Friday, 29 April 2016

Tense Dramaturgy: Adam York Gregory and Gillian Jane Lees @ Buzzcut

Present Tense, by Adam York Gregory and Gillian Jane Lees.

Gillian moves through the space carefully setting several hundred conventional wooden mousetraps on the floor. Her hands and feet are bare and vulnerable, close to the trap mechanisms. She continues until she is backed into a corner... 

We are looking to create a cumulative physical tension through the spring loaded traps and observe if it equates to a growing sense of emotional tension in anyone witnessing the piece – whether the repetition of a task that contains an inherent physical danger becomes more tense when performed repeatedly.

Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you are bringing to Buzzcut?

We're bringing 500 wooden mousetraps for an experiment to see if physical tension can equate with emotional tension in an enclosed space.

What is it about Buzzcut that attracted you to perform as part of it?

It's a unique festival. The space is unusual, chaotic and lively. The audience is a vibrant mix of other artists, locals and folk from all over the world. It's a great place to perform, but we also really enjoy being there as part of the audience too. There's a lot of wonderful work to see.

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?

A strong interest in materials and process, progress and form, all wrapped up in a sort of optimism … that sort of makes us modernists, doesn't it?

Adam approaches our work as a visual artist and a scientist, like an experiment whilst Gillian approaches it from the perspective of a performer. As well as creating a type of tension in how we work, and what we make, it also means we have a varied set of influences.

Adam's Top Influences:
Buckminster Fuller, Paul Erdos, Carl Andre, Le Corbusier, William Burroughs and Space Invaders. 

Gillian's Top Influences: 
Rinke Dijkstra, Tehching Hsieh, Anna Teresa de keersmaeker and Robert Wilson.

In terms of peers, that's always an awkward question. What if we leave someone out, what if they don't feel the same? Perhaps it is better to just couch it in the vague notion that we belong to a movement within performance and visual art that tends towards the slow and patient in durational practice. That doesn't mean that we don't enjoy watching other forms of work though, just that we make what suits us.

How 'typical' is this work compared to other pieces that you have made? Did the process follow a familiar or new pattern?

There is a trajectory in our work. The individual pieces share a certain amount of DNA in a thematic sense. They are all experiments in which the human body, Gillian's human body, is pitted against a notional ideal so that we can learn something from an abstract quality that we are curious about. So, we've covered the notion of intent and direction, the concept of failure, the measurement of time and space and now we are looking at tension.

The making process was fairly typical. We like to think, and drink coffee, a lot, before playing in a space. Typically we fight at some point too. 

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?

It's easy to think of community as something essentially 'local', but it needn't be. Art is a great vector for community in that it creates shared experience and commonality. As such our work fits in there somewhere. In personal terms, it has led to friendships all over the world, and that feels like being part of something bigger.

What are you hoping that the audience will experience?

We hope that they'll experience a degree of tension. Perhaps an element of schadenfreude too, if they wish the traps to go off.

Are there any strategies which you used to direct the audience experience towards this?

Mouse traps, mostly.

What is it about performance that enticed you - and kept you making it?

Adam: There's an immediacy in performance. The thing is made as it is shown. That's very similar to conducting an experiment in a laboratory. You can plan and draw diagrams as much as you want, but only when you start the experiment can you begin to get a physical understanding of an outcome or be witness to a process of change.

Gillian: I'm not very confident at maths. 

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