’s core a community. Having said that, basso is also inseparable from you as an individual, who’s organising achievements and financial support enabled this community. As a permanent space basso (temporarily?) closed it’s doors last year, I know you felt it was time to switch gear. I was wondering if basso, as a concept, has gone with you to São Paulo, can basso be described as your practise, is it wherever you are?
And, given the communal nature of that space in Berlin and your current attempt to activate public space in São Paulo, can you explain your emphasis on community?
My dear, are you aware you are touching the point of no return with these questions?
Yes basso closed its doors for the larger public last year after 7 years and hundreds of events of every kind. During this time, not only the core group of basso formed around the space and myself, but also a fantastic community came together and created this unique situation that inspired scores of artists to present their work. Our group also worked on collective projects outside of our space and with the magazine there was a printed version of this mix. During this whole time, as you noticed, I was in the centre of the people and their actions, leading a life which could be described as anything from cleaning lady to mother-of-them-all, doing every kind of work that such a low budget project needs to have executed – including paying the bills and canalising resources of any kind. basso, initially the name of the space, thus got also the name of a group, a style, a magazine, a position, a form of protest – AND my own artistic practice. every person involved had her own vision of who and what basso is, and through the years, all claims have had their time of validity – to cut it short, now, that the public function of the space is finished and it is being used as a working place only, nobody including myself is able to answer your question.
The basso idea however lives in me and of course I could everything but turn into an individualist market artist – my interest in creating situations and putting people together goes on, while at the same time I also want to step forward. While Berlin with its gigantic variety of arty spaces and zillions of queer performers called for a more private, intimate and openly secret space, in São Paulo my work goes towards ‘opening’ the public space for public use – it is about finding the right particle of sand and the right mix of people to slowly render an exquisite pearl. It’s oyster time again! – but this time a more tropical one …
I came across some beautifully shot footage of Ryszard Cieslak explicating physical technique at Jerzy Grotowskis Laboratorium in Wrozlaw in 1972. I’ve been exploring physical improvisation in my studio whilst on residency here in Omaha, in order to stabilise my mental activity, but also as a somatic generator of ideas and content. The attempt is one of egalitarian form – assimilate body mind and language – so that they are not only non-hierarchical, but polymorphous – that the elements that comprise self are a gestalt. As research, I paired this footage with a word lesson in song, because of it’s inspired abstract and rhythmic use of language. You can watch the video here.
Greetings from Omaha, Nebraska. Officially where the West begins.
I’m currently in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art
I came to Bemis at the beginning of the year with a brand new laptop and a brand new High Definition camcorder and among other things a Penguin book from 1969 called Pathology of Attention, which summarises then current psychological models of perception – which were distinctly analogous to computer systems. I started work on a video which used one of these now outmoded models as a formal structure. Within this mechanical model I equated the function of my new High Definition camcorder, but ironically operated by an organic, spontaneous and distinctly unsystematised entity that is myself…
I’m thinking of it as an Album of cognitive scenarios, you can watch it here