Saturday, June 13, 2009

on SITI summer-part six OR tension and balance

sometimes flight takes strange forms.

we flee for survival when we are in imminent danger. we flee awkward interactions. we flee things that push deep and specific buttons in our psyche. we flee the exciting. we even flee from precisely what we desire.

on wednesday, at the weekly symposium, i asked anne bogart: as artists and human beings, how do we prioritize the ethereal/creative/phantasmic aspects of making theatre along side the concrete/materialist realities of everyday life?

her response was: exactly.

i've been thinking about the question a lot. and thought that the act of thinking about it was in itself enough. i have been catching myself from fleeing many things: the limitations of my body, my insecurities as a performer, the solitude of spending this length of time with strangers. i've been hyper-sensitive to reigning in my instinct of flight--for "the work"--trying to somehow see the ethereal and concrete alongside one another.

but then, i fucked up. i was too preoccupied about tending to "the work," that i was missing a key element in my flight response: my real life.

i'm still having trouble processing what happened to articulate it very well. i know that ideally, what happens in the work directly relates to "real life." the practice of that is difficult. even as i have been entering closer and closer into certain emotional vulnerabilities, i've also allowed for detachment and distance. detachment and distance can be healthy--sure. but these acts of detachment were hurtful. and i can't even account for them fully.

i just keep running away.

some might say it's the human condition to continuously repeat folly, despite full knowledge of it. but i don't believe that. i won't allow it. so how come i keep encountering this vicious repetition? how come i keep running away when all i want to do is go closer? even as i keep searching, the answer eludes me.


Corey Dargel said...

Perhaps one of the reasons you make art is to discover and share different ways of looking at life -- your life as well as other people's lives. It's hard to discover something new when you're too close to the subject. That's why I think it's healthy for an artist to engage with life and art separately. Commingling the two in real time may have the following negative effects:

1) It can limit your perspective and inhibit your judgment as an artist because there may be (should be?) different value systems for your behavior in life vs. your behavior in art.

2) It can alienate people you care about and cause them to mistrust you and stop confiding in you if they think you aren't aware of the boundaries between art and life.

But keep in mind that, while you should be loyal to the ones you love, they also should respect your work as an artist and give you the physical and emotional space to create when you need it.

Corey Dargel said...

Oh, and...

Making and sharing things that are beautiful, strange, and/or surprising may not have the immediate gratification of social activism, but it is an invaluable contribution to society. A society without art is not worth fighting for.

k. terumi shorb said...

thanks, corey. there is much wisdom in what you write. i think what i'm trying to do is see things on a more horizontal plane. i believe in the beautiful, surprising/strange. and i believe in social justice and the challenges of real life. i actually think that neither can really exist without informing the other. and i also believe there is a way to pursue both in an integral manner. i'm trying to find my version of doing that.

Corey Dargel said...


I have always believed that our ability to empathize with others is related to our ability to think and act creatively in the world. Perhaps that may be part of your horizontal plane? If you find an effective and rewarding way of integrating the immediacy of social activism with the reflectiveness of art-making, you will have to tell me the secret.

k. terumi shorb said...

indeed, i will, sweet corey.