MEET THE PERFORMERS: 5 QUESTIONS
Performer in Hybrid 2, Nov 2 & 3, 2013
What training systems, teachers, or other experiences have contributed to the way you perform, and how you think about performing?
Sara Mann composes images in a pretty staggering way, and it has brought me back to a very curiosity-driven, very open-ended way of TRYING anything and everything. I practice making like Sara. She follows her sense of clarity, and it doesn’t often follow logic or trend or narrative. Sara uses imagistic nuances of connection and association in a very deep and mystical way. Working with her is incredible training.
I also like aerobics. I like doing hard and repetitive things that feel athletic and punchy. it brings me back from a strange ether that i often occupy when I’m making. And it let’s me play with simple systems of pushing my body. I like letting it show when something is hard, or joyful, or confusing, when I perform.
Amara Tabor Smith is another maker who guides how I perform. Amara often performs for dead people, and I find this to be really useful. For me, there’s just so much ancestor spirit action, swirling around everything we do, so it’s very useful and purposeful to just connect to someone who might not be right “there,” and let yourself be an appropriate channel for them. I find that every time I perform (which is a lot lately), I can easily find intense purpose, if I just let the dead folks in.
I have found great teachers in Meg Stuart, Keith Hennessy, and Robert Steijn.
Lastly, my recent collaborator, Laura Arrington, and I were working in an old gymnasium out at Headlands Center for the Arts, this past spring, and we were doing all these really slight and specific presence exercises; playing with doing nothing, etc. And at one point, she said to me: “Don’t manage anything.” This has been with me since. The practice of not managing anything, while still executing scores in a performance…..is powerful. Try it.
What are you currently reading, listening to, and/or watching?
I am reading GENTRIFICATION OF THE MIND because I am in a book group and we’re meeting this Monday to discuss this book! It’s pretty engrossing so far. I’m somehow allergic to scholarly tones in writing, and Sarah Schulman is keeping me interested in what she thinks. I’m listening to the pandora station of Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! and I’m watching about 3 different reality TV shows on the internets!
What is your favorite thing to cook and eat right now?
Oh my god I love cooking. My partner is so good at making soft scrambled eggs, and he has recently taught me some of his flair, so my recent fave is soft scrambled eggs with roasted broccoli, parmesan, and shit ton of black pepper. I’m also in a braising phase, so I braise a lot of pork shoulders, briskets, things like this. I am concurrently getting very clear and very serious about my favorite things to go out and eat, because I am very busy and I kind of just want to know that my eat-out food is really good. And this is what I proclaim are the best things to eat out in San Francisco:
- the hunan smoked ham and green beans from Henry’s in Noe Valley – $8
- the karahi paneer rolls at Kasa in the castro – $4.50
- the caesar burger from Super Duper Burger (sounds gross, I know, but it’s so good!) – $5.95
- the thrice cooked bacon and rice dumplings from Mission Chinese. magical. – $12
- the smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise from Bar Tartine (fancy!) – $9
LIVE LIFE, CHILDREN! EAT THESE MIRACLES.
What is one thing working with Sara has taught you?
One thing working with Sara has taught me is that my power can be beautiful.
What is/are your day job(s)? Besides actually feeding you, how do(es) it/they feed your life in performance?
I do a lot of things for money. A lot of people have seen me in a few movies, a lot of people have been served various breakfast foods by me, and within the arts, I teach and curate and perform in other people’s work…all beyond my main thrust, which is making my own work. I dont actually know what effect the piecemeal nature of my economic reality is on me and my work. Knowing that would require stepping outside of it, and that’s a privilege I don’t have. I have often thought that my service job keeps me humble, keeps me hungry/angry, keeps me necessarily low to the ground. But lately I’m not so sure. There are a lot of class implications in making the kind of art that I make, and a whole other set of class implications in waiting tables. And it’s hard to know how and when to identify with which, because what I CANNOT manage to do is to be only half there, when I’m at any of these “jobs.” It’s tricky. I don’t know how this story pans out. Or even how I want it to pan out. I think that I am well and lucky. And I think that our economy’s grip on our cultural premiums is a grim grim tragedy. That’s what I think for now.
5 questions from Jennie MaryTai Liu
Jesse Hewit – Photo by Robbie Sweeny, in Peter by Sara Shelon Mann