Departures and Arrivals

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Cosmos the beach - interview with Linda Blomqvist
Rita Natalio

 

Interview with Linda Blomqvist about “Cosmos The Beach”, an MDT co-production.

Premiere at MDT 16 sept 20:00 + 17 sept 21:00

“Cosmos The Beach” is a license and a permission to produce on the premise of happiness, desire, care, fantasy and curiosity. It detects what’s already there to create links between things in order to build a vast network of interests.

 

 

INTERVIEW


Can you describe the "vast network of interests" that guide you in “Cosmos the beach”? How would you describe your present moment to us an artist?
 

I think Cosmos The Beach is a way to combine and to expand my interests. In a way, by doing so, I don’t have to exclude anything because of this “machinery”. It is a network that allows inconsistency and multiplicity and creates a relation with everything. There is always a relation and therefore a variety of things are relevant to the work. It might sound too open but openness is one of the most important premises to the work. This “vast network of interests” is perhaps a sign of greediness – “wanting it all” - but primarily it’s a way to maintain the work bigger then myself; to sustain a difficulty to navigate through it in order to avoid it from becoming didactic and revolving around semiotics, signification and identity. It’s a way to allow the audience and myself to be active. I prefer to produce a vast network thoughts and knowledge in relation to the work rather than comprehending “what it is” about. 

It’s all about allowing things to appear and to create patterns or logics from these different notions. To stay fluid yet knowing within which universe, ideology or aesthetics you want to be in.
As for the present moment the main interests revolve around object ontology, materiality and performativity – finding new ways of being together in the theater and of having an experience. Attention, time, nature, sculptures and blending of formats are other themes that appear in the work. One important aspect to the work we always try to apply is to do everything with a sense of care, conviviality and togetherness.

 

Why did you choose the title "Cosmos the beach"? And how do you relate cosmology to dance? 

I like the fact that the title suggests something that is familiar with yet the peculiar syntax hopefully invites one to imagine what this could be. We know cosmos and the beach as two separate entities but what is “cosmos the beach” and how does it feel? Cosmos as the beach, the beach as cosmos? When we are told to imagine a place that makes us calm and happy it often happens to be the universe, the beach or a meadow – in this way it represents an ideal. It’s also about simple things I personally love and feel affinity for.

In a way I think it perfectly represents the concept or “machinery” I mentioned before, cosmos as the “whole”, as a vast expanding network and the beach as the partial, as one of the specific interests we choose to engage in.

A friend explained it like this: the beach is not a spectacular place in itself (well this depends on where you go obviously) but it’s a place where you can be and act in many ways and in that way everyone can be fantastical on the beach. The kids playing in the sand, the grandma doing water gymnastics, the surfer on the waves or the girl sunbathing topless – all of them are fantastical.

Cosmological theories about a nonlinear time is central to the work as much as I relate this machine or network to the universe as this ever expanding thing. Questions or speculations about origin - where does it all come from - blend with my choices to create the work. To relate this particular work to cosmology is a conscious decision that I have made. How it relates to dance I’m not sure. The most significant aspect I would say is that it deals with an organization of time, space and gravity. Theoretical astrophysicist David N. Spergel has described cosmology as a "historical science" because "when we look out in space, we look back in time" due to the finite nature of the speed of light. In that sense I think dance is also a historical science, actually everything is. Everything carries history. But I’m more interested in how the past, the present and the future can coexist simultaneously. Most of all I’m excited about the future and how we can form it now.

 

What kind of relationship do you want to build between movement and the objects/images you sent me?

 The objects set a landscape in which we operate. Together with the costumes it defines an aesthetical image and a universe of reference. I have surrounded myself with things I like and I am curious about. The work is object-oriented so the relationship with the objects on stage is significant. I don’t see the object as a set or as scenography, I see the objects equal to us and the dances/practices we perform. Everything is considered an object with different properties to it. We invite the audience to look at the objects and ourselves. We work a lot on different ways of being – being human, animal and object not in a representational way or illustrative way.

Also, we move between intimacy and display and movements are influenced by the objects/images through embodying and mimicking shapes and properties of these objects/images. It’s a formalistic approach and yet it produces and intimate relation. How are we together with these objects? How can we enhance their properties? How can we become an object/sculpture together? In that sense maybe what we do is to create installations, sculptures or monuments by blending the objects with our bodies.

 

I was curious about some of the images with painted coconuts, smoke and plastic bags. How do you want to present the relation between nature and artifice in the work? 

I’m interested in the discrepancy of nature and artifice from several viewpoints. The blending of the organic and the synthetic is a good reflection of how human artifice and nature coexist. Nature is indifferent and will always strive to survive and adapt to any conditions and circumstances. I think this is quite remarkable. There is also the aesthetical aspect of it. Let’s imagine a house and next to the house is a tree. There is design and aesthetic to both of the entities. One is sprung from a human consciousness. There is a decision-making, a will and a direction in “how” this house is built. In what concerns the tree there is a consciousness of a totally different kind that we can’t even begin to imagine.

By taking objects from nature and placing it in a different context and by alternating it’s appearance with paint I think what I’m trying to do is to make the proprieties of the objects even more visible and tangible. I try to present the coconut in a way that exceeds it as a signifier: a coconut can be more that a tropical fruit that grows on palm trees. I try to but to look at the material, the structure, the form and the texture of the coconut.

 In the presentation text of this project you claim for non-linearity, fantasy and curiosity and the possibility to serve the artwork's needs and desires instead of giving it a previous "human" and voluntary direction. What strategies do you use to pursue this goal? Is it possible to put your own will as a choreographer aside? What difference it does to construct a work with this goal in mind?

 There are several sets of strategies. Curiosity indicates that there is a will that comes from me as a choreographer - this is inevitable. I constantly have to make choices about which things I want to invest in, how to cultivate them, how to create relations and how to put them in a structure. You could say that I’m navigating through a vast landscape. Some things I let pass by and others I chose to engage with but how it comes to me I don’t know - let’s fantasize that it’s the artwork that wishes things. The principle is to start with desire or curiosity and see how it unfolds and where it can lead. I know where I start from but I don’t know where it will take me. It’s a constant practice of a state of openness and receptiveness. Staying attentive to the things that appear to you and allow yourself to be lead by this horizon of interests and curiosities that you haven’t set up beforehand and most of all trusting this force no matter how scattered or inconsistent it might appear.

It’s interesting how knowledge works in an accumulating way: you can let yourself be guided by knowledge into other networks of knowledge. The difference it does to construct a work like this is that I might encounter things I normally wouldn’t encounter. It’s a very rich process and highly stimulating. Maybe this also allows the audience to fantasize with us and to produces other thoughts and we can be fantastical together in cosmos the beach.