“I reminded myself to trust my intuition and the process”, Saffy speaks of her time at Cove Park Residential Weekend.
Written by Saffy Setohy, (working in association with The Work Room) in Jan 2018
I arrived at Cove Park with eager ears, and a feeling of curiosity and excitement, keen to know more about what I have signed up for. As conversations unfolded, some interesting tensions arose. One that still sticks, is the expectation to make something that speaks of, has relevance to, a particular place, yet will also tour and be relevant to those places and communities. Speaking practically, it feels a different ask to make something site and place specific and located, to something which is going to tour.
I ask myself, what makes a place? It is landscape, people, non-human species, memories, histories, stories, textures, sounds, images. The performance event is also a place in itself, a social space, a gathering. Where are the common grounds? How to keep space for specificity and difference there too?
The other artists seemed to have a very clear idea of what they are going to make- I had a scrawl of slightly disparate threads of interest in my notebook, and some words and desires that may eventually lead to an artistic manifesto of sorts. Slight anxiety- but I reminded myself to trust my intuition and the process. This ‘unknowing’ is always part of it.
The idea of maintaining artistic integrity came up- not making work ‘for the market’ but finding out where and how the meeting points between your ideas and an audiences desires can speak to each other. Perhaps part of the key to this, is in language.Someone remarked that
audiences don’t have language for things they don’t understand.
I am reminded that art can offer new languages, meanings, understandings. I reflect that whilst the promoter undoubtedly knows their community well, they are one voice within it. Perhaps there are interests and tastes that have not yet been articulated in their community
perhaps it is part of the artists job to help offer up these new possibilities?
Listening to the different contexts that the promoters live in, was inspiring. They are all very different in terms of population, cultural life, the environment itself. However there is a common theme around the felt risk to the promoter. The artist comes and goes- the promoter is committed to living in that place and community. They feel their reputation is at stake. I reflect that however fleeting the moment of contact with a place, the artist offers an experience which leaves a residue.
Which kind of residue do you wish to leave?
What is its tone, what ripples might it create?
Do an audience even want it to create ripples?
What is at stake for them?
There are also risks for the artist, but I guess that is part of our currency. So how do we hold hands with it and dance with it, taking the promoter and audiences with us?
Photo taken by Saffy