In Moments of Pause: A Q&A with Dance Artist Ira Ferris

Phrases by Maxine Flasher-Düzgünes

A number of weeks in the past, I shared a dialog with Sydney-based dance and curatorial artist Ira Ferris, co-Director of an arts collective Artemis Projects, who create between Europe and Australia. Ferris is co-author of the e book SPACE BODY HABIT, which explores the brand new methods to expertise and interact with areas. Her responses drift fluently between her work as motion practitioner and multimedia artist, to her work as an exhibitions’ curator. Presently she is organizing a web-based panel ‘What happens in the pause?’ as a part of the March Dance pageant, to think about and advocate for the worth of relaxation and stillness inside inventive follow and dance, which is scheduled for March 5th 2023 and free to attend from anyplace on this planet. 

Maxine: How do you outline interdisciplinarity in your inventive follow?  

Ira: I’m pondering of it as a follow that doesn’t sit neatly or simply in anyone class. It’s extra porous and makes use of no matter medium or kind or self-discipline is on the market to specific concepts or ideas. I don’t regard myself as an professional in any of the kinds – nor do I attempt to that – however extra as an explorer and a researcher. I believe additionally it is my character which causes me to battle with placing myself underneath a label or inside a class. I get bored specializing in one factor or working in a single self-discipline for too lengthy, or too intensely. As an illustration, I’ll be a author for some time, however then I’ll want a break from that, so I’ll flip extra intensely to bounce or making podcasts. However on the finish of the day, I really feel that each one these are someway interrelated, though it’s nearly unimaginable to clarify how. I simply don’t see any explicit distinction between them…They’re all means to an finish, I suppose.

Maxine: Do you prioritize any explicit inventive kind in your work – amongst them being dance, poetry, sound and video?

Ira: I’d not use the phrase ‘prioritize’ as a result of it appears too unique, in addition to too aware or intentional, whereas what I do is much less so. I’d reasonably talk about it by way of a ‘core medium’ – the one which every little thing comes from and returns to. And that core medium could be: the physique. The physique is on the heart of my explorations, and the device by which I encounter and interact with the world. It is because I grew up and developed by dance; it’s one thing that I began training and coaching in after I was 5 and did for 15 youth of my life. So, after I introduce myself, I wish to say that I’m a ‘dancer’, even when I work in a special medium on the time. However dance is the lens by which Ireally feel the world. So, even after I write, I write by the prism of dance. And this isn’t as a result of I consciously prioritize that, however as a result of it’s actually on the core of who and the way I’m.

Ira Ferris with Lily Alcock, Kirsten Packham, Catherine McNamara – in Lux Eterna’s The eighth Day, March Dance Growth Residency 2022.

Maxine: You even have experiences as a curator, and I believe that’s a really fascinating gateway in direction of merging loads of these fields. What’s your thought course of behind curating displays? 

Ira: This can rely on whether or not I work on a solo exhibition of 1 artist or a gaggle present. Once I work with a solo artist, I give attention to bringing their imaginative and prescient to life. I’m targeted on serving their voice, supporting them in constructing confidence by being within the room with them so that they have any person to bounce the concepts off, which is the method by which they make clear their very own ideas and intentions. After which possibly I’m going to be giving them suggestions, as somebody who’s faraway from the work and may see the fuller image. And I’ll suggest optimum methods to current their work, their concepts, within the area. Group reveals are totally different as a result of they begin with me organising a theme that I’d wish to discover, and I curate the artists round it. As an illustration, one of many exhibitions I’ve achieved was referred to as, Contact is the Mom of all Senses, and it appeared on the approach 2D or 3D photos can have a tactile sense, so we really feel them on the proximity of our our bodies, nearly as if brushing in opposition to our pores and skin. In these sorts of ‘thematic exhibitions’, I’ve a bit extra space to specific my very own concepts or inventive pursuits, and I consider the gallery area as a canvas that I work with, and I convey artists and artworks into that area so as to add colours or shapes to that canvas. And so, I see these thematic group exhibitions as one giant set up and if they’re profitable, they received’t really feel like group reveals in any respect however have a way of cohesion, so it seems like a piece of just one artist.

Maxine: How do you assume numerous mediums of artwork can exist collectively in an area?

Ira: Hm, curiously I nearly really feel the query to be unnecessary, which suggests: why wouldn’t they? You already know, as artists all that we try to do is make one thing that’s not readily seen on this planet, seen by a metaphoric expression. And what we use to try this ought to actually be open. I don’t see any must hone in on one explicit medium. That appears very stifling for creativity, truly. Unnecessarily inflexible. 

Maxine: On the subject of your individual gallery-shows – exhibitions of your individual works – do you all the time have reside efficiency as a part of it? Or is that depending on the piece?

Ira: Yeah, completely dependent. As an illustration, latest exhibition of my work – time, circles, and pure rhythms – was a video, poetry, mixed-media exhibition that explored methods we will measure time by the physique, once we change off the very colonizing Western gadgets resembling clocks. And I did take into account together with a reside efficiency ingredient, however I needed to let go of that as a result of it simply didn’t serve the work. It was arduous to drag again as a result of gallery-performance is one thing that I’m fairly excited about, nevertheless it was not including something to what I used to be wanting to specific so it could be forceful and achieved just for the sake of leisure, which isn’t what I used to be going for. So no, I don’t all the time have reside performances as a part of it, which once more speaks to that factor: I solely use the medium that serves the idea on the time. So typically that’s the reside physique. And on this case, the presence of the physique was nonetheless there, nevertheless it was on display screen. 

Ira Ferris in time, circles, and pure rhythms_2021

Maxine: What have you ever found in your inventive work with bodily supplies? 

Ira: Whenever you say ‘bodily supplies’, I instantly consider the area or the atmosphere the physique strikes in, and with. What I found is that the location and the atmosphere have an effect on the physique and the physique impacts the location. We’re very delicate to the location, to what surrounds us, and the location is delicate to us – whether or not we’re conscious of this or not. Making works that convey us again to the attention of this interconnection, is environmentally obligatory and pressing.

I’ve additionally found that after we all know the area – this bodily container inside which we transfer – as soon as it’s acquainted, we have a tendency to maneuver in it in ordinary methods which restrict our notion and the potential for in any other case. That is one thing I’m excited about difficult. I’m excited about pushing the boundary of creativeness that we create by habits. On the identical time, I do know that this restrict is a really arduous shell to interrupt, tough to increase, as a result of on the finish of the day even the physique itself is a body, and a comparatively inflexible one. So as an example, I as Ira can solely transfer in sure methods, not simply due to the actual coaching I’ve achieved but additionally as a result of my physique is constructed as a selected type of construction. However I’m nonetheless excited about questioning how far can I push that edge; how a lot can I problem the given restrict, which can also be a restrict to creativeness. 

Maxine: Are you able to elaborate in your work with somaesthetics. Is that this a time period that you simply’ve coined or a lineage? 

Ira: Completely a lineage. All the pieces that I do – and I believe all of us do – is a lineage; nothing actually is an unique thought. It’s lovely and one thing to be celebrated. We’re all the time within the lineage of lecturers and mentors which have shared with us their knowledges. And this one is one thing that I’ve encountered by movement-artist and educational Lian Loke who I consider makes use of it from Professor Richard Shusterman. I’m not an professional on this time period, and I could also be utilizing it in ways in which Professor Shusterman didn’t intend, however ‘soma’ means ‘physique’ and ‘aesthetics’ is the best way we organize issues on this planet, so this time period resonated with me by way of curating artwork exhibitions in a approach that’s targeted on the phenomenology of the expertise. How as curators we organize or design or curate an area in a approach that results the physique of the customer – their senses and their notion. We affect the best way the artworks are ‘learn’ by positioning them in a selected approach throughout the area.

If you place them in a different way, the entire that means adjustments. It’s much like altering the order of sentences within the textual content, or phrases throughout the sentence. If we shift the order, the entire that means of the textual content adjustments, and that’s what we’re doing in areas by positioning artworks in sure methods. After which on the identical time, as curators we additionally choreograph actions by the area. We create sure pathways by which the works will likely be skilled, which is the order during which the works are encountered. And this additionally impacts the notion – the work that you’ve got seen simply earlier than will have an effect on the best way that you simply see the following work. I wish to empower the viewer to know that their notion is being indirectly manipulated; and in the event that they develop into conscious of that, then they’ll additionally query that or attempt to break by that. It’s not that this manipulation is unfavorable. It’s our job to create sure type of phenomenological expertise and there’s intentionality behind it. There may be nothing flawed with that, it’s simply that I would love the viewers to take heed to that, so they don’t seem to be simply puppets on the finish of the string.

Maxine: May you inform us a bit in regards to the improvement of the e book SPACE BODY HABIT and a few workouts supplied within the e book?

Ira: The e book was an end result of a two-week residency that I had achieved with fellow artist Elia Bosshard at a inventive area referred to as Frontyard right here in Sydney. Initially we didn’t intend to put in writing the e book however needed to develop a workshop-model across the ways in which we habitually use areas, and how one can problem that. Every day of our residency began with a selected train we’ve got invented and led one another by, after which on the finish of the train we’d have a dialogue. We audio recorded the entire length of the residency – as a result of I’ve a compulsion to document sounds – and so we had this materials which ultimately we felt could also be value sharing with others, so we transcribed it into the e book. One train was, unsurprisingly, impressed by [German theatre practitioner] Bertolt Brecht, who was all about breaking the social conditionings and establishment, and the political potential of that. This train is named Eight walks (perceptions and selections) and it invitations you to stroll the identical pathway by the area eight instances, every time specializing in a special sense or being led by a special a part of the physique, resembling the highest of the pinnacle or an elbow. After which the eighth stroll is an invite to stroll the area as soon as once more, however this time very slowly, nearly unnaturally sluggish, spending a number of time deliberating the place to go subsequent…This was geared toward highlighting that second once we make selections, and maybe not following the primary impulse or first intuition, however giving ourselves a while – therefore, slowness – to decide on in any other case and see what that results in, how that makes us really feel and what we uncover in regards to the area if we shock ourselves in the best way we use it. On the finish of this train, we had a very wealthy dialogue on the distinction between impulse, behavior, intuition, and instinct; whether or not they’re considerably synonymous or truly totally different.

One other train that I’d like to spotlight, as a result of it was possibly my favourite one, is named Yesterday’s pathways, supplied by my colleague and co-author Elia Bosshard. It’s a quite simple train that asks you to attract the trail you took by the area the day earlier than, from the second you’ve arrived to the second you’ve left, which could possibly be 5 hours of your time. You’re requested to retrace the entire journey by the area and its surrounding in the course of these 5 hours the day earlier than. I like this train as a result of it actually connects you to your muscle reminiscence. As you draw the traces, you’re deeply in your physique feeling and reliving the sensations of motion by the area… In making these traces, you come to a micro degree of that greater motion that you simply’ve made together with your physique the day earlier than; even the issues like going outdoors of the constructing to get lunch and coming again down the streets and getting in once more. You’re remembering these actions however you’re solely utilizing this micro degree of A4 paper to current that on…So it’s very delicate, however very strongly embodied.

Maxine: What’s it like working throughout the artwork scene of Sydney? 

Ira: Um, nicely, I’ve nothing to check it with so it’s arduous to talk of it by way of explicit geographical context, however after I converse to my Croatian mates, lots of whom are artists, all of us converse of identical struggles, which is normally funding and lack of cash, lack of assist, doing heaps without spending a dime, a number of volunteering work. Generally investing our personal cash into issues. And once we do receives a commission, it’s insignificant sum of money. As an illustration, as a author you get $100 to $300 for a textual content you’ve spent weeks on. As a result of it’s not simply the time spent sitting over the pc typing the textual content, however all of the hours spent staring on the horizon and percolating concepts – these invisible moments of labor that we do as artists, in intervals that seem as pauses. They aren’t seen as work, however in actuality every little thing occurs in these invisible moments. When you go and sit by the pc to put in writing a textual content or go to the studio to make the work, that’s the tip a part of the method. That’s when the work is already achieved. You simply put it on the market. However all these tortuous weeks of arising and clarifying the thought in your head – that’s simply seen as nothing. And it’s one thing that pursuits me of late. How can we converse to establishments about that, so that they understand there’s a lot work achieved in these moments of pause?

Be taught extra about Ira’s work at