Featured Artist #19: Suzon Fuks

Suzon Fuks

Fragmentation

 

Suzon Fuks is a Belgian-born and Australia-based dancer and choreographer. “Fragmentation” caught our attention because it is a performance piece, choreographed specifically for the camera, with a very strong narrative quality. We asked Suzon to tell us more about her background and creative interests, and how she worked with her “Fragmentation” collaborators:

"Fragmentation" has been partially made during a residency at Dance4, Nottingham, UK. Rob Tannion, James Cunningham and I were given time, space, equipment, and support to collaborate and reflect about our own creative development. We decided to work on the theme of fragmentation during these five weeks.

We started the process by interviewing each other about “what fragments our lives?” We fed each other by telling personal stories and describing situations we encountered in daily life. One of them was how, in the subway, amongst the crowd, people were making personal spaces, ramparts, by reading their newspaper or having mobile phone conversations. So we developed performative material with these two props. James and Rob were performing, and I was an outside eye, recording and proposing scores for improvisations. After each take, we were feedbacking about which moments felt strong and why they felt strong, in order to articulate and refine the material.

The context of the residency was fantastic: we didn’t have to have a public outcome, which was really liberating. Consequently, we generated so much material in the studio as well as outdoors! One part went into an installation performance presented for two days at the end of the residency, in order to see how audience would interact with the work, and also to get peer feedback.

The other part was stacks of recorded video and audio material, which slept in a drawer for five years. It’s only in 2007 that I revisited this footage and edited it. James then became the outside eye: questioning my editing decisions, encouraging me to be more drastic in the movement choices and the fragmenting of the frame itself.

The action of reading the newspaper, unfolding it, establishing its size, is often used in public space as a barrier, a protection, partitioning the space into a personal one, separating people, so they can dive into their own world. From their isolation and non-communication, little by little the deadly serious characters build a consensus by sharing space, using each other's bodies to become eventually one person with two heads and interlaced limbs, managing their various thoughts, dynamics. I like to suggest through the artwork but I do not intend to tell a story as such; I prefer that people connect with the images and the emotions, and elaborate their own narrative. I like hearing the audience laugh, directly participating in the action, entering the frame with their own perception, interpreting, as a means for them to be able to reflect upon their own lives and places.

My work is intrinsically experimental. My research is oriented on how to mesh the different artforms and how they inform each other. I am deeply committed to making and developing art that examines, reflects upon, and helps us survive in today’s disjointed worlds. Using the live body as a starting point, I focus on process, interaction, and diversity, compelled by small human gestures that are shared across cultures and that communicate and reveal the depth and complexity of our human experience. My practice is characterized by a holistic post-humanistic approach that focuses upon magnifying details, synthesizing wholes, collaborating, coordinating, weaving between extremes, playing with contrasts and emphasizing presence and space. Some samples can be seen on the IGNEOUS website. IGNEOUS is a company that I created in 1997 with James Cunningham.

My interest in performance for the camera comes from my performing arts and visual arts education. I discovered the camera when I was at La Cambre in Brussels, a school formed on the philosophy of the Bauhaus, examining how different artistic disciplines inform each other; La Cambre is where I completed my Masters in Visual Arts. The camera was a great tool to unify the performance and visual spaces and it allowed me to notice the dance of light: the light in perpetual motion, revealing what we see. The camera became like a pen: documenting but also writing and refining ideas, drawing the frame. At that time, it was a super8 film camera, with the tactile feel of cutting and pasting the celluloid in a linear fashion. With the digital reign, I became more and more interested in editing, which allows the designing of the space visually and auditively.

"Fragmentation" has been made for the camera, exploring its conic field, and the editing attempted to translate this field by redistributing it within the frame, which can move within itself, finding the depth within the bi-dimensional perimeter of the rectangle. It is very syntax oriented! I am interested in finding a grammar, a syntax, and styles in terms of writing the frame space and the conic space of the camera. In parallel, it could be also the music terminology: composition, harmony, counterpoint, and spatialization of the sound. I will be able to continue this research through a Fellowship received recently from the Australia Council for the Arts, Dance Board. I will start it in September this year by watching dormant footage accumulated over twenty-five to thirty years, then edit three new works, write a blog about my process and research, sharing my findings with people who will be able to comment. I will also visit screendance festivals in New York, UK, Amsterdam, and Banff, and will deepen the networked performance research that I started in 2003. "Screendance," alternatively called "videodance," is a genre made for the camera where movement is the primary expressive element in the work rather than dialogue (as in conventional narrative movies) or music (as in music videos). Screendance's definition is expanding to also include live performance, installation and the use of multiple and multi-dimensional screens. "Networked performance" is a performance event happening simultaneously in multiple spaces, including the Web, using telecommunication tools to link people and places.

This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

Illinois Arts Council Logo

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.