I’ve spent the last four months in a conscious creative hibernation.
The conflicted stress associated with the production of Drawn Dead left me at a personal crossroads, not just artistically but in terms of whether I wanted to stay in Seattle beyond 2013. There are a lot of obstacles to making art when you don’t follow a conventional artistic career path, and I wasn’t sure if I was willing to deal with the hassles or if my work even had an audience in light of those obstacles.
If you don’t have a connection with a culturally relevant audience, there’s no purpose to making performance art. And some people face more barriers than others to accessing that audience. I face a certain, significant volume of work in reaching that audience, and I wasn’t sure if I had the capacity and will to put that work in. There is a sizable contingent of the Seattle performing arts community that sincerely believes my work does not deserve an audience and will work to make sure it never gets one. Everyone has such a contingent, and some respective contingents are bigger and more influential than others.
So to move forward I would have to reconcile this reality, not to mention other factors. At the time I was struggling financially with a freelance gig after having left my full time career in February. My personal and artistic relationships were heavy on distance and light on connection. Seattle is not a cheap place to live, and socioeconomic developments were taking a toll on the city’s luster. The combination of circumstances left me wondering if the real answer was to say forget it and go live somewhere else.
In the interim, I also agreed to work on two other pieces produced by colleagues with which I have history. Dylan Ward produced a piece at Velocity’s Next Fest NW in December, while Syniva Whitney’s GENDER TENDER produced a show with Gay City Arts this January. The rehearsal process gave me a chance to stay active, connected with colleagues I enjoy working with and to let someone else steer the artistic ship, immersing me in rehearsal processes that allowed me to shelve any need to think about my situation let alone make any big decisions.
Of course, I really enjoyed working on both pieces, both had a sizable audience and received excellent receptions, and despite the sudden, ill-timed onset of the worst illness I have had in several years I feel recharged, that both experiences were what I needed at a time I really needed it.
I still don’t know how I intend to proceed artistically, and have made a point not to consider it during this time. Even after the conclusion of GENDER TENDER’s Sync or Swim, I made a point to not consider or make any artistic moves until the start of February, to give myself a couple weeks to do nothing and engage the life of having nothing to focus upon (outside of course of going to work: In the interim I secured a new full time position at UW that was an improvement over my previous work situation in pay and lifestyle).
That said, I would like to make performance pieces in 2014, at least short pieces for a willing and relevant audience if not longer pieces. Drawn Dead isn’t dead but jury’s out if I want to revamp and perform it again. I have another full solo show in mind and would definitely want room to develop that. I’d like the chance to present dance and performance art pieces, rather than be deterred and steered away from that. Much like Dylan Ward I am deeply fascinated with the dramatic combination of text and movement as a collectively poetic presentation.
But I also have narrative, theatrical ideas and am still curious about meaningful combinations of theatre and dance. I just need a receptive audience that isn’t looking to fix, deter or stop what I am trying to make.