Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Intangible Dramaturgy: Amy Rosa @ Buzzcut

We have ignored a large part of our beings
for too many centuries. We have ignored the soul; our own souls, and the soul of every living thing around us.

We live in an age where we aspire for the unattainable, and so we feel lost, because we never feel completion.  As a race, we place value in the rational, the proven, the 'known', and we are encouraged to dismiss instinct, the unknown, the intangible. The felt.

Amy Rosa is a Glasgow based live artist who was raised amidst fields and foxes. Her arts practice looks into how our pasts echo our presents and futures, our relationship to the ancient, and how we still haven’t learnt.

​​Amy Rosa has produced work for Buzzcut Glasgow, Dark Behaviour with 85A, Centro de Arte Mutuo Barcelona, MPA Berlin, The Arches Glasgow, GDIY and has performed at the Barbican, BYOB, the Traverse, the Citizen’s theatre and for the Merchant City Festival, working in collaboration with, amongst others; Untitled Projects, Houston and Sharpe, Nic Green, Janice Parker and Stephen Skrynka

Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you are bringing to Buzzcut?
Gallanach is a piece that investigates female pain through live installation and sculpture. Last year I was diagnosed with two incurable lifelong conditions, and the past few months I have been trying to work out how to live in a completely different body. 

Alongside this, my practice has had to be modified to allow for these differences, in as much as I have had to forgo my usual territory of long, one to one, intimate sharings and develop my skills in varying formats. I will be working with materials I have a long artistic history with, branches, twine, water, and I am exploring new materials to weave into the piece, woad from my native Norfolk, and electric wire fencing.

What is it about Buzzcut that attracted you to perform as part of it?
I've known Rosana and Nick for a few years now, and apart from being wonderful artists in their own right, they have a particular knack for creating a flow to a festival of live art, making an overall experience for the audience that is extraordinarily organic and moving. Also the lovely vegan lunch is always a good incentive!

Do you see your work within any tradition - and are there any artists (performance and beyond) whom you regard as a peer or an influence?
There are so many, it's hard to pick! I've always been drawn towards artists like Francesca Woodman and Deborah Turbeville, their compositions in photography have an unearthly quality that really appeals to me. I am a big fan of Carl Jung, and a lot of my work has been imbued with philosophies we share. I love Anne Bean, particularly the collaboration PAVES and specifically the action of her and Kurdish artist Poshya Kakl plaiting their hair together, very slowly. 

I like work that doesn't need to be loud, that finds the strength and subtlety of vulnerability and quietude. Andy Goldsworthy's sculptures encourage me to find the patterns in sculpture that nature offers itself. Sarah-Jane Grimshaw's work has always been a huge inspiration too, and many many authors, too many to count! I find the work of Kosovan artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa and her installation 'Thinking of You', and the work of artist Jaime Black with The Red Dress Project to be particularly moving, and powerfully silent.

How 'typical' is this work compared to other pieces that you have made? Did the process follow a familiar or new pattern?
This piece follows on from my interests in how our environment affects our physical, emotional and spiritual health, but with more focus on live installation. It is very different from the last few years of my work, which were predominantly duration based one on one pieces, in that it will be performed in front of an actual audience, which is slightly daunting!

Buzzcut is concerned with the idea of 'community'. Does community have a special meaning for you, and what relationship do you feel your work has within wider communities?
I've always been interested in the notion of the 'outsider'. Community is an incredibly important thing to have for any society, but I feel there are enough artists who explore this subject with more finesse. I am drawn to this sense of being on the peripheries, as I myself have always been. It's not a negative, although it can be hard. 

Even in circles where there are people on the same wavelength, I've always felt removed somehow, and instead of worrying about it or trying to 'fit in', I have decided to embrace the 'other'-ness that has followed me. With my work, I hope to call out to the other peripherals, to try and imbue them with the sense of joy there can be in flying solo, the freedom of not 'fitting in'. 

What are you hoping that the audience will experience?
With this piece, I hope that the audience will leave with a better understanding of chronic illness and the disintegration of the old ways to pave way for a new version of life. 

Are there any strategies which you used to direct the audience experience towards this?
Nope, I'll just do my thing and see what people think and feel!

What is it about performance that enticed you - and kept you making it?
That's an excellent question, and something I've been wondering about for a couple of years. I started acting age 12, and acted in 4 or 5 plays a year through most of my teenage life. I wanted to be an actor for so long, then in my early 20s I realised it wasn't making me happy, it was making me anxious. The whole world of acting is a sharp and treacherous one, and I was getting bored of making someone else's work, and I was missing my sidelined practices like sculpture and painting and writing; so I delved into the world of performance art. 

After my degree, I began to wonder if I actually wanted to perform any more. I had been settling into doing installation and one to one pieces, and that felt really good; I have always preferred the intimacy of small performance. Since my diagnosis I have had to think long and hard about what avenue my work would have to go down. And maybe performing won't be there. But that's okay. Other things will be.

Are there any questions you feel that I ought to ask to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Nothing I can think of, you've been pretty thorough!

(Gaelic adj. full of young tree)

In late spring 2015 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It’s not a condition that many people know about. It’s not a condition that is easily explained. It involves chronic pain and chronic fatigue, related to a central sensitisation of my nervous system and a weakening of my immune system. It is incurable. In early winter I was also told that my immune system had attacked and killed my thyroid gland, so I had been living for months with pretty much no metabolism. I am 28 and trying to work out how to navigate in a totally different body. And it's really really scary.

The loneliness of being ill is a very potent thing. When you can't walk far, your world suddenly becomes very small. People forget about you when you're not right in front of them. With chronic illness, there's a silence that settles on you. You can't talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. Friends don't know what to say or do and end up saying, and doing, nothing. 

This piece will be a physical investigation of my experiences as a woman with a chronic, invisible yet lifelong condition, and an investigation of how female pain is viewed differently and often with scepticism. It will also resonate with ideas of carrying too much weight, physical weight, invisible weight, anxious weight, and how expending so much energy on extraneous subjects and putting unnecessary pressure on oneself can sometimes have very real, very physical effects. 

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