How to Build Dec 3, 2011

by Ella Mahler

As artists, we have the massive task of leading, facilitating, offering, exploring, providing....a transformation. The audience has given us permission to take them somewhere somehow, and it is our job to get them there. With the stage as the portal, we seek the greatest potential of molding something that is not "concrete" into even just the tiniest moment of making the air taste different. How do we do this? This is the question that never changes, but our possibilities, resources, and contexts do. 

Zoe and Juniper DID find a way to make the air taste different. They found a way to take the square, flat box of the stage, and turn it into a peeling, dissolving, 3-demonsional space - one with a viscosity that changes with each shedding layer. Through mediums that we can't "really" touch - movement, light, sound, color, time, space, distance, presence - they built substance. Dense, changing substance. I found my body react through defined sensations in my skin, muscles, and nervous system. As they peeled away membranes of this world, I felt as though I was slowly peeling away a band-aid. Not ripping - peeling. There is a tiny bit of pain, but mostly it just feels good to unveil a new breathing layer of skin - vulnerable, unprotected, but totally prepared. 


I look to these artists for their great success in making the intangible world tangible, and using resources that they clearly understood how to use in their widest capacities. When we live in a world now where we have a lengthy list of technology and media at our finger tips, it dramatically changes how artists make art. When we can't even keep up with the change in how we communicate via technology, so what does this mean for how we MAKE art or TAKE IN art? And when technology is hardly a limitation for people, it seems to be that much harder to use it in a way that is changing, altering, transforming. And not just using technology itself, but finding its relationship with mediums that we know better by trade: movement, performance, etc. How do we take the audience somewhere in this changing context? This is a question that we have to ask ourselves as artists more and more carefully. And this is a question that I think Zoe and Juniper were well aware of, and found the commonalities, conversations, and intersections of mediums to sum to a living entity. An entity that behaves in a way that is not calculated, segmented, or stacked in a system that we can take a part. One element could not live without the other. They all needed each other to breathe.


Not only do we have the task of building something altering, but it is our responsibility to consider the stakes, the variables, and the evolving ground. And then add in the growing list of possible ways to build. Limitations get smaller, which ask us to be more defined in where we hope to end up. So now, when we find a route to transformation, it is that much more potent. And Zoe/Juniper have cleared out a route that is rich, possible, and leave room for us to keep asking questions.