In Moments of Pause: A Q&A with Dance Artist Ira Ferris

Phrases by Maxine Flasher-Düzgünes

Just a few weeks in the past, I shared a dialog with Sydney-based dance and curatorial rtp artist Ira Ferris, co-Director of an arts collective Artemis Projects, who create between Europe and Australia. Ferris is co-author of the e-book SPACE BODY HABIT, which explores the brand new methods to expertise and interact with areas. Her responses drift fluently between her work as motion practitioner and multimedia artist, to her work as an exhibitions’ curator. At the moment she is organizing a web based panel ‘What happens in the pause?’ as a part of the March Dance competition, to contemplate and advocate for the worth of relaxation and stillness inside inventive apply and dance, which is scheduled for March 5th 2023 and free to attend from anyplace on this planet.

Maxine: How do you outline interdisciplinarity in your creative apply?  

Ira: I’m considering of it as a apply that doesn’t sit neatly or simply in anybody class. It’s extra porous and makes use of no matter medium or kind or self-discipline is out there to specific concepts or ideas. I don’t regard myself as an knowledgeable in any of the varieties – nor do I try to that – however extra as an explorer and a researcher. I believe it is usually my character which causes me to wrestle with placing myself below a label or inside a class. I get bored specializing in one factor or working in a single self-discipline for too lengthy, or too intensely. As an illustration, I’ll be a author for some time, however then I’ll want a break from that, so I’ll flip extra intensely to bounce or making podcasts. However on the finish of the day, I really feel that each one these are by some means interrelated, though it’s nearly unattainable to clarify how. I simply don’t see any specific distinction between them…They’re all means to an finish, I suppose.

Maxine: Do you prioritize any specific creative kind in your work – amongst them being dance, poetry, sound and video?

Ira: I might not use the phrase ‘prioritize’ as a result of it appears too unique, in addition to too aware or intentional, whereas what I do is much less so. I might fairly discuss it when it comes to a ‘core medium’ – the one which all the things comes from and returns to. And that core medium could be: the physique. The physique is on the middle of my explorations, and the instrument by way of which I encounter and interact with the world. It’s because I grew up and developed by way of dance; it’s one thing that I began working towards and coaching in once I was 5 and did for 15 early life of my life. So, once I introduce myself, I wish to say that I’m a ‘dancer’, even when I work in a unique medium on the time. However dance is the lens by way of which Ireally feel the world. So, even once I write, I write by way of the prism of dance. And this isn’t as a result of I consciously prioritize that, however as a result of it’s actually on the core of who and the way I’m.

Ira Ferris with Lily Alcock, Kirsten Packham, Catherine McNamara – in Lux Eterna’s The eighth Day, March Dance Improvement Residency 2022.

Maxine: You even have experiences as a curator, and I believe that’s a really attention-grabbing gateway in direction of merging loads of these fields. What’s your thought course of behind curating reveals? 

Ira: This can depend upon whether or not I work on a solo exhibition of 1 artist or a bunch present. Once I work with a solo artist, I deal with bringing their imaginative and prescient to life. I’m targeted on serving their voice, supporting them in constructing confidence by being within the room with them in order that they have any individual to bounce the concepts off, which is the method by way of which they make clear their very own ideas and intentions. After which possibly I’m going to be giving them suggestions, as somebody who’s faraway from the work and may see the fuller image. And I’ll suggest optimum methods to current their work, their concepts, within the area. Group reveals are completely different as a result of they begin with me establishing a theme that I’d prefer to discover, and I curate the artists round it. As an illustration, one of many exhibitions I’ve executed was known as, Contact is the Mom of all Senses, and it seemed on the approach 2D or 3D pictures can have a tactile sense, so we really feel them on the proximity of our our bodies, nearly as if brushing in opposition to our pores and skin. In these sorts of ‘thematic exhibitions’, I’ve a bit extra space to specific my very own concepts or creative pursuits, and I consider the gallery area as a canvas that I work with, and I carry artists and artworks into that area so as to add colours or shapes to that canvas. And so, I see these thematic group exhibitions as one massive set up and if they’re profitable, they received’t really feel like group reveals in any respect however have a way of cohesion, so it appears like a piece of just one artist.

Maxine: How do you assume numerous mediums of artwork can exist collectively in an area?

Ira: Hm, apparently I nearly really feel the query to be useless, which suggests: why wouldn’t they? You recognize, as artists all that we attempt to do is make one thing that’s not readily seen on this planet, seen by way of a metaphoric expression. And what we use to try this ought to actually be open. I don’t see any have to hone in on one specific medium. That appears very stifling for creativity, really. Unnecessarily inflexible.

Maxine: Relating to your individual gallery-shows – exhibitions of your individual works – do you all the time have stay efficiency as a part of it? Or is that depending on the piece?

Ira: Yeah, completely dependent. As an illustration, latest exhibition of my work – time, circles, and pure rhythms – was a video, poetry, mixed-media exhibition that explored methods we are able to measure time by way of the physique, after we swap off the very colonizing Western gadgets resembling clocks. And I did take into account together with a stay efficiency factor, however I needed to let go of that as a result of it simply didn’t serve the work. It was arduous to drag again as a result of gallery-performance is one thing that I’m fairly focused on, however it was not including something to what I used to be wanting to specific so it will be forceful and executed just for the sake of leisure, which isn’t what I used to be going for. So no, I don’t all the time have stay performances as a part of it, which once more speaks to that factor: I solely use the medium that serves the idea on the time. So typically that’s the stay physique. And on this case, the presence of the physique was nonetheless there, however it was on display screen.

Ira Ferris in time, circles, and pure rhythms_2021

Maxine: What have you ever found in your inventive work with bodily supplies? 

Ira: If you say ‘bodily supplies’, I instantly consider the area or the surroundings the physique strikes in, and with. What I found is that the location and the surroundings have an effect on the physique and the physique impacts the location. We’re very delicate to the location, to what surrounds us, and the location is delicate to us – whether or not we’re conscious of this or not. Making works that carry us again to the attention of this interconnection, is environmentally vital and pressing.

I’ve additionally found that when we all know the area – this bodily container inside which we transfer – as soon as it’s acquainted, we have a tendency to maneuver in it in routine methods which restrict our notion and the potential of in any other case. That is one thing I’m focused on difficult. I’m focused on pushing the boundary of creativeness that we create by way of habits. On the similar time, I do know that this restrict is a really arduous shell to interrupt, troublesome to increase, as a result of on the finish of the day even the physique itself is a body, and a comparatively inflexible one. So as an illustration, I as Ira can solely transfer in sure methods, not simply due to the actual coaching I’ve executed but additionally as a result of my physique is constructed as a specific type of construction. However I’m nonetheless focused on questioning how far can I push that edge; how a lot can I problem the given restrict, which can be a restrict to creativeness.

Maxine: Are you able to elaborate in your work with somaesthetics. Is that this a time period that you simply’ve coined or a lineage? 

Ira: Completely a lineage. All the pieces that I do – and I believe all of us do – is a lineage; nothing actually is an unique concept. It’s lovely and one thing to be celebrated. We’re all the time within the lineage of academics and mentors which have shared with us their knowledges. And this one is one thing that I’ve encountered by way of movement-artist and educational Lian Loke who I imagine makes use of it from Professor Richard Shusterman. I’m not an knowledgeable on this time period, and I could also be utilizing it in ways in which Professor Shusterman didn’t intend, however ‘soma’ means ‘physique’ and ‘aesthetics’ is the best way we prepare issues on this planet, so this time period resonated with me when it comes to curating artwork exhibitions in a approach that’s targeted on the phenomenology of the expertise. How as curators we prepare or design or curate an area in a approach that results the physique of the customer – their senses and their notion. We affect the best way the artworks are ‘learn’ by positioning them in a specific approach inside the area.

If you place them in a different way, the entire which means adjustments. It’s much like altering the order of sentences within the textual content, or phrases inside the sentence. If we shift the order, the entire which means of the textual content adjustments, and that’s what we’re doing in areas by way of positioning artworks in sure methods. After which on the similar time, as curators we additionally choreograph actions by way of the area. We create sure pathways by way of which the works might be skilled, which is the order through which the works are encountered. And this additionally impacts the notion – the work that you’ve seen simply earlier than will have an effect on the best way that you simply see the following work. I wish to empower the viewer to know that their notion is being not directly manipulated; and in the event that they change into conscious of that, then they’ll additionally query that or attempt to break by way of that. It’s not that this manipulation is unfavorable. It’s our job to create sure type of phenomenological expertise and there may be intentionality behind it. There’s nothing improper with that, it’s simply that I would really like the viewers to take heed to that, so they aren’t simply puppets on the finish of the string.

Maxine: May you inform us a bit concerning the improvement of the e-book SPACE BODY HABIT and a few workouts provided within the e-book?

Ira: The e-book was an consequence of a two-week residency that I had executed with fellow artist Elia Bosshard at a inventive area known as Frontyard right here in Sydney. Initially we didn’t intend to jot down the e-book however wished to develop a workshop-model across the ways in which we habitually use areas, and problem that. Every day of our residency began with a specific train now we have invented and led one another by way of, after which on the finish of the train we’d have a dialogue. We audio recorded the entire length of the residency – as a result of I’ve a compulsion to file sounds – and so we had this materials which ultimately we felt could also be price sharing with others, so we transcribed it into the e-book. One train was, unsurprisingly, impressed by [German theatre practitioner] Bertolt Brecht, who was all about breaking the social conditionings and established order, and the political potential of that. This train known as Eight walks (perceptions and selections) and it invitations you to stroll the identical pathway by way of the area eight occasions, every time specializing in a unique sense or being led by a unique a part of the physique, resembling the highest of the pinnacle or an elbow. After which the eighth stroll is an invite to stroll the area as soon as once more, however this time very slowly, nearly unnaturally sluggish, spending numerous time deliberating the place to go subsequent…This was geared toward highlighting that second after we make selections, and maybe not following the primary impulse or first intuition, however giving ourselves a while – therefore, slowness – to decide on in any other case and see what that results in, how that makes us really feel and what we uncover concerning the area if we shock ourselves in the best way we use it. On the finish of this train, we had a very wealthy dialogue on the distinction between impulse, behavior, intuition, and instinct; whether or not they’re considerably synonymous or really completely different.

One other train that I’d like to spotlight, as a result of it was possibly my favourite one, known as Yesterday’s pathways, provided by my colleague and co-author Elia Bosshard. It’s a quite simple train that asks you to attract the trail you took by way of the area the day earlier than, from the second you’ve arrived to the second you’ve left, which may very well be 5 hours of your time. You’re requested to retrace the entire journey by way of the area and its surrounding throughout these 5 hours the day earlier than. I really like this train as a result of it actually connects you to your muscle reminiscence. As you draw the traces, you’re deeply in your physique feeling and reliving the sensations of motion by way of the area… In making these traces, you come to a micro degree of that larger motion that you simply’ve made along with your physique the day earlier than; even the issues like going exterior of the constructing to get lunch and coming again down the streets and getting in once more. You’re remembering these actions however you’re solely utilizing this micro degree of A4 paper to current that on…So it’s very delicate, however very strongly embodied.

Maxine: What’s it like working inside the artwork scene of Sydney? 

Ira: Um, effectively, I’ve nothing to check it with so it’s arduous to talk of it when it comes to specific geographical context, however once I converse to my Croatian pals, a lot of whom are artists, all of us converse of similar struggles, which is often funding and lack of cash, lack of help, doing heaps free of charge, numerous volunteering work. Typically investing our personal cash into issues. And after we do receives a commission, it’s insignificant amount of cash. As an illustration, as a author you get $100 to $300 for a textual content you’ve spent weeks on. As a result of it’s not simply the time spent sitting over the pc typing the textual content, however all of the hours spent staring on the horizon and percolating concepts – these invisible moments of labor that we do as artists, in intervals that seem as pauses. They aren’t seen as work, however in actuality all the things occurs in these invisible moments. When you go and sit by the pc to jot down a textual content or go to the studio to make the work, that’s the top a part of the method. That’s when the work is already executed. You simply put it on the market. However all these tortuous weeks of developing and clarifying the thought in your head – that’s simply seen as nothing. And it’s one thing that pursuits me of late. How can we converse to establishments about that, in order that they understand there’s a lot work executed in these moments of pause?