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 have interaction with areas. Her responses drift fluently between her work as motion practitioner and multimedia artist, to her work as an exhibitions’ curator. At the moment she is organizing a web based panel ‘What happens in the pause?’ as a part of the March Dance competition, to think about and advocate for the worth of relaxation and stillness inside inventive apply and dance, which is scheduled for March 5th 2023 and free to attend from wherever on the earth. 

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

Ira: I’m considering of it as a apply that doesn’t sit neatly or simply in anybody class. It’s extra porous and makes use of no matter medium or type 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 feel additionally it is my persona which causes me to wrestle with placing myself below 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 bop or making podcasts. However on the finish of the day, I really feel that each one these are in some way interrelated, though it’s virtually inconceivable to clarify how. I simply don’t see any specific distinction between them…They’re all means to an finish, I suppose.

Maxine: Do you prioritize any specific inventive type 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 somewhat talk about it by way of a ‘core medium’ – the one which every part comes from and returns to. And that core medium can be: the physique. The physique is on the middle of my explorations, and the software by means of which I encounter and have interaction with the world. It is because I grew up and developed by means of 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 means of which Ireally feel the world. So, even after I write, I write by means of 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 Improvement Residency 2022.

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

Ira: This can rely upon whether or not I work on a solo exhibition of 1 artist or a bunch present. After I work with a solo artist, I concentrate on bringing their imaginative and prescient to life. I’m centered on serving their voice, supporting them in constructing confidence by being within the room with them so that they have someone to bounce the concepts off, which is the method by means of 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 house. Group exhibits are completely different as a result of they begin with me establishing a theme that I’d prefer to discover, and I curate the artists round it. As an illustration, one of many exhibitions I’ve accomplished was known as, Contact is the Mom of all Senses, and it appeared on the approach 2D or 3D pictures can have a tactile sense, so we really feel them on the proximity of our our bodies, virtually as if brushing in opposition to our pores and skin. In these sorts of ‘thematic exhibitions’, I’ve a bit more room to specific my very own concepts or inventive pursuits, and I consider the gallery house as a canvas that I work with, and I convey artists and artworks into that house so as to add colours or shapes to that canvas. And so, I see these thematic group exhibitions as one massive set up and if they’re profitable, they received’t really feel like group exhibits in any respect however have a way of cohesion, so it appears like a piece of just one artist.

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

Ira: Hm, apparently I virtually really feel the query to be useless, which suggests: why wouldn’t they? , as artists all that we attempt to do is make one thing that’s not readily seen on the earth, seen by means of a metaphoric expression. And what we use to do this ought to actually be open. I don’t see any must hone in on one specific medium. That appears very stifling for creativity, truly. Unnecessarily inflexible. 

Maxine: Relating to your personal gallery-shows – exhibitions of your personal works – do you at all times have dwell 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 means of the physique, after we change off the very colonizing Western units akin to clocks. And I did contemplate together with a dwell 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 involved in, however it was not including something to what I used to be wanting to specific so it could be forceful and accomplished just for the sake of leisure, which isn’t what I used to be going for. So no, I don’t at all times have dwell 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 generally that’s the dwell physique. And on this case, the presence of the physique was nonetheless there, however 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: While you say ‘bodily supplies’, I instantly consider the house 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 notice of this interconnection, is environmentally crucial and pressing.

I’ve additionally found that after we all know the house – this bodily container inside which we transfer – as soon as it’s acquainted, we have a tendency to maneuver in it in recurring methods which restrict our notion and the potential of in any other case. That is one thing I’m involved in difficult. I’m involved in pushing the boundary of creativeness that we create by means of habits. On the similar time, I do know that this restrict is a really arduous shell to interrupt, troublesome 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 illustration, I as Ira can solely transfer in sure methods, not simply due to the actual coaching I’ve accomplished but additionally as a result of my physique is constructed as a specific sort of construction. However I’m nonetheless involved in 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. Every thing that I do – and I feel all of us do – is a lineage; nothing actually is an unique thought. It’s lovely and one thing to be celebrated. We’re at all times 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 means of movement-artist and educational Lian Loke who I imagine 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 way in which we organize issues on the earth, so this time period resonated with me by way of curating artwork exhibitions in a approach that’s centered 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 way in which the artworks are ‘learn’ by positioning them in a specific approach inside the house.

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 inside 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 means of positioning artworks in sure methods. After which on the similar time, as curators we additionally choreograph actions by means of the house. We create sure pathways by means of which the works shall be skilled, which is the order wherein the works are encountered. And this additionally impacts the notion – the work that you’ve seen simply earlier than will have an effect on the way in which that you simply see the subsequent work. I wish to empower the viewer to know that their notion is being indirectly manipulated; and in the event that they grow to be conscious of that, then they will additionally query that or attempt to break by means of that. It’s not that this manipulation is destructive. It’s our job to create sure sort of phenomenological expertise and there may be intentionality behind it. There may be nothing incorrect with that, it’s simply that I would love the viewers to take heed to that, so they aren’t simply puppets on the finish of the string.

Maxine: Might you inform us a bit concerning the improvement of the e-book SPACE BODY HABIT and a few workout routines provided within the e-book?

Ira: The e-book was an consequence of a two-week residency that I had accomplished with fellow artist Elia Bosshard at a inventive house known as Frontyard right here in Sydney. Initially we didn’t intend to write down the e-book however needed to develop a workshop-model across the ways in which we habitually use areas, and methods to problem that. Every day of our residency began with a specific train we’ve got invented and led one another by means of, after which on the finish of the train we’d have a dialogue. We audio recorded the entire period of the residency – as a result of I’ve a compulsion to report sounds – and so we had this materials which in the long run we felt could also be price 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 means of the house eight occasions, every time specializing in a special sense or being led by a special a part of the physique, akin to the highest of the pinnacle or an elbow. After which the eighth stroll is an invite to stroll the house as soon as once more, however this time very slowly, virtually unnaturally gradual, spending a number of time deliberating the place to go subsequent…This was aimed toward highlighting that second after 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 concerning the house if we shock ourselves in the way in which we use it. On the finish of this train, we had a extremely wealthy dialogue on the distinction between impulse, behavior, intuition, and instinct; whether or not they’re considerably synonymous or truly completely different.

One other train that I’d like to focus on, as a result of it was possibly my favourite one, is named Yesterday’s pathways, provided by my colleague and co-author Elia Bosshard. It’s a quite simple train that asks you to attract the trail you took by means of the house the day earlier than, from the second you’ve arrived to the second you’ve left, which might be 5 hours of your time. You’re requested to retrace the entire journey by means of the house and its surrounding during 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 means of the house… In making these traces, you come to a micro stage of that larger motion that you simply’ve made together with your physique the day earlier than; even the issues like going exterior 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 stage of A4 paper to current that on…So it’s very delicate, however very strongly embodied.

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

Ira: Um, effectively, I’ve nothing to match it with so it’s arduous to talk of it by way of specific geographical context, however after I communicate to my Croatian buddies, lots of whom are artists, all of us communicate of similar struggles, which is often funding and lack of cash, lack of help, doing heaps totally free, a number of volunteering work. Generally investing our personal cash into issues. And after 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 durations that seem as pauses. They don’t seem to be seen as work, however in actuality every part occurs in these invisible moments. When you go and sit by the pc to write down 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 accomplished. You simply put it on the market. However all these tortuous weeks of arising and clarifying the concept in your head – that’s simply seen as nothing. And it’s one thing that pursuits me of late. How will we communicate to establishments about that, so that they understand there’s a lot work accomplished in these moments of pause?

Be taught extra about Ira’s work at