Much of your work is concerned with creating intimate encounters with audience members. For Liveworks 2016, you are creating a new intimate one-on-one encounter called Cleansing Service. What is it about intimacy with strangers that interests you?
Collaborating with audiences through performance always interests me. Encounters with strangers create organic possibilities and understanding of human situations. What is weird [at the same time] is that I normally have problems socialising with people. Yes, we might call it social phobia. That is my motivation for creating one-on-one performance, because I feel more comfortable with strangers and myself in this type of situation.
The intimacy in the form of one-on-one performance forces both the audience member and I not to be acting. Without the theatrical condition, we need to be real, or at least try to reveal the real. That’s also why the performance is more of an ‘encounter’ rather than theatre.
Many of these intimate encounters happen in a public way – in your previous work Kiss It Better, the encounter happens amongst a crowd of onlookers. In Cleansing Service, the encounter is situated in the very visible Carriageworks Public Space. Can you talk about the relationship between the public and private in your work?
It’s interesting to see how audiences react and perform in one-on-one situations.
In Kiss It Better, the boundary between the public and private is ambiguous; as a person needs to tell something personal in public but at the same time experiences an intimacy.
Cleansing Service will be located in a public space and the performance space will be surrounded by transparent fabrics, where people can vaguely see the performance outside. The intimacy is exposed.
I am performing, but the audience also performs; both the participant inside and the viewer outside. For me, the boundary between the public and private very often remains not well-defined and that’s foregrounded in this performance form.
What is the most memorable (or strangest) encounter you’ve had during a performance?
In Kiss It Better, a man came to me with a hug, saying he really had felt better after the kiss, even though he didn’t treat the interaction seriously during the performance. I also remember that many times, some people were moved to tears when receiving the kiss. I didn’t ask why.
What can audiences expect during Cleansing Service?
I don’t know what will happen yet – at the very least the audience can come to be washed if their bathrooms aren’t working…