Sharon Smith and Jen Rosenblit in conversation about individual versus group consciousness in artistic collaboration: collaboration is ‘not about sameness’. Revealing desires for control, or freedom, in performance, they question how much, or how little, our artistic practice depends on the presence of other people. They touch on Judith Butler’s concept of ‘disruptive kinship’ which acts in resistance to a systemic tendency towards the joining together of ideas or people to remove disruption – to create spaces where people can work together without agreeing or aligning. They speak about queer spaces and frameworks.
This conversation was produced as part of What Now 2013, presented in partnership with Siobhan Davies Studios and Artsadmin, supported by Arts Council England. The festival was curated by Frank Bock with assistant curator Luke Pell, with the intention to ‘draw attention to how bodies already exist in collective relationships…there is critical agency in the way that we direct ‘togetherness’ in the current time.’
Sharon Smith is based in UK/Berlin working as part of the arts collective Gob Squad. Gob Squad works collaboratively on the concept, direction and performance of work. They make performances, installations and videos which search for beauty in the everyday and try to explore the point where theatre meets art, media and real life. As well as theatres and galleries, they place their work at the heart of urban life – in houses, shops, underground stations, car parks, hotels or directly on the street. Everyday life and magic, banality and utopia, reality and entertainment collide in the work and the audience is often asked to step beyond their traditional role as passive spectators.
As well as Gob Squad, Smith is part of an ongoing collaborative project called Max Factory. Max Factory has a post-feminist inclination, often using a stand up format to assimilate culturally codified systems of meaning to emphasise their arbitrary and fundamentally absurd nature, undermining the repertoire of images, ideas and assumptions about the female body as it is constructed within a commodity obsessed, media saturated culture. Smith received a PhD in performance studies from Nottingham Trent University.
Jen Rosenblit has been working on making dances in NYC since 2005 and holds a B.A. from Hampshire College. Rosenblit is from rural Maine, which always feels important in regards to understanding time passing.
In NYC she teaches improvisation and performance independently, through CLASSCLASSCLASS and through Movement Research. Rosenblit’s work has taken her abroad to Denmark, Moscow and Milan. Her work locates a space for being with audience in a contemplative theatricality. She is currently interested in an improvisational approach to choreographic thought and ways of structuring bodies as they fall out of relation aesthetically and spiritually while still locating ways of being together.
Adapted from bios published in 2013.