Pictures by Torben Huss, Blind Spot, Metropolis Biennale, Kobenhavn International Theatre, Aug 2009
Above - Aida Redza in Blind Spot. A work with Jay Pather and the company in Copenhagen: Witness a fusion of ritual with real life and the majestic with the minimal in a staged dance pilgrimage from the outer Nørrebro to the sanctuary of the inner city.
eleven dancers from different cultures map the psychological and emotional meeting ground amongst diverse individuals caught in personal moments. Five especially made performances take place at sites along Nørrebrogade, all the way to the centre of the city.
Please visit http://www.artthrob.co.za/Reviews/Review-of-Body-of-Evidence-by-Peter-Machen-at-The-Playhouse.aspx to read interview of Jay Pather.
Below a one week moving collaboratorium with 3 wonderful artist friend Rosa Isaldur, Anamet Magven and Raymond Roa for the UnCut Malaysia Arts Festival produced by Jambatan - Copenhagen (the first Malaysian artist network in DK).Along with us , in the process is our two malaysian artists amir zainorin and fathul.
Malaysia UnCut Festival, Copenhagen August 2009
My experience in collaborative work;In my opinion, a collaborative process in the organizing, managing and executing of a project/program, is easier said than done. Most commonly a collaborative work in an artistic environment for example, especially in the ones that I have been involved with so far directed by others, is still very much dictated by the pyramid function where the collective artists are working towards a theme, that is suggested and directed by the Artistic Director, or the initiator of the project. The collective artists shares ideas, explore in a studio base type work, or on the ground or site with direct contact and hands on interaction/contact improv, among each other in developing conceptual ideas, narratives and the kinetic movement form of the theme given.With the Artistic Director inspiring the collaborators, they select and string this collective ideas together to serve a larger structure. This can be executed quite smoothly and easy without hiccups when the collaborative group work is actually supported with the possibility of spending very much time not only working but actually 'living' if you can say it that way,.. on an expedition together. Sharing not only choreographic knowledge and ideas, but actually learning emotionally, spiritually and culturally the differences and similarities of each others ethos, philosophy and way of living of the other by literally going on a physical expedition together.In a collaborative process where a group of independent artists who are very new to each other (especially in the kind of collaboratorium that i am interested in), artists who come together to identify and recognize new possibilities, set new challenges, methodology without clear definition and understanding of leadership and role and responsibility,from each artists own cultural frame and background, may actually stir the collaborative process into a state of chaos, where misunderstandings and conflicts, would arise. Rather than being empowered, some individuals may opt to play a non-active role. As there are blind or grey areas where the gaps of understanding of our cultural, personal and social differences, group dynamics is misinterpreted and judged with little tolerance and sensitivity towards the other. And this can happen at all levels of discussion and communication in an individual or group relationship of a collaborative work, even how open and tolerant we think we are. Just establishing a common vision, and questions to inspire more thoughts and take of the vision among a group of new collaborators ... definitely will create collisions, and we should always be prepared to encounter this problematic areas and find the best and timely action to establish solutions to continue moving forward rather than being caught in trying to resolve and attempting to create a functional system or work strategy of a perfect collaboration. Because there isn't a one way to a perfect collaboration. Its always a trial and error, and about feeling and sensing each other on ground level.
And that is why a collaborative process in creating a project/program - starting with a whole new set of collective artists, to share a common vision could be a failure if communication, practice and sharing does not go beyond studio work, and only rely on discussion and debate. Even though i am stressing that collaborations must be conducted on the systems of physical motion and creative action and exchange, a complete collaboration must be inspired by a central key figure who must be open and willing to share the collaborative process rather than dictate its direction. And definitely a deeper bonding among the collaborators is highly encouraged. I do not believe in just coming together to discuss a collaboration, and leave when the 9 - 5 clock-in time is over. A collaboration must or try to be as tight and involved as a whole journey like a pilgrimage together. Too difficult in this modern times isn't it? When every individual has their own daily agenda's, family commitment, full time jobs ..... so on and so forth.
Moving on, although I have always been keen to work with dance artists and performers from different cultures and background but actually this days am preferring to be inspired by collaborative work with artists from different interdisciplinary mediums. I find that it makes the work deeper with multiple layers of meaning, context and juxtaposing design in performance states and visual input. And providing many angles and entry point into the subject that is questioned when making cross culture collaboration such as power, identity, territory, differences, displacement, hope and memory. As the subject naturally hits the collaborators face on with issues they may encounter and confront when working towards establishing one plural artistic agreement among so many.