Thursday, 19 June 2008

First Impressions, Program Notes and a not so brief brief

First impressions
So the show of the work in progress is over.
I really wanted to write some things yesterday but I was extremely tired. I spent whole Thursday sleeping and just going from bed to kitchen.
Really sorry for all those of you who waited to hear some news.

So here it goes.

They usually say that a bad dress rehearsal means a good premiere. Indeed the dress rehearsal was awful. I forgot to put the projections on, I forgot my text, I was TOO stressed... fucking bad... you can't imagine.

But the things turned better for the evening show.

Before that, I had had a brief warming up with Fabio, my spiritual guide. It helped me a lot to release the tension in my body and concentrate on my center. After that, I had 10 mins to reconfigure the space and get ready for the performance.
Leon Carter, the technician was an excellent assistant and he was also very interested in my work and gave me a lot of questions on the content of the presentation. It was nice to work with someone who finds my lecture interesting.
The performance started and I was less stressed than in the dress rehearsal, still I was tense. With the time passing I managed to relax and take it easy.
Some little mistakes that happened, I managed to take them along board, I hope, and perform s if they are a part of the happening, alongside with the deliberate mistakes that would prove the format of performance lecture.
I was a bit slow in reconfiguring the space after the pig headed mask, and I think that has costed a lot of energy in the audience, especially becoz it was the beginning of the lecture.

But I think that the text has managed to take the audience with it and to lead them to specific moods.
Maria, a girl following the MAC program, she said she was about to cry. Not all of the audience felt so emotionally pitched but with all these people that I have spoken, they all felt drawn to follow without a breath the juxtaposition of photos.

One little problem is that the laser was pointing too low and began too early. As a result the line of tags was not the same as I had expected. Weird I felt. I am not sure if it is for better or worse. It just felt different.

A little bit before arriving to the song, Martin had suggested that I should introduce the syncopated way of speaking one or two sentences before the "I am real"... And so I did... first time ever to rehearse it this way, and it worked out fine.

During the song, i also decided to add more and more action and to become bigger and bigger. That decision came after having seen the video, where there is a great climax and then because I stop singing and moving, it flattens everything. So I decided never to stop moving (even if i didnt have to sing). I think it brought everything to a nice climax.

A nice anecdote on nudity
If you remember by the end of the performance, I leave the space and go out to put some new clothes only to come back and ask the audience members if they have any questions or queries.
That was my intention to make the audience members look at the space after I have left it. A small museum. A document.

Well here is what happened. I open the door and I get out of the room. I am naked. Some kids are playing just in front of me. They get shocked. Even more shocked when I scream. I rush into the other room to change clothes. That takes some time. I am back, but one audience member thought it was over (that was Tony who is probably now reading my blog).
After some difficult questions, the show is over and I learned from the people that the kids went to the security to report the incident of a crazy guy running naked and screaming. The audience who had by that time just gotten out of the room, had to explain to the security guy that it was a performance.
My god... I never thought I would shock so much...
I feel really sorry for these kids. But the little pets have never played there before so that I could guess that they might be there. Oh well, anyway... they will have to face reality I guess in some years.
and as i say in my lecture "but what reality, whose reality are we talking about???"

Some reflections
1. I think this work needs to go further. I feel quite strong connected to it and believe there is something very interesting in it. It is still a work-in-progress though and therefore I need to find time to work on it even more.
2. Even as a work-in-progress , I believe people realized the amount of work behind it. That gave me a small of a tap in the back and a encouragement to go further. My work has been sort of recognized and there is nothing more I could ask. Imagine if I polish it what there would come.
3. Not having performed the last 2-3 years it was really difficult for me to come back. I think it was even more difficult because I never had the chance to work as a performer not did I have an external eye to correct me. Never the less, doing and redoing the performance has helped me to acquire a level of comfortability that I was lacking in the beginning. Still, I need to learn how to relax and not stress. If there is one thing I need to work more than anything else that is my stress and anxiety. If I were a bit more loose the piece would be much better. But again it was the premiere. That's ok. Not only that, but it was a work-in progress.
4. I need to put a tape in the cameras that are doing the supplement document, so that if I ever do it again I can use the material to have a better editing.
5. I should work out the first part where I reconfigure the space after the pig. It is quite boring to wait and wait.
6. I should see the video of the performance and then jump into conclusion but for the time being I think that what the text needs is sharpness and clarity in performance and at the same time try to break the glass between me and the audience. I need to be closer to the audience. Not it terms of geographic proximity but in terms of communication. If I loosen up I can do it better.
7. In a few words, I need to work out my performance skills, for sure. thank god laban does not have that as a criterion :)
8. Find cheaper batteries. My god each battery costs 2 pounds and I use 2 of them which means every performance costs at least 4 pounds. That's expensive... I am never going to make any money out of it...
9. I would like to perform this piece (when finished) to different audiences and countries and see their reaction. Since, for me, the piece is about war and photography, things that are global. How can the different cultures react to this piece?
10. Watch the film and then add up here your next thoughts.


Here are the notes of the program of the performance. This is what I want the audience to read.

TITLE Regarding the pain of others- Performance Lecture

"Invited [by Laban] I decided, instead of presenting the piece, to make a lecture about its issues. I have the feeling that this difficult piece hasn't been really understood. Maybe the piece was bad. But I believe that the issues of this piece were relevant, that is why I would like to change my medium and use the tool of the lecture to try to articulate better the stakes of ‘[Regarding the pain of others]’. I will re-contextualise the piece in its theoretical level through the texts of [Susan Sontag] and [Caroline Brothers] and in my artistic situation at that time."
(copied from Jérôme Bel), [edited by Pavlos Kountouriotis]

CHOREOGRAPHER Pavlos Kountouriotis

PERFORMERS Pavlos Kountouriotis

SOUND “'Mal Reggendo All'aspro Assalto' from 'Il Trovatore'” by Enrico Caruso
“I am real” by Pavlos Kountouriotis


SCENOGRAPHY Pavlos Kountouriotis

COLLABORATORS Pavlos Kountouriotis

Special thanks to my blog fans and haters, to Aaron Paterson and Martin Hargreavess for their great support, to Fabio Culora for his spiritual guidance, to Leon Carter for the lights and of course to me…

And this is a two page brief, of a more academic thought on my piece that does not interpret the piece in terms of what the piece itself says already, but tries to unpick another strand of interpretation of my research. Click here to access the .pdf file. (If the link doesnt work blame it to Google and ask me to send you the file). You can also read it below but it misses some nice photos and footnots also.

2 pages brief (not available to the audience)
Regarding the Pain of Others- A performance Lecture
by Pavlos Kountouriotis (2008)

Research Questions
• How can documentation be a performative event?
• How can documentation be an action of the past, the present and the future?
• How does documentation relate to the dynamics of memory archiving and recollection taking place in the present time?
• Where does reality (for Sontag) or authenticity (for Auslander) lie in documentation?
• How do you perform a text? Or how do you get rid of the unholiness of captions?
• How do you free a document from captions and text or how much of captions and texts are needed?
• How can you make a piece where different levels of interpretation are possible? Or how do you construct different spaces of time within the same space, so that interpretation of these spaces depends on the angle and perspective of a caption? So that it’s not just what it seems it is, but different realities coexist within the same photo.
• How important are captions?

Aims and Objectives
This work-in- progress in its entirety draws from the theories by Susan Sontag on the reality and performativity of documentation. Although Susan Sontag explicitly speaks about photography I try to enlarge the notion what that document might. Therefore two parallel universes were created that coexist and complement each other. The one is the choreography of a fictitious past moment breaking the boundaries between now, before and later and the other is the space of a live documentation of time.
In order for me to reply to the above questions and to connect these two parallel spaces I chose to create a third space, a line dissecting the two other universes and serving as a caption to understand, interpret or misinterpret both the choreography of a fictitious past and the live document. The power and the unholiness of captioning is also a constitutive part of Sontag’s theories.
Therefore, I chose for the medium of performance lecture, which, through its self-reflective, mirroring character can serve as a caption to the past, present and future. A thorough investigation on the stereotypes of the mode of a performance lecture has allowed me to give a comment on the authenticity and reality that this reemerging choreographic style builds by framing and staging only what the choreographer has chosen to think about or declares that he has chosen to thing about. Furthermore, if caption is perceived as both an explanation and an intention, without which the document has no meaning, the text and content of the performance lecture operates as a both the cause and the reason for the operation of live documentation and time/memory archiving.
In that sense, "connections between theory and performance are intertwined throughout. The Derridean concept of supplement as document in performance is inspirational for the production of the work. The latter focuses on the concept of present memory, traces, time delay and repetition, which I may find through this project, to be a paradox in the contemporary debate on liveness. This project is based on a hypothesis that notions of liveness and presence can be questioned by allowing manipulation of documentation in the live event to be the performance's opening stage rather than its point of closure thus generating a form of present memory".
Other than working simply with visual documents, there was also an effort to enrich the notion of what the format of a document could be, other than photography, questioning maybe Susan Sontag’s (2003) comment/caption: “poster ready […] photos are the visual equivalent of sound bites” (86).
Last but not the least, a very important characteristic of this work was my deliberate choice to work alone in the choreographing, photographing and general documentation of this work. Choreographing, perceived as historiography, as a means for creating a memory, had to be a solo work. As Sontag (1983) says: “Photos become memories and over time, fiction; there is no such thing as Collective Memory […] Memory is individual, irreproducible- it dies with each person.” (85) Furthermore, blogging every day was a part of the research on historiography but also captioning in order to explain to myself what had happened during my research that day and also to open the space for others to send me feedback.

Cologni, E. (2005).Fruition: perceptual time 'gap' as location for knowledge - Mnemonic Present Un-folding, Perspective section of Body, Space & Technology, (05), Retrieved June 17, 2008 from:
Derrida, J. (1978). That Dangerous Supplement, in Of Grammatology, Gayatri Spivak (tr.), Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Sontag, S. (2003). Regarding the pain of others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Brothers, C. (1996), War and Photography: a cultural history. New York: Routledge.

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