In Moments of Pause: A Q&A with Dance Artist Ira Ferris

Phrases by Maxine Flasher-Düzgünes

A number of weeks in the past, I shared a dialog with Sydney-based dance and curatorial artist Ira Ferris, co-Director of an arts collective Artemis Projects, who create between Europe and Australia. Ferris is co-author of the e book SPACE BODY HABIT, which explores the brand new methods to expertise and have interaction with areas. Her responses drift fluently between her work as motion practitioner and multimedia artist, to her work as an exhibitions’ curator. At present she is organizing an internet panel ‘What happens in the pause?’ as a part of the March Dance pageant, to think about and advocate for the worth of relaxation and stillness inside artistic follow and dance, which is scheduled for March 5th 2023 and free to attend from anyplace on this planet. 

Maxine: How do you outline interdisciplinarity in your creative follow?  

Ira: I’m pondering of it as a follow that doesn’t sit neatly or simply in anybody class. It’s extra porous and makes use of no matter medium or type or self-discipline is on the market to specific concepts or ideas. I don’t regard myself as an professional in any of the types – nor do I try to that – however extra as an explorer and a researcher. I believe it’s also my character which causes me to battle with placing myself below a label or inside a class. I get bored specializing in one factor or working in a single self-discipline for too lengthy, or too intensely. For example, I’ll be a author for some time, however then I’ll want a break from that, so I’ll flip extra intensely to bounce or making podcasts. However on the finish of the day, I really feel that every one these are in some way interrelated, though it’s nearly unimaginable to clarify how. I simply don’t see any explicit distinction between them…They’re all means to an finish, I suppose.

Maxine: Do you prioritize any explicit creative type in your work – amongst them being dance, poetry, sound and video?

Ira: I might not use the phrase ‘prioritize’ as a result of it appears too unique, in addition to too acutely aware or intentional, whereas what I do is much less so. I might relatively talk about it when it comes to a ‘core medium’ – the one which the whole lot comes from and returns to. And that core medium could be: the physique. The physique is on the middle of my explorations, and the device by means of which I encounter and have interaction with the world. It’s because I grew up and developed by means of dance; it’s one thing that I began working towards and coaching in after I was 5 and did for 15 adolescence of my life. So, after I introduce myself, I wish to say that I’m a ‘dancer’, even when I work in a special medium on the time. However dance is the lens by means of which Ireally feel the world. So, even after I write, I write by means of the prism of dance. And this isn’t as a result of I consciously prioritize that, however as a result of it’s actually on the core of who and the way I’m.

Ira Ferris with Lily Alcock, Kirsten Packham, Catherine McNamara – in Lux Eterna’s The eighth Day, March Dance Improvement Residency 2022.

Maxine: You even have experiences as a curator, and I believe that’s a really attention-grabbing gateway in the direction of merging a whole lot of these fields. What’s your thought course of behind curating reveals? 

Ira: It will rely on whether or not I work on a solo exhibition of 1 artist or a bunch present. After I work with a solo artist, I concentrate on bringing their imaginative and prescient to life. I’m centered on serving their voice, supporting them in constructing confidence by being within the room with them so that they have someone to bounce the concepts off, which is the method by means of which they make clear their very own ideas and intentions. After which possibly I’m going to be giving them suggestions, as somebody who’s faraway from the work and may see the fuller image. And I’ll suggest optimum methods to current their work, their concepts, within the house. Group exhibits are totally different as a result of they begin with me organising a theme that I’d prefer to discover, and I curate the artists round it. For example, one of many exhibitions I’ve accomplished was known as, Contact is the Mom of all Senses, and it regarded on the manner 2D or 3D photographs can have a tactile sense, so we really feel them on the proximity of our our bodies, nearly as if brushing towards our pores and skin. In these sorts of ‘thematic exhibitions’, I’ve a bit more room to specific my very own concepts or creative pursuits, and I consider the gallery house as a canvas that I work with, and I convey artists and artworks into that house so as to add colours or shapes to that canvas. And so, I see these thematic group exhibitions as one giant set up and if they’re profitable, they received’t really feel like group exhibits in any respect however have a way of cohesion, so it seems like a piece of just one artist.

Maxine: How do you assume varied mediums of artwork can exist collectively in an area?

Ira: Hm, apparently I nearly really feel the query to be pointless, which suggests: why wouldn’t they? You understand, as artists all that we attempt to do is make one thing that’s not readily seen on this planet, seen by means of a metaphoric expression. And what we use to do this ought to actually be open. I don’t see any have to hone in on one explicit medium. That appears very stifling for creativity, truly. Unnecessarily inflexible. 

Maxine: Relating to your personal gallery-shows – exhibitions of your personal works – do you all the time have stay efficiency as a part of it? Or is that depending on the piece?

Ira: Yeah, completely dependent. For example, latest exhibition of my work – time, circles, and pure rhythms – was a video, poetry, mixed-media exhibition that explored methods we will measure time by means of the physique, after we change off the very colonizing Western gadgets similar to clocks. And I did contemplate together with a stay efficiency ingredient, however I needed to let go of that as a result of it simply didn’t serve the work. It was laborious to tug again as a result of gallery-performance is one thing that I’m fairly taken with, nevertheless it was not including something to what I used to be wanting to specific so it could be forceful and accomplished just for the sake of leisure, which isn’t what I used to be going for. So no, I don’t all the time have stay performances as a part of it, which once more speaks to that factor: I solely use the medium that serves the idea on the time. So typically that’s the stay physique. And on this case, the presence of the physique was nonetheless there, nevertheless it was on display screen. 

Ira Ferris in time, circles, and pure rhythms_2021

Maxine: What have you ever found in your artistic work with bodily supplies? 

Ira: While you say ‘bodily supplies’, I instantly consider the house or the surroundings the physique strikes in, and with. What I found is that the positioning and the surroundings have an effect on the physique and the physique impacts the positioning. We’re very delicate to the positioning, to what surrounds us, and the positioning is delicate to us – whether or not we’re conscious of this or not. Making works that convey us again to the attention of this interconnection, is environmentally needed and pressing.

I’ve additionally found that after we all know the house – this bodily container inside which we transfer – as soon as it’s acquainted, we have a tendency to maneuver in it in routine methods which restrict our notion and the opportunity of in any other case. That is one thing I’m taken with difficult. I’m taken with pushing the boundary of creativeness that we create by means of habits. On the identical time, I do know that this restrict is a really laborious shell to interrupt, troublesome to increase, as a result of on the finish of the day even the physique itself is a body, and a comparatively inflexible one. So as an example, I as Ira can solely transfer in sure methods, not simply due to the actual coaching I’ve accomplished but in addition as a result of my physique is constructed as a specific type of construction. However I’m nonetheless taken with questioning how far can I push that edge; how a lot can I problem the given restrict, which can be a restrict to creativeness. 

Maxine: Are you able to elaborate in your work with somaesthetics. Is that this a time period that you simply’ve coined or a lineage? 

Ira: Completely a lineage. Every thing that I do – and I believe all of us do – is a lineage; nothing actually is an unique thought. It’s stunning and one thing to be celebrated. We’re all the time within the lineage of academics and mentors which have shared with us their knowledges. And this one is one thing that I’ve encountered by means of movement-artist and educational Lian Loke who I consider makes use of it from Professor Richard Shusterman. I’m not an professional on this time period, and I could also be utilizing it in ways in which Professor Shusterman didn’t intend, however ‘soma’ means ‘physique’ and ‘aesthetics’ is the way in which we organize issues on this planet, so this time period resonated with me when it comes to curating artwork exhibitions in a manner that’s centered on the phenomenology of the expertise. How as curators we organize or design or curate an area in a manner that results the physique of the customer – their senses and their notion. We affect the way in which the artworks are ‘learn’ by positioning them in a specific manner throughout the house.

If you place them in another way, the entire which means adjustments. It’s much like altering the order of sentences within the textual content, or phrases throughout the sentence. If we shift the order, the entire which means of the textual content adjustments, and that’s what we’re doing in areas by means of positioning artworks in sure methods. After which on the identical time, as curators we additionally choreograph actions by means of the house. We create sure pathways by means of which the works can be skilled, which is the order through which the works are encountered. And this additionally impacts the notion – the work that you’ve seen simply earlier than will have an effect on the way in which that you simply see the following work. I wish to empower the viewer to know that their notion is being not directly manipulated; and in the event that they grow to be conscious of that, then they’ll additionally query that or attempt to break by means of that. It’s not that this manipulation is unfavorable. It’s our job to create sure type of phenomenological expertise and there’s intentionality behind it. There may be nothing flawed with that, it’s simply that I would love the viewers to take heed to that, so they aren’t simply puppets on the finish of the string.

Maxine: May you inform us a bit in regards to the growth of the e book SPACE BODY HABIT and a few workout routines provided within the e book?

Ira: The e book was an consequence of a two-week residency that I had accomplished with fellow artist Elia Bosshard at a artistic house known as Frontyard right here in Sydney. Initially we didn’t intend to put in writing the e book however wished to develop a workshop-model across the ways in which we habitually use areas, and learn how to problem that. Every day of our residency began with a specific train we have now invented and led one another by means of, after which on the finish of the train we’d have a dialogue. We audio recorded the entire period of the residency – as a result of I’ve a compulsion to file sounds – and so we had this materials which in the long run we felt could also be price sharing with others, so we transcribed it into the e book. One train was, unsurprisingly, impressed by [German theatre practitioner] Bertolt Brecht, who was all about breaking the social conditionings and established order, and the political potential of that. This train is known as Eight walks (perceptions and decisions) and it invitations you to stroll the identical pathway by means of the house eight occasions, every time specializing in a special sense or being led by a special a part of the physique, similar to the highest of the pinnacle or an elbow. After which the eighth stroll is an invite to stroll the house as soon as once more, however this time very slowly, nearly unnaturally gradual, spending numerous time deliberating the place to go subsequent…This was geared toward highlighting that second after we make decisions, and maybe not following the primary impulse or first intuition, however giving ourselves a while – therefore, slowness – to decide on in any other case and see what that results in, how that makes us really feel and what we uncover in regards to the house if we shock ourselves in the way in which we use it. On the finish of this train, we had a extremely wealthy dialogue on the distinction between impulse, behavior, intuition, and instinct; whether or not they’re considerably synonymous or truly totally different.

One other train that I’d like to focus on, as a result of it was possibly my favourite one, is known as Yesterday’s pathways, provided by my colleague and co-author Elia Bosshard. It’s a quite simple train that asks you to attract the trail you took by means of the house the day earlier than, from the second you’ve arrived to the second you’ve left, which might be 5 hours of your time. You’re requested to retrace the entire journey by means of the house and its surrounding at some stage in these 5 hours the day earlier than. I really like this train as a result of it actually connects you to your muscle reminiscence. As you draw the traces, you’re deeply in your physique feeling and reliving the sensations of motion by means of the house… In making these traces, you come to a micro stage of that larger motion that you simply’ve made along with your physique the day earlier than; even the issues like going exterior of the constructing to get lunch and coming again down the streets and getting in once more. You’re remembering these actions however you’re solely utilizing this micro stage of A4 paper to current that on…So it’s very delicate, however very strongly embodied.

Maxine: What’s it like working throughout the artwork scene of Sydney? 

Ira: Um, properly, I’ve nothing to match it with so it’s laborious to talk of it when it comes to explicit geographical context, however after I converse to my Croatian associates, lots of whom are artists, all of us converse of identical struggles, which is normally funding and lack of cash, lack of help, doing heaps without cost, numerous volunteering work. Typically investing our personal cash into issues. And after we do receives a commission, it’s insignificant amount of cash. For example, as a author you get $100 to $300 for a textual content you’ve spent weeks on. As a result of it’s not simply the time spent sitting over the pc typing the textual content, however all of the hours spent staring on the horizon and percolating concepts – these invisible moments of labor that we do as artists, in durations that seem as pauses. They aren’t seen as work, however in actuality the whole lot occurs in these invisible moments. When you go and sit by the pc to put in writing a textual content or go to the studio to make the work, that’s the top a part of the method. That’s when the work is already accomplished. You simply put it on the market. However all these tortuous weeks of arising and clarifying the concept in your head – that’s simply seen as nothing. And it’s one thing that pursuits me of late. How will we converse to establishments about that, so that they understand there’s a lot work accomplished in these moments of pause?

Study extra about Ira’s work at