with Mark Russell, Philip Bither and Claude Wampler
Two heavyweight American curators interviewing one of the most inspiring contemporary performance artists alive, it couldn’t go wrong, and a blast it was indeed! It was one of the first noontime chats that really went somewhere relevant. Instead of discussing and explaining her piece (for a change, that was the only topic that was NOT under discussion), we got a great insight in Wampler’s very specific way of working and her look at the arts world today (and how this affects her work).
She started off explaining how she got into the field and how her these first encounters with the theater and dance scene started to shape her ideas on the dynamics of the performative event. She talked about how she is losing her ambition to engage a visual arts crowd in performative events and vice versa as she feels the two audiences have a completely different understanding of the artistic object/subject. The visual arts crowd wanting a dead object they don’t have to respond to, the performing arts crowd wanting a living subject that asks for attention, emotion… This duality made her think about the objectification / distancing of the performative. A second path that seems very important in her work is the aspect of spontaneity. For Wampler it seems like spontaneous or unforeseen acts are the only aspects that make theater interesting and relevant these days. Yet she understands that its of course a little paradoxal to manufacture artificial spontaneity as she does in her pieces. This also brings her to her final piece, the one she presents at TBA right now, subtitled: ‘Career Ender’. Wampler explains this as her inability to keep surprise people, manufacture artifial spontaneity, as she is out of tools. She experiences this as very suffocating and limiting her in her artistic course, paralysing her own being as an artists. Still, she had to admit that it’s not the first time she announces the end of her career and that after a while, eventually she’ll come up with something… maybe something completely different, ready to surprise us all again!
by Wouter Bouchez