On September 10, I am capitalism (MAP 2012) premieres at The Kitchen. Created by koosil-ja with Geoff Matters, I am capitalism is a continuation of koosil-ja’s research on the Body, specifically dealing with the psyche of capitalism embedded in her own. Matters and koosil-ja channel various sources and use movement, video, text, light, and sound to contemplate how the psyche of capitalism has taken over the body — and to exorcise it. They spoke with The Kitchen’s Katy Dammers about I am capitalism last month. Read on for an excerpt from the full interview, and find tickets and more information here.
Katy Dammers: What brought you to consider capitalism in this piece?
Koosil-ja: Over the past ten years, looking for my identity was the driving force behind my work, and I wasn’t really going anywhere with it. Then I read Gilles Deleuze and felt an opening. He thinks being is a process and identity is a crappy concept, because it puts our existence inferior to the idea that exists before us. He opened me up to a new plateau. While I was searching for the meaning and name of my existence, my body existed, and I was living in it. I realized this was real enough. Then I thought the body might be an impersonal solidity through which the subject passes. Body became fascinatingly unknown. Body is not a brush with which to paint my metaphysical world; instead I create a new type of body and a particular world in which the body is a part of each dance project with technology. Sooner or later I arrived at a place where I questioned—who is moving inside this body? Where is this force coming from? Ultimately I considered this force of capitalism that I plug myself into—this minor being to this major system. I’m accessing Deleuze and Guattari’s works, especially Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972).
Geoff Matters: When you talk about the capitalism as a force driving the body, it reminds me of when we did Dance Without Bodies at The Kitchen in 2006. We used a video screen playing loops of video as an external agency to drive your body’s movement as opposed to dancing based on your internal whims or a score that you’ve memorized. I’m struck by the parallel between that and what you said a moment ago about capitalism as the external force that’s pushing your body around. I wonder if that’s a thread of commonality across a decade of working with Deleuze’s ideas in your dance works.
KD: Will you be using this process of live processing again in I am capitalism?
K: Yes. Let me first explain about Live Processing. I created the Live Processing performance technique by drawing from Deleuze and Guattari and my performance work for the Wooster Group. For the Live Processing technique, I prepare video sequences (ranging from 1 to 3 sequences) as a choreographic score. The video sequences consist of dancing bodies and moving objects, chosen from across all genres and sequenced with specific intent. They are played from the monitors placed at each corner of the stage. The dancers read and mentally process the images and combine them into physical movement in real-time on stage. The dancers practice the score for one to two years. Live Processing distributes the task of choreographing among the choreographer and dancers. The audience can see the source materials displayed on stage. It unfolds the process of the performance in real time for the audience.
Live Processing was featured in Dance Without Bodies commissioned and presented by The Kitchen in 2006. Live Processing resonates with a philosophical thesis that Self is not a predetermined property that is static, but rather it is always in a process of becoming, while being affected and also affecting others. We took this concept literally and created an environment for the dancers to create movement while extending their perception and feeling; the dancers connect themselves with the persons, objects, and environment in the video sources. For I am capitalism, I continue to practice Live Processing on stage with the same intent, but in a specific way for the project.
GM: We often work with technology but always consider it as a means to try and achieve some end. We are wielding technology in this new piece to try and address a different set of questions around capitalism and the relationship between the body and the system in which we find ourselves. Although we are using technology in a different way, if you step back a bit it’s actually pretty similar because neither set out with technology with a starting point.