interview by liamei12345


									                  Interview with Phil Babot

        In order to further and deepen my understanding of issues relating to my
practice I held an interview with performance artiest Phil Babbot as a form of
research. The transcript of this interview is below.
                    Interview with Phil Babot
The following three questions will touch on three separate elements crucial to a
large portion of performance art work; these elements are ‘Repetition’,
‘Endurance’ and ‘Authenticity’. Can you discuss these elements both in terms of
your work and in terms of how they fit in with the understanding you have of
shamanism in performance art.

1) Neil Jefferies- I personally think one of the most potent elements a
performance artist can utilise in a performance is that of repartition, were an
action is continually repeated for the duration of the performance. In regard to
the aim of evoking cathartic and/ or deeply engaged reaction from the audience
were do repetitive durational performances stand, in relation to performances
such as Andres Stitts or Beth Greenhalghs were there is a progression through a
number of actions and a sort of beginning, middle and end. Do you feel they have
the possibility of being more effective of is just a different way of reaching the
same aim?

         Phil Babot- Interesting question, I was thinking about that only recently,
repartition can be the repertion of a single action in a cycle or can be what I do which
is a durational performance which is were you take an action and then extend it over a
long period of time, it becomes a repetitive cycle of itself. To answer your question I
don’t think either is particularly more important, both are equally important in
emphasising a single idea or a single emotional aspect of the work. What I think is
different, is the performer them selves. If you’re doing a cycle of repetitive actions as
I performance artist you become more aware of the structure you are using. I’m not
going to say theatrical; but because of the actions your creating there is a space in
between these action in which you as artist need to keep aware of subconsciously. As
an example if you were to walk in a circle and mark a black mark on a white wall
again and again, as your walking in this circle your thinking I’m going to make this
revolution then make this black mark on this wall, if your doing a static duration
performance for a start your static and isolated which causes a lot of physical
problems for a start. If your in an awaked position, in extremes of temperature, if your
holding something and so in order to cope with that situation, your mind has to go
somewhere else, and there are various techniques you can develop which are similar
to the ones used in yoga or martial art, in order to carry on with the piece itself. Your
mind has to go somewhere else, and so your not constantly thinking about the
audience and what your should be doing, are you keeping enough eye contact with
someone, are you focusing to much on what you are doing, the whole piece becomes
initially about you going somewhere else.

So you think there is that difference between the repeated and the static piece?

        I haven’t really thought too hard about it before, but being static is an
important factor, we’re animals, if we move it’s a vary conscious movement from A
to B. There is an old adage in the theatre that if you forget your lines, then you move,
because if you move then you create something that is watch able and it covers up for
a multitude of sins.
Have you thought about how this reflects on the audience?

         I’ve been thinking about this long and hard over many years, on repartition I
think it is about emphasis and reiteration, like punctuation or underlining or
emboldening something in text, its interesting, looking at notions of ritual in
performance, as you know I’ve spent a lot of time looking in to ritual, yet it’s a huge
morass to go into because it differs a lot depending on what background you come
from, whether it’s an anthropological background, a physiological background, a
physiology background. In some views repartition is often seen as obsessive
behavioural, and coming from an anthropological point of view, repartition, and I
think his is once of the best definitions I have come across, which is that it a series of
reprieve symbolic actions, which is were I come in, as an artist I deal with symbols all
the time, and by repeating those symbols I am emphasising what it is I want to put
across. And I’m attempting to emphasise and re emphasis certain symbols, I’m trying
to move away form symbolism because that’s something else but you know, symbols
are important in many cultures and there are certain symbols that are pan cultural. The
circle, the square, and of coarse they mean different things to different cultures and I
think repeating an action or symbol more then once is basically just underlining the
         Were do the audience come in it that, well there a difficult relationship
between the creator of the piece of work and its perceiver, the difficulty of being an
artist is knowing when to stop, when does the last brush stork come, now as a
performance artist you need to be aware of when to stop, and I think that is why you
should always go to see as much performance art as possible so you can see how these
things relate, its impotent to know is when it stops, and how much you can get away
with being verbose, without using to much language, and by language I don’t just
mean text I mean visual language. If we keep repeating things, three times, three
thousand times, you have to then ask yourself why you are repeating it so many times,
is it becoming an obsession. So there is a fine line and the awareness about were to
draw that line comes from experience but it also comes from being able to judge your
audience, situations are so different, so they will often govern your performance. For
instance if you have an hour slot in New York in a white cube gallery, with a certain
audience they might be expecting to see certain things, and you might want to break
those conventions, so it has a lot to do with the point you want to put across, and how
you gage your audience. And to know when you think you’ve made your point and
you’re happy you’ve made it.
2) NJ- After a short while during though performance, I begin to stop thinking
about the audience and the performance itself and start to think of it more as a
task that I must call on my endurance in order to get to the end of. Also, a lot of
my favourite performance art pieces, involve the completion of taxing tasks and I
think this is because; watching people pushing themselves through this barrier
can be quite compelling. How do you feel the elements of endurance and pain fit
in to the reception of performance art by its audience?

         These are things vie been thinking about, since starting performance art a very
long time ago. I don’t really know how to answer it; the only way I can answer it is
from the perspective of me as an audience member and from other audience members
I have spoken to about mine and other artist’s performances. I myself have the same
sentiments as you when a witness a performance that has the same elements you
mention, and that is how I perceive it. I think what spates those types of performances
from self indulgent performances which also don’t work, and is bad art, is that you set
yourself task or a series of tasks or a series of work actions, which obviously have a
particular aim, and you attempt to complete that particular aim. This kind of parallels
you’re every day working actions, for instance, if you want to paint a white room you
have it get a step ladder, a bucket of paint, open the paint, with a screwdriver, put
brush in, you have a series of tasks you have to complete and when you are doing a
mundane task over a period of time, it becomes a task of endurance. Like André
[Stitt] I worked in the construction business for many years in order to subsidise my
art, I once had a job that was ironically just across from the art college in what is now
a big office block. Me and one other guy had a few weeks to paint the entire floor of
an office block white even thought it was already white, and as I was doing this I felt
it was becoming more and more like a performance, painting white on white. Having
worked and being a worker I know what it is like, and In order to cope with the
mundane ness of this and the physicality of this you have to go somewhere else your
brain has to go somewhere else, its not like your willing yourself to go somewhere
else, you just do go somewhere else, this is a kin to the walking performances I did.
They were not about were I was going but what happened on the way, walking is a
very cyclical action it is something that is inherent in our genes and we walk for a
long period of time, again our mind goes somewhere else.

        To give you an example of a recent work I did, ‘ad infinitum’, the work had a
large amount of personal interaction, there was a loti of intimate action between me
and the audience, my eyes were closed all the way through it so I couldn’t see anyone
but people were coming up to me touching me, whispering in my ear. The whole
thematic [of the exhibition] was ‘Addiction’. This way difficult which is why I
usually use fairly ambiguous titles such as ad infinitum as a title. There were people
who even found it confrontational which were interesting, they found it threatening as
well. Endurance work, from my experience, can lead the audience to sympathise with
the pain and suffering of the performance and other things such as how tired the
performer is, and this can be counterpoised with people who feel it is threatening and
become quite confrontational about it, and I can never work out why. A few years ago
I was helping a friend out who was making a film called ‘Still’ which was about
stillness, where he wanted me to create the classic yoga position in various
environments, some were rural environments some were urban environments such as
a train station or the middle of a busy street. There was this time when I was sitting in
the lotus position in the middle of the street with a hood over my head so you could
not see what age or sex I was, I was a totally amorphous character, and one guy came
up to me and shouted at me get up, GET UP, GET UP, GET UP and the more irate he
came, the more calm I became.

And there was a film crew there?

        Yea, the perception of endurance is a human thing, it is down to human nature,
its down to our altruism, if we’re decent people, which most people are we
sympathise with people. Alister McLennan’s performance at Chapter recently was
interesting, as you know most of his work is static, people were coming up to me and
asking, ‘How long has that guy been sitting there?’, ‘8 hours!’, ‘How old is he?’. The
guy in his 60s, static for eight hours, sitting in the cold with a box of marbles on his
head that if he would have moved would have dropped at any time and destroyed the
aesthetic of the image completely. And interestingly people came who weren’t from
the art world and they weren’t saying, ‘whets the deal about what the symbolism?’,
‘Why is he using these objects?’, they weren’t asking those questions they were
saying fucking hell there’s this guy whose been sitting there for eight hours and
instantly they have this rupour with this guy, they know what the piece is about, they
can see his focus. It is the simplicity of this endurance which is enduring. I use this
phrase again and again, I did concoct it myself, but I do believe in it, its ‘Simplicity is
a complex business’. Just look at Zen. We live in a western society were by endurance
is becoming less and less necessary, and this is something I often hark back to. Now
we endure monotony and the monotony of the everyday life, we have to sit for three
hours at a desk writing a dissertation, the endurance of having to go wait three second
to connect to broadband. The idea of a public communal endurance are, I think are
becoming les, though they are still celebrated in things such as sports, were by
people will stand for hours on end to be part of this communal experience. You will
get this in performance art pieces for instance. You can get these pieces made in cold
weather in wear houses and people will stand through for an hour or two hours
watching the entire things. And they will then say, ‘That was hard work, but it was
worth it’. It is a communal experience, its common ground that is basic to us, we all
know what suffering is about, now it is perceived differently by different cultures but
basically we all experience pain, unless we have damaged psychological systems and
that pain can be both emotional and physical.

       [Interrupted by phone ringing]

        Endurance can be enduring time, enduring pain, and enduring an awareness of
self, and a loss of awareness of self. In order to endure time and pain you obviously
you are aware of your self, and in order to cope with it you have to try and loose
yourself, if that makes sense. A lot of Zen though is about loosing ego, or diminishing
ego, in order to cope with your every day condition. And in order for us to cope with
durational performances that is a techniques we use.

        A pike I did years ago, which I haven’t thought about for ages, I took a load of
Mogadon which is a heavy downer, I basically created a set of every day actions very
one could relate to, using simple objects and tried to do it over a long period, and It
was becoming increasingly difficult as I wanted to lay down and sleep, it became a
struggle against my own body.
3) NJ- I did a performance recently that involved the drinking of a bottle of Gin.
After the piece was over I was asked if it was real gin. It was real because, as I
told them, I always attempt to avoid faking anything in my performances. This is
something that most performance artists adhere to and something I think that
could be seen as the essence of the divide between the performance artist and the
theatre actor. Do you think it is important that performance artists avoid faking
or fabricating anything in a piece of performance art and if so, why?

        This very interesting and it is a differencaiation I use a lot when I talk to
physcologissits who what to understand what performance art is, I talk about the
intention behind performances. Personally with my own performances what I do is
real, though in previous performances I did intentionally use elements of the charlatan
or svengali, in my practice the vast majority of my work is very clear cut in that what
you see is what you get, regardless of your interpretation, the actions I am doing are
genuine actions, if I cut myself I cut myself and if I drink alcohol I drink alcohol. I
remember seeing a Ron Aethy performance recently with André [Stitt], I’ve been
following his work for years and its all very powerful, its often about the endurance of
pain and the aesthetic that comes with that. What had happened with this work was
that he had gone completely off kilter and it had become a piece of theatre. In this
piece he was going to sit on this large pyramid with his arse hole penetrated by it, he
was going to sit on this thing, it was going to be this really powerful performance, but
with every step of that ladder on the way up he was going aright as if it was some sort
of big rigmarole making big gasps and expressions, as if he was physicing himself up
and it blew the whole thing for me. There’s a prime example of blowing it, I think if
your going to do it you have to go for it big time, don’t do anything half heartedly, do
it. A bad art piece I saw recently had two guys cut open a can of dog food, and took
one mouth full and though fucking hell this is dreadful and so instead of eating the
hole can of dogwood, they put the can down. By doing this they instantly made a
statement, its like with cutting performances, there was such a huge spate of cutting
and blood letting performances in the early to mid 90’s that I remember someone
saying, unless they cut there fucking head of I’m not interested. It was like, how many
more cuts can I do more then the other artists in order to make myself viable? I agree
wholeheartedly with you, it has to be real.

What is your position on self censorship? Where do you draw the line?

                                    We do have a responsibility to monitor what we do,
life is about responsibility, both individual and group, it depends on the situation and
your intentions, for example, when André and I were in china the first time in 2004,
we were at the ‘Dadau’ live art festival in Beijing, China despite being a communist
country, is a very moralistic country, a lot of those morals are based on ancient
Chinese traditions, so you have this layer cake of Chinese traditions which is a
mixtures of Confucius, Taoism, Buddhism, Maoism and now capitalism. So you have
this layer cake of cultural taboos, which come with it and when we were there we
were sensitive of this, and so we asked what it was we could do so we didn’t get them
into trouble, and there were several things, no blood letting, no nudity, and nothing
that criticises the state. Yet mine and Andres work had all that in it, so we agreed to
go last. So if we got shut down least it would be at the end of the festival. That’s one
example of being aware of your audience. The question of children being present is
problematic, I have a problem with children being in art galleries, I’m not saying that
children should not be allowed into art galleries but if they are there, they should be
accompanied by an adult whom is there to guide them in the rules that accompany an
art gallery. You wouldn’t run around an church for instance, picking stuff from the
alter and throwing it about, shouting in the middle of the sermon and I think it is about
respect. I wouldnyt walk around with an erect penis, if children were raound, I
wouldn’t want to cut myself if children were there, however there are time when I
have create work in public places that are purposely about challenging people idea of
the state. I’ve done work in Eastern Europe, that is overtly political, overtly criticising
the state, I could have been arrested, I’ve made shore, people that organise it knew
about that and were ready to disassociate themselves from me if they had to. I didn’t
want to put people in that position, I’ve done lots of work in public places, in lots of
countries including this one, in shopping precincts, ect. That have not threatened
people but have threatened the whole status-quo, challenging peoples perceptions of
what is right. Ironically what people seem to find is that the most threatening to do is
simple introvert actions, standing still In the middle of a shopping precinct, because
modern path ways are all about consumerism, getting to work, or the shops quickly
and if you block people, work were I perform with my back to the audience, people
find extremely confrontational, even though it’s the obverse of that. Having respect
for people, having respect for people what question you which is why I make shore
my performances in that situation have a very particular set of rules I work with were
I know exactly what imp doing and so if imp challenged. My work is never to
threaten but to expose.

The following five questions will look at your concept of shamanism in relation to
your own art practice and how it affects the work you produce.

4)- NJ- My interpretation of your concept shamanism in performance art is that
the artist puts out a set of iconography in each performance and the audience
draw on it in there own personal, relating it to themselves. Assuming my
interpretation is right, how far do you think the artist should go in constructing
this iconography and relating it to something and how much should be left
ambiguous so that the audience are free to create there own personal

        That is the way I work and that is my intentions. I think you should go as far
as you can to make things clear, no matter how far you go to make things clear
because of human nature things will always be ambiguous, and for instance, if I show
you this symbol which is the central image of my next exhibition [Babot holds up
piece of paper with a symbol reminiscent of two horizontal pointing triangular flags
on flagpoles meeting at there tips] you can show this to a million people you will get a
million responses unless people actually know what it is, which very few people do.
There is a very particular intention behind this symbol, its not something I have
created its something I have borrowed, it is an ancient symbol, it means many things
but it means only those things to the original people who made it, I’m using it in my
work to mean those certain thing, but that symbol has so many connotations because
it looks like so many different things, and I will create an exhibition around that
symbol that bring very clear intentions and a lot of people will get those intentions,
because of little notes around the place to do with the work and the way the work is
put together, so that one thing builds on another. There is also a deliberate element in
my work that allows for this ambiguity, a playfulness , I remember a few years ago
when I was doing my MA, it was during group criticism, the critic was pushing this
artist to tell him more about the work and the artist said I think I should now leave it
to your conjecture. He said, ‘Whatever happened to magic in art!’ and I think that is
interesting, I really like art criticism, but like all criticism it is just one mans ideas,
they might be very educated people but its still just one persons perception of the
work, in reality ambiguity is good in our yet at the same time you need it be really
clear about what your intentions are in a work, to get them across to your observers.

5) NJ- What issues or subjects are you drawn to utilising in your work, do you
have a selection of favourites or are you more interested in taking topical or site
specific subjects to inspire work?

        It’s changed a lot over the years, and I don’t mean its changed from one thing
to another but its like having a bag of tricks and you have more and more tricks, its
like favourite foods, over the years you accumulate more and more favourite foods.

       [Interruption at the end of first tape]

        Initially my work started out, 20 odd years ago to do with space and
whiteness, blankness, if you look around you at my desk over there, you’ll see every
thing is placed there in a specific linear fashion, I have some form of obsessive
compulsive disorder, on a very small scale, that makes me very aware of formal
compositions, I enjoy the aesthetic of orderliness. This is something inherent in my
work for many years, lines, linearity, the space between objects, then the relationship
of my body to surrounding objects, in a forest, by a lake or in a gallery. Now of coarse
you can’t ignore the history and sociology of these social spaces. Running parallel to
this I was doing street actions that were overtly political and confrontational, and
these developed in to durational works which was sometimes used to draw attention
to the built up or natural environments. So over period of years these things have
come together and in a fashion so my work incorporates all these things. The line is
very important to my work, a black line on white background, which then becomes
transcribed in to the work. A lot love my work comes from visions, not holy
revelations, but sometimes I will wake up with an image in my mind which I will in
some way want to recreate in my work. And from that I will create a number of
actions. That will work on and try and advance the image. For example the crow is
very important symbol, and I have used the image of the crow in much of my work
over the years, interestingly I was doing this at the same time as André, before I met
him, the crow is the trickster character, in North American cultures, and it is one
element that reoccurs. There are reoccurring elements that have built up over the
years, so there will be more and more reoccurring and over time there will be more
and more reoccurring elements. Ironically to counter pose this I now try to throw
away as much of this as possible, if its possible, and it down to single common
denominators. And you will find this in a lot of other areas, for instance in dance
because I worked for a while as a contemporary dancer. Something interesting I gave
noticed is that dancers that are coming to the end of there carer because they can no
longer do it, because of repetitive injuries, and stamina decreasing become masters of
there work, because they have learned the whole vocabulary of gesture, that they
don’t really need to do much any more, they can do just a tiny hand gesture, a tiny
turn of the neck or the eye and portray all there meaning with it. This is something
I’m striving to do with my work, daring to have an exhibition which doesn’t have
much in it but is the result of a years art work practice based work. How far can you
cut it down, yet still put across the original intentions of the work.
         Endurance performances I did earlier in my career were really extreme,
putting my body at risk, I became hyperthermia, extreme heights, dangerous work that
would probably be stopped by health and safety executrices these days. But its how
can I put these elements in my work yet make them physically possible for myself at
my age, but at the same time I want to push myself at my age, but of coarse there are
different ways I can push myself both mentally and physically.
        Site specifity and topicality is very important, I must admit that over the years
have whacked together a performance because I’ve been offered a commission at the
very last moment, and gone into it without knowing much about the space or what the
audience would be like at the location. I try and do as much research as possible about
the location and the audience who will be there for a performance. The architecture
of the space, etcetera, but to be honest if I’m doing a site specific piece there is a
reason I’m doing it there which is an all impartment factor which governs the way I
perform within it. Of coarse with performances were I’m moving from one place to
another, of coarse it becomes more difficult when you are moving from different
places. Its extremely important, but that is not to diminish when I have to work in a
specific place because I have been commissioned to do so. That doesn’t mean I’m not
aware of the building and the type of audience that will be there, it just means I will
have to work in a different way. Ideally I can be left to chose my site.

6) NJ-You say that in your work you wish to evoke a catharsis in your audience
members, can you discuss how you feel this catharsis is evoked by you’re

        I don’t feel I have been clear about this in previous presentational I have given
so I should clear it up now. I don’t think that it is essential in all my work though it is
becoming increasingly more important over the past three years in particle, I do still
make work were there is no intention at all to do that.

        I think it is to do with the intention of the performer and that catharsis can be a
shared experience between the artist and the audience. I believe that if I can achieve
some form of catharsis in my performance by re-living some past physical or mental
trauma either I have experience or I have witness some one else experiencing, and
then some how creating a series of actions or an action that forces me to re-live it, and
forcing me to re confront that trauma and then purging it from my psyche which is
beneficial too me because it is healing. I believe, and I cant back this up with
scientific evidence, only anecdotal, that by doing that I am enabling other people who
observe it to have the potentiality to do the same, this is going back to what we were
talking about in terms of endurance. As human beings we have a strong disposition
towards sympathy, otherwise, well its survival instinct, in order to protect other
people of our species we have to have some form of sympathy for hem, other wise
we’re psychopaths. I did a lot of research in to this a few years ago for a piece I did
called ‘Devoid’, were I researched serial killers, many years before they were in
vogue, I was working with people from the FBI, and I was looking at what constitutes
normality in behavioural systems and there is a guy called John Norris who is a
Canadian behavioural scientist, who the FBI use as a profiler, probably the first
profiler, and he said if you don’t have the five basic emotions then you don’t operate
as a human being, you are a psychopath so I think that because we have this inherent
ability to sympathise that if some one is going through a cathartic experience we can
pick up on that and it can be cathartic.

7) NJ-The concept of shamanism and even just the word itself is imbued with
huge amounts of spiritualist connotations. What is your understand of
spirituality and all that is not physical and do you feel your ideas about the role
of performance art in society are still just as relevant for those without a belief in
the spiritual realm.?

         First I think we should clarify, spirituality and spirit, I don’t know the
definition of spirituality and of coarse definitions change over a coarse of time, but
first of all I should address the notion of sprit, as it is a notion I have problems with.
Firstly, I am not a religious person, I have no faith, people misconstrue that I am a
Buddhism, I find it like many other religions very interesting, yet I have a problem
with all religions in that they are a set of dogman that Is set in with the state, also
patriarchal control, normally its run by man to shore up the status quo, no matter what
that society is. Yet that is not to say I am not a deploy spiritual person, because I
believe I am, so what is sprit, spirituality is the acceptance that something that is
beyond which is rational and the explicable and the scientifically explainable, and I
think every body is spiritual, even though they say they are atheistic they will still
have superstitious beliefs, for example, if they go to a football match they might wear
the same football jersey every time, if they go for a job interview they will bring there
lucky mojo. We all have superstitious beliefs that are ingrained in our physic that aree
passed down to us, Jung would argue that these things are passed down through the
human psyche.
         The spiritual is perhaps believing that we as individuals are being are not the
top of a food chain, that a lot to do with our understanding of the human species and
the idea that we are the most important thing on this planet. It is also to do with
consciousness and what happens when we die, it is a belief in do we continue when
we are dead and a lot of my spiritual beliefs are now backed up by science, ever since
I was a child I have been fascinated by science, I love science, I read science articles
online everyday, I’m always interested in reading ‘New Scientist’, I’m also fascinated
by what cant be explained by science, the Para-normal. Interestingly a lot of ancient
belief systems, such as indigenous science, threes a guy called David Peat, who is an
abstract physicist who has coined this term indigenous science, stuff which isn’t
quantifiable but is inherent in belief systems of indigenous people through out the
world. Interestingly as we look towards the new sciences, quantum mechanics,
quantum physicist etcetera. We now see these closely parallel a lot of indigenous
belief systems, the parallels being phenomenal, the idea that things exist inside
themselves, able to fold in on themselves, so the universe being within every thing
ect, the idea of reincarnation for example, which is part of a strict dogmatic religious
system. The fact is we don’t die, if we look at Einstein’s theories and other parallel
ideas, we can see that matter, can not be created or destroyed, we know that the atoms
we are made up of are the same atoms that existed at the beggining of the universe,
and will exist at the end of the universe, if indeed there ever was the beginning and
end of the universe. When we die they will disassemble and reassemble as something
else. Indigenous people believed in systems not that different, like that we are no
different to the wood on this table, we are no more important, we are one and the
same thing. The more I come to look at this subject the more spiritually aware I am,
originally I just thought it was mumbo-jumbo hocks-pocus, mysticism, that was
reserved for white middle class people in California in the 70’s I now realise that
there is a lot more to it, it is something that I think, if we look at disease in society, we
might be able to cure certain ones, yet there are new ones such as certain cancers,
which don’t appear in other indigenous cultures which appear due to the death, of
spirituality. Plus with the decline of Christianity in the west, there appears to be
increase spirituality in young people. For exhale the talks I have been giving recently,
if I had given those 20 years ago in an art college, I would have had people laughing
at me, heckling me because I would have been seen as the lunatic fringe, but this all
boils down to things not being quantifiable, because we live in the west which in
anthropological terms is known as being, dualistic society where by, every thing has
to be questioned and every thing has to be answered. In much eastern thinking they
think, why do we have to question every thing and maybe there’s not just one answer
or maybe there are no answers, that is the whole problem, the profane, the world we
inhibit, and the sacred, which is something different, it becomes more and more
ludicrous this argument because with increased physiological studies you can ask any
psychologist in the world and they will say they do not know what consciousness is,
you can read any paper and they will not know what consciousness is, so because they
have to concede that they have to concede that, they do not know what reality is. If we
do not know what reality is we do not know what unreality is? So these are big
complex, and dangerous questions that threaten the state, which threaten our very
existence, we what to know why we are here, are purpose, these are things that are
inherent in all of us?

Do you think there is a future in this logical spiritualism

        Its difficult to judge if there has been a move by scientists to embrace spiritual
awareness more then they have in the paste, of coarse there has always been this link
between science and faith, Einstein was religious, so was Newton, a lot of quantum
physicists have become spirituality aware due to there research, and embrace it. Of
coarse there will always be people who hijack spirituality for there own gain, but were
we draw the line between religion and a cult, I don’t think there is this line only that
one is socially accepted by a state and as becoming the norm and the other is not
socially accoutred as the norm. Why is one more fashionable then the other, they are
both irrational from a scientific point of view, and something’s fashionable, but that’s
all right if people are continually questioning themselves and looking toward a more
harmonies society.
Don’t you think this spirituality will actually stop people doing this questioning,
just like Christianity has done by offering dogmatic answers?

        I guess the only answer to that is to say that you must constantly ask questions
but at the same time it comes down to acceptance, a lot of philosophies use it
Buddhist use it, and that is sometimes to do with belief, faith, I have experience
phenomena in my life time which I find inexplicable, both when I’ve been under the
power of very powerful psychotropic drugs that aren’t available in this country, but
also in very day life, through my performances but also through a super awareness of
myself in this universe. A lot of it’s down to acceptance that shapes the way things

8) NJ- I see your work as being about the evocation of emotions through the
presentation of actions drawn from real life, but how does the context of the
gallery change peoples interpretation of these actions from if they had been
crated outside a gallery situation and for a non gallery audience. Is the existence
of the gallery context crucial to the shamanic elements and aims coming through
in the work?

         Its because I work both in galleries and site specifically I have to work
differently in both environments while also having the same intention in both
environments, its easier on the whole, to create that intention in a gallery because a
galley is like a church or temple in the since that traditionally its there for purpose,
and has its own set of rules and its own set of regiments and the audience that go into
it on the whole, are aware of that set of rules, don’t crowd in on the perfumer, you
don’t heckle, physically interact with the performer unless asked too, so there are all
these things that are constructed and happily for me most galleries are white which
creates the sense of space. If you put a piece of white paper on the desk in front of
them it’s a piece of white paper but if you put a pen on top of it your immediately
inviting them to draw on the paper, so the gallery is like a black canvas, and the
performer works on it. When you work site specifically there are a whole new sets of

        If I do something in the streets then I know because of doing performances for
many years that in my bag of tricks there are certain action I can do, certain symbols I
can crate that are instantly recognisable and would evoke emotions, but at the same
time the same symbols and actions would be interpreted in a totally different way by
another group of people. Now because a lot of my work references the history of art,
refernces painting, drawing, it has a huge layer cake of refernces I can not escape, that
on the whole are understood in a gallery atmosphere. In a gallery atmosphere more
people will be aware of that history of art and so will be more able to draw inferences
from the work. As opposed to some one who sees me on the street, its basically being
aware of your audience, and always expect the unexpected and never underestimate
the audience. And you can not say that people from outside the art world will not
know what type of work you are doing, it’s a dangerous line to go down a very
patronising line to do down, people talk of a minority audience, yet if my
interpretation of history of art is inherent on my work, the whole of history of art is
about presenting images that are relevant to people. If we go right back to religious
iconography 12th century or 11th century, of coarse these paintings were being
commissioned by the church and state, and reconstructed elements of the bible and
scriptures, over time they begin to enclose parts of every day life within them which
can still be used today. For instance if I was going to china I would problem, use
elements from Taoist religious art as opposed to elements of western religious art. So
it’s about understanding your audience, and using your space to the best of your
ability and using it to put across your ideas.

To top