Tzeni Argyriou- Amorphy, interview by from stage to page

Posted on March 14, 2012

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Dr.Maybe Darling, photo by Giorgos Soutos

 

Could you briefly introduce yourselves?

My name is Tzeni Argyriou and I am an artist who is working for the past 10 years in a fusion of performing arts and new media. My background is in dance and movement and ‘movement’ has always been what leads and links all the elements in my work. When I say movement-(in order to clarify my statement) I mean rhythm and duration in relationship to space. For example even when I am editing a video, I am looking for rhythm, the movement from one thing to the next. It is a movement of emotions, where to move the emotions of the spectator and of myself. After all, I am the first sample of a spectator. It is a movement of spaces, a distortion of the environment that I am suggesting each time. The movement becomes the space – an illusionary space rather than the given space. And of course there is the time element; space and time are linked anyhow.

For me, the process is equally important to the result, the product. I do have a fascination towards documenting the process, and then I use this documentation either in the performance, either create something else with this documentation material like a website or an installation.

What do you want to question with your current project?

My current project is still Dr. Maybe Darling. The question is the topic, the topic of freewill, it is more about free choice: how we choose things- this freedom on many levels especially in western society. This is where the questions stem from, the west. Maybe if lived in the east I wouldn’t have these questions at all. For me this topic is also related to the fear of taking responsibility. This is what I experience, observing around me- we struggle to make the right decision (based on the duality system of western thinking, a or b). But in our lives actually most of our decisions are the c – choice. It is not really black and white, we live our lives mostly with what is in-between. We move in the in-between, but we don’t consider this place to be a strong place. We don’t trust it as an action in itself this in-between space. So we postpone decisions in time still sticking to the western right /wrong format.

In my work, these past years, I have been commenting on technology and all the choices we are offered. I feel that it postpones the actions of people- the multitude of choices, renders one unable to even act on ONE of them. My personal realization after all these years, is to accept a childish curiosity and motivation, to accept ourselves as energy receptors and transmitters – ultimately accept uncertainty as a natural thing. Choice is really a human thing.

Is questioning actually the process?

Questioning has always been the process. Eventually one reaches a hypothesis. Questions formulate through millions of neurological pathways-is it the same for men and women? Then this question, leads to other questions and eventually I am lead to the following hypothesis: Indecisiveness is a contemporary social phenomenon.

Do you want these questions to become the audience’s question?

I am trying to find ways so that the audience will also question themselves. To follow my stream of thought is also allowing for the audience’s interpretations to these questions as well.

Do you think audiences are looking for a message?

Yes, I think they do. The message for this piece Dr Maybe Darling, is contained in the last 3-4 minutes of the piece. If 80% of this work is talking about our overloading of our brain- this last 3-4 minutes is the message. And the message is that the body takes over the mind and in this way everything becomes easier- through a childish curiosity, their is flow, and it is natural.

Humans are very egocentric, we suffer from this. If you see yourself as part of a huge chain and you realize it is not only about you, that you are part of a whole system, it is a very different way of being.

Are you interested in the individual/character/yourself?

I don’t think you can ever be yourself when you are on stage. If you are working on a solo, on one character, then you really want this performer, to be there 100%. The performer is ultimately the most important element of the work.

Do you have a specific method?

No. Maybe there is something common in the processes so far, but I would like to change soon. There is a common practice of gathering lots of material and then I cut, I edit. I want to change this, though. I have this need to become satisfied with one thing, rather than always wanting more. In my current project, I could use only one element out it and make a whole performance out of this one. Instead, I now have 10 elements/sections.

Psycho/Cycle photo by Lila Sotiriou

Psycho/Cycle photo by Lila Sotiriou

Do you consider yourself funny?

Yes, or should I say also funny. I do make a conscious choice of having humor in my work. As I said before, I am the first sample of an audience, and for me humor is a very important element.

Are you interested in text or sound in your work?

I don’t have a particular interest in exploring sound and text. Only if there is a need for these in a piece I l will work on text or sound.

So if you use text, is it improvised?

Some parts of the spoken text is set, some of it an improvisation. In Dr. Maybe Darling there is a section in which I confess what I see and think at exactly that precise moment, so this could not be set material anyhow.

What does it mean to produce work?

Producing the work is what I find the hardest and most exhausting. It really sucks up my energy, I do admit I am a control freak, I prefer to work in centralized manner, but ultimately I don’t enjoy producing my work- although I have done this a lot. I find that I am also very critical when other people are producing for me.

Are you an artist?

What is art? What is an artist? What is performance?- big questions…. In simple terms I would say that an artist is a way of being and a way of doing. I am being and doing this work for a long time now.

Are you a good artist?

No comment.

Do you like your work?

I can always find things in my work that I would have changed, if I was working on it again. When it comes to the whole picture, the final taste, I have recently overcome my critical, detailed viewing and I can see my work from a distance. And I can say that although I can still see a few things I would change, I like my work.

To be specific, I like the works that I have created and produced myself.

Do others like your work?

I don’t have a clear picture of the statistics, the percentage of people that like the work and the percentage of the people that don’t. I actually know most of the people that like my work.

See you in Walhalla photo by Nikos Fasouliotis

Are you happy with how you do things?

No, in the current situation of making work here, it is very difficult. My work is experimental anyway, it is an experiment in which you set the parameters and you try out things and this is hard. I really suffer sometimes- I mean you really need a basic infrastructure in order to make work.

How would you be happy?

I would be happy if I would have access to a space that: first of all supports experimentation (so that it is feasible to try things out) and brings people together for exchange (rather than working in isolation).  I believe that this would help in making things less serious-meaning that one doesn’t have to always think about the money- production issues or asking friends for favors- To be less serious in the sense of things being easier to handle and having the space for experimentation.

photo by Lila Sotiriou

Are you using the principle of improvisation?

Yes I do use it as a tool. I play with it.

Is your work set or improvised?

My work is made up of set rules in order to improvise.

Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations?

My goal is to open dialogues. My expectation is that people would want to be part of the dialogue.

Do you have a daily practice?

Unfortunately not. I just cannot maintain the discipline. I m very close at having a regular practice, though…

What do you think about solos?

I have done three solos, so far. I was the performer, only in the last one. With solos I think you have more time to go deeper with the exploration. Because there is only on person, you spend all the time on this person, and you try to reveal as many aspects of that person as possible. For me it is a very nice trip- we’ re born alone and we die alone, a solo-one person’s trip can be everyone’s  trip. So it is very interesting for me, but it is also very hard.

Do you create scores?

Because I don’t have a specific method, the scores are different: story boards, writing etc. A score for me is when I set certain parameters for the work, which are set both for the process and for the performance. Creating storyboards is also a way of documenting the work and is useful in communicating with my collaborators. If I am just left at my own devices – I just write notes, although I never go back to them to read anything. I just write something down because it makes the conscious realization of it, stronger for me.

Do you believe in less is more?

Yes, I think so. Less is more. But maybe you need more, in order to arrive to less. And of course the less is more to the point.

Would you say your work is dance-theater?

My work is not dance theatre anymore. I have made some works in the past that were more dance theatre during this period 2001-2003, not anymore.

Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences?

Yes. Sciences definitely neurology, sociology, there are so many I want to make a list. I am amazed with how many there are, they keep inventing more sciences through specialization or by combining two sciences. I had my first presentation for Dr. Maybe Darling in 2006 in Lisbon and until 2011 in a different place still the same piece. It is a scientific way of working, this way is very slow and I am obsessed with keeping on working on it from all the aspects until I feel it is complete-or when I understand it. (Although sometimes, understanding comes later than the moment of completion) At times, it is only after I have created the works, when I realize that I was actually working on the same topic with these different creations.

Are you using technology in your work?

Yes, since 2005. But this does not mean that technology will always be a necessary element for my future work.

A few questions on the elements of performance:

Time?

Precious

Space?

Everywhere.

Lights?

I did work on light with one creation, it was very specific. I use all these elements to enrich the work; I don’t use them as a starting point.

Set?

The less possible. I want the less possible .

Costume?

I have worked with that in the past. It is a part of collaborating with other people- to figure out, how the whole work will make sense.

How do you treat the body in your work?

I treat it with a lot of limitations. I set my limitations out. I am searching for the most interesting movement vocabulary rather than being in interested in the ability to do everything.

See you in Walhalla photo by Nikos Fasouliotis

Do you feel you have sometimes failed?

Many.

How has that affected you?

As a lesson to learn from.

What do you wish for?

I wish that art will be/become more a participatory action for changing things in the world rather than a sophisticated and enclosed  (isolated) practice. Not something outside of life itself.

When you started your company was it because you were you actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer?

It was partly good timing, to start working as a choreographer rather than a  performer. I was not challenged by what was happening to me as a performer. Both  the timing and this dissatisfaction, helped me make this shift in to making my own work.

 So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter?

‘It doesn’t matter at the end if you don’t have fun’, lyrics from a favourite song. The company is just an umbrella, it is a legal prerequisite in order to make works. For me what matters –is not to be guided for making money or a career for myself. For me there needs to be a personal reason, a voice to carry on when making work. When this need/sincerely is present, it links and connects to questions and needs of other people. So you are not just working in a permanent position in an institution. What I am trying to say is related with the freedom of (what you make) creating what you want. Only then, you can be experimental, take risks, try things out and have the urge to communicate something.

Thank you.

http://tzeniargyriou.com/

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