Right before it all happened at the opera, we had a chance to catch up with Anne Juren, to talk more in depth – whatever that means to you. To us it means taking some time out to ask the questions that really got us interested in her practice, questions to which we both find answers in Annes art but also in this little text/interview thingy. ENJOY
E T S: OK, Anne, Maybe this questions is a really vast one, but maybe it can make out a good starting point. What, in your thinking, is the capacity of imagination?
A J: I think there is an understanding of imagination of something that is not concrete. However imagination produces a lot, and lets say, there is an action there – a potential for an action, that I am looking for. I don’t know yet what it is.
I am thinking of the situation when you are stuck somewhere: what if you don’t have your imagination in order to produce an escape? You will be stuck. This will be the condition that someone or something puts you in.
Imagination is the only place of inventing something that doesn’t exist, doesn’t need to be produced ,doesn’t need to exist, that still produces an action towards something new. Its not like a commodity, something you could sell or buy, but its there – only as a potential.
E T S: Language theorists and psychoanalysis suggests that imagination is what is later producing the reality that we meet through language. I am also trying to connect here with the title of your work “ Studies on fantasmatical anatomies“ – the idea of phantasma, the child of imagination, what imagination produces – what later is how we measure what we see when we meet the world, does this look like I imagined it?
A J: Basically its also to say that everything is representation.
I mean, we can take the ground we stand on, we think that something is solid. Because we named it solid, we believe it to be that. But its of course a social construction in play here.
This is concrete, this is solid, let’s agree on that. But there is nothing true about it.
So lets take it for granted that its solid.
What I am trying to say is that imagination is not something out of the social, but it is something that has a potential to change to the social. So, basically imagination is more as a space for expansion. Its more of an attention to life – rather than an effort: You open up to feel something that is not recognisable, neither graspable, haha – its very poetic what I am saying.
E T S: Yes it is very poetic what you are saying! Its of course always a constant struggle to assign some kind of language to the nameless …
AJ: Yes language is an apparatus. Language is the oldest apparatus.
E T S: Voila
AJ: An iphone is an apparatus, a bed is an apparatus, and language is another apparatus. And there is no truth in any of these in themselves. In language there is a fiction, phantasma, and disappearance by itself. We have to create place where this – imagination – can be living by itself. Something like that. This kind of potential does something to you. And not like an action towards something else. The project and the research is about expanding this platform and to invade other fields as much as possible. Maybe the social field, maybe the public field, maybe the performance field. But its complicated, because each time I grasp to much of the project, it doesn’t function anymore.
E T S: And what does that non-function feel like? Is it sliding? Slipping? Diminishing?
AJ: Its more like its sliding and slipping. Its really more something that do. Its not vanishing. You watch “IT” slipping, therefor there is an action with a big potential here.
I am now doing this (practice) in many different different contexts. My work is to see how far I can go with it.
When does the moment comes where another person can escape from it, the situation? If you go for your phantasma: let’s say your sexual fantasy, ongoing, the pure, the huge one, perversion – what is acceptable – then you enter the political field – “this is legal, this is not okay, this is not ethical. Don’t do this to me” – then you touch the political in the sense.
So for me its quite interesting to work with my fantasy. Because I realise that it slides easily out the field of correctness, out of concreteness and also reality. So I have to pull it back – so its a game with pulling it back to see what its possible. Then you experiment, then you make art. This to me is making art. Where else could you do this except for in the arts?
E T S: But also, ehm, it also serves as a very good foundation for practice: rather than putting out ready made things. As you describe, the moment you assign language or form to it, it starts to slip, which then would mean it has be ongoing and constantly re-negotiated.
AJ: Yes it has be something going on. Lots of practice, lots of reading, lots of curiosity, you have to be fully curious, you have be fully curious about everything, whatever comes to you mind, through your life. You have to take it all in and navigate through it. Its something that I really feel now, since working on this for almost 3 years, that my acceptance for this is almost scary – therefor its an act of resistance. You offer a possibility – a possibility of clear view, to opinion, when you say, but, yeah.
E T S: In the sense that “studies on fantasmatical anatomies” is a practice, yet, its also something that is offered to an audience. And if we would give you a big black sign where you could post this offer, what would the sign say?
AJ: I will say this, its a bit reducing, but its a real place of meeting. We will meet, profoundly, somewhere we yet does not know. But, its not a place of celebration, so I might be awkward. It does not celebrate, neither the body, neither the beauty of the text, neither the theatre as the place to be, it doesn’t celebrate art. But it uses all this tools, sure, its creative. So, yeah, so its a place where someone could experience her body as something else, so in this space you are the other. So there will be an otherness in the experience, maybe it belongs to a entity that I don’t recognize that I don’t yet know. I could articulate that it could propose a future for the body – that is not yet there. But (!) its very concrete. Its placed on the real body, I mean I am a dancer so I use all my knowledge of kinaesthetics and anatomical background to expand all this knowledges. I doesn’t come from nowhere!
E T S: There is no doubt about the body being the starting point. In your idea of the body, seemingly, it doesn’t really stop at with the physical. In your idea, what do you see as possible borders of the body?
AJ: I don’t see the borders.
We can recognize the skin as a border of the body, its defined.
But I will say this, if we don’t see this, what is it then?
Of course we perceive differences, its the way we orient ourselves. Left and right for instance. Its implemented in our system where we have the desire, the body desires an idea of symmetry. Therefor there is a limitation. I will propose this limitation to be perceived, sensed but for it to remain nameless. Then – how can we sense this limitation, when there is no left and right?
So its a bit like this Alicia Clark, organic line. Where its like its putting this so far out that actually you look into it, you fall into it, and it redefines left and right. So afterwards you stand up, and you don’t know, what is this left and right and why I would need it? Even the idea?
But also its so inscribed and so used, and thats a beauty in this. It has such a history, it has a such a strong desire this left and right.
E T S: Yes but its also a reduction of dimensions
AJ: I was trying to write the text for this showing without interpucntation, commas, without left and right, without signifiers of orientation. To never say move your left shoulder, but then, I had no language. Only negative language. That you never really express the positives, only what is around it. But it becomes such an obscure language. It just becomes really difficult. There is just no space for inefficiency. Its like the metaphor of garbage: when you take it out, you don’t think about it anymore, but somewhere it appears again. Garbage is there all the time. And somehow, we know it. It has history.
In a way its almost like expanding this body which is not here and now, but maybe its her, now there, now, then and in the future.
Its extremely metaphoric what I say.
E T S: Yep, but why not?
AJ: At this one moment I was really anti metaphors, but we are metaphors. And whatever we express is metaphors. You know.
E T S: An image that is representing what is possibly behind the image – if there is anything.
AJ: So now, for this festival (END FEST) I will propose this text which is like a skeleton of the whole research. Where it propose almost a body, but yet its a raw material, yes, you have a certain notion of orientation to start with, but it will disappear, and you won’t care. You don’t need it anymore. You don’t need left and right to lie down. And then after there will be some kind of part that will be expanded, so the opera house will fall into the body. It does not concretely say this or explain this, this metaphor, but its quite possible that it will happens.
And all this what I call the skeleton, because now I am tracking back the organs, the body parts, tracking historically speaking, different countries, so its almost functions like a survey of how the liver was perceived in jesus christ time. What was the representation of it, and what was the imagination of it then?
E T S: One thing that seemingly makes this hard to pen down – what this is about – is that we are here operating in between the imagined body and the experienced body – you speak on the liver, and in almost the same sentence you talk about the opera house falling into you.
AJ: Yes, yes. Yeah, I say the skeleton because, as if, you have something that is dead. It doesn’t yet have any agency, but it does transport a history. Here we are now, in this room, our body is not our, but it transports so much history. And so many deaths, so much living, desires, psychology, freud was here, then delueze, and before that platon. We are not innocent from all this, we transport it somehow, in a certain way, more or less in different degrees. The skeleton does trouble because it proposes to much. Your liver is not yours because its hers. Its ours basically. Because we created it. We created the image of it, the image we wanted. For yet already it troubles a bit this belonging. There is a lot of privatization Everything now is this “your”- your clothes, your body, your apartment, your door. This is not a judgement, it just create a certain attention to the space. Why you close the door? This is a question.
E T S: Is there a point for you to collectivize this ritual, in the sense that the theatre is this space that needs to be filled with something, has this really strong desire for rituals. You bring in some kind of a ritual leader, a bunch of people who is to take part in this ritual. This question is also to be understood in the context of these practices, dealing with other peoples bodies are usually conducted one to one, rather than in a group, speaking about medicine basically. How do you see this?
AJ: I mean its a nice problem. The theatre, I am sure you also share this. But it is my field you know, I started so young, I was five.
E T S: Did you do the whole ballet-thing?
AJ: No I did contemporary, I was in a company for young people.
E T S: We don’t mind leaving it out if you don’t want this to be a bio piece, just let us know.
AJ: No I don’t mind, I mean, the project swallows this, swallows all my experiences.
E T S: Of course, your history is not really your history, its our history
AJ: Yes and, in a way like, its again this kind of borders and limits. Why not to talk about medical organs, in the theatre? To me this is really a dance piece. Like really a dance piece. It does move the body in a specific way, sometimes awkward, it does propose an idea of movement, which is a potential. The dancing here is a potential. Its an idea of …
E T S: Have you ever been to the anatomical theatre in uppsala?
A J: Noooooo, what is this?
E T S: Its a really old lecture hall in Uppsala, where they used for anatomical studies. Its structured like a really steep full circle theatre and the teachers had very much of a performance practice, a bit like you would imagine Charcot at Salpetriare, but still with the difference that this was very much about the body and specific organs.
A J: Wow, that sounds, yes, lets go there!
E T S: Hey Anne, We know also that you have work to do (this is a few hours before the first show), and also, if er are going to have any chance of typing this up, transcribing it, maybe we should try to end here somewhere. However, there is one more thing we would like to ask you
E T S: And this might feel a bit taken out the blue yeah? But ok, here goes:
What does it feel to be eaten?
AJ: I mean like, hmm, I don’t know yet. I was never eaten. First, It (the practice) doesn’t eat the whole body, it eats a part of it. So its yet not the full disappearance of the body. There will be another place where the body will be eaten to the end. So I think it does this.
So I will say this. It quite scary. It does create a sensation of gore, but I think its a strong desire, a desire of possibility. But also of non existence as a potential, again, of life. Haha, its huge!
Also, being eaten is observed differently in totally different places. In western countries we abolished it and its seen as a transgression of our common values, yes, but in other tribal cultures to be eaten is an honour.
I think its an act of love. In a way we are already eaten. Its already a part of us. So I think being eaten is not so dramatic, because you know you will come out.
E T S: These are the two best quotes ever, we are going to put them together. What does it feel like to be eaten: first “Its quite scary” and then “But its not so dramatic”. Thats a conclusion, like seriously that’s a wrap. This are stated facts and can not be discussed.
And from here we start a discussion on castration, but thats another text and a part of a future research.
ANNE JUREN – Thank you and bisou