Towards the Simple — Levi Gonzalez 11/24/10

It always amazes me how structure manages to reveal itself, if I’m able to pay attention to it. Often when I try to build something, it feels like I’m obscuring or complicating the thing that is most interesting about the material I’m working with.  My Open Studio showing demonstrated once again the need to have faith in the simple and direct.

Performance is alchemical. Something about the audience, the vulnerability, the exchange ignites the room in ways that working alone in the studio can never quite prepare you for. I fantasize about the audience, how it will feel, strategies for engaging them, but the reality is always more intense and messy and full of information than I could ever prepare for. What starts to seem flat, dull and rote in rehearsal becomes layered and charged in performance, so long as I’m able to commit myself to the experience. I dread the constant ups and downs of the rehearsal process. One minute I’m in love with something, the next minute I think it’s pointless and empty. It’s this instability that keeps driving me forward, and ultimately keeps me invested in this form. I like not knowing. I like creating a situation where performance has the potential to be a place of transformation. I like the fact that performance is a phenomenon that is too much to take in, that leaves an impression rather than a document, that cultivates a different kind of knowledge.

For now, I’ve decided to call this work “For You, The Audience.” Not sure about that, but it certainly has a lot to do with seeing and being seen. The room we’re in, the moment we are sharing, even if the roles are oppositional and charged. I’m trying to understand both my feelings about “production” and my personal practice of making work (which is always changing). How can I create a relationship between the two, where one doesn’t negate the other? I don’t want the performance to simply demonstrate what I would do in the studio on my own, but I also don’t want to erase the hours and hours I spend investigating this form simply because it is now a public presentation. Rather than making something designed for effect, I’m trying to investigate my relationship to movement, my body, my ideas and propose a specific translation for that relationship into a structure that can be called “performance.”

Lately, I’ve been holding off on defining steps or setting movement. I’m hoping the structures of things will keep becoming clearer as I spend time with them. I have to trust that spending time is enough. That being receptive is enough. It’s hard. Already I’m thinking “Holy Christ, I’ve got to make a piece now!” It was useful when Marya reminded me that I shouldn’t stop exploring just because I’m aware there is a show coming up (I’m paraphrasing). It’s easy to get derailed when the spectre of “production” starts to appear. And anyways, I’m still trying to understand what things I’m drawn to in the studio.

Hopefully I’ll manage to stay out of my own way.

I’d also like to thank everyone who came to the Open Studio showing. Because this work is so dependent on the presence of an audience, it’s incredibly helpful to start to understand how this feels. And to see how you feel after experiencing it. So thanks!


  1. marya warshaw wrote:

    staying out of your own way – best advice i’ve ever been given too. we are experts at devising and finding new building materials for roadblocks. we do it subtely and then vrey obviously. sometimes i’;s a minor shift that makes space, sometimes an intellectual and even spiritual belief that a bit more messiness won’t hurt. but the combination that gives us a little more time to stay in the glorious mess, a little more time to register intuitively, a little more psychic time to find a deeper source of ourselves.. makes for so much more of a satisfying experience and stronger creation.

  2. BAXarts wrote:

    Anna Marie Shogren commented on Levi’s Open Studio in her blog Arts & Revelry.