You are the first artist to work with Samara Editions on a series of performances that can be sent to the audience by post. How was the working and creation process for you?
FIONDE’s creation process was something completely new for me. My work is normally designed for a team, and it takes place in spaces other than my home. I belong to the generation of artists without roots. I create by moving through cities, small towns, different countries. The world enters in my work all the time. This is how my relationship with the audience is created: I collect gazes from the moment I feel a new work is going to arrive and I start talking about it to everyone I meet.
FIONDE was the exact opposite!
The world was inaccessible. There was only my two-room apartment. The winter seen through the windows. I couldn’t imagine the audience for this work. It was like creating for ghosts. When I met Ilaria Lemmo, I thought in the middle of the fog, solitude, desert, having someone to work with would maybe help me not to drift.
Creating together means being responsible for the other person. It means having to be able to say your thoughts out loud. It means accepting some noes. Being with Ilaria saved me from drifting. And then the Samara Team acted as a levee.
FIONDE was the work by which, after the pandemic had choked everything, new social avenues began to be built. The creative process was all-encompassing. It sucked me in, there was no more intimacy. FIONDE was everywhere. It was beautiful and difficult. FIONDE could only be born in this time. It was necessary.
Your work is basically done by completing the box. The moment the box is send to people’s homes, you give the performance out of your hands. You have no knowledge when and where people open the box. Contrary to a regular presentation in a theater, you cannot experience the reactions of the audience, you might get or not get any feedback. How is this for you?
I find that fascinating. When meeting an audience, I usually love the immediate feedback, the one you get while the energy is running through the people in the room. In the same way I live with discreet embarrassment, the applause or the words immediately following the performance. The distance proposed by Samara is poignant and wonderful precisely because it overwhelms everything.
FIONDE enters an intimacy so deep that when I think about it, I blush a little.
Yes, it’s true, people are not involved in a feedback loop with me, but while they experience FIONDE they interact with the object created for them. They modify it, fill it with nuance and meaning. Losing control of one’s creation is dizzying but also wonderful. In the end, when someone has something urgent to say, they say it anyway. They send a little message. A letter. A little note. And these long-distance feedbacks have a value that’s hard to recount.
What are your thoughts on homes, on private spaces, especially during a time when we have been asked to stay home, to distance from social spaces?
Last winter we talked a lot about this with Ilaria. We were opposite poles of an endless debate. For me everything always passes through the body. My body is so hungry for the world that it feels suffocated if closed between the bedroom and the kitchen. I have a disabled body. The mainstream narrative wanted me embedded in a structured life. Choosing liquid paths, abandoning grids, it has been years in the making. Perhaps the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done.
It meant learning to tame fears and frailties. For me that time without social movement resembled a nightmare. Everything was being taken away and while the rest of the world was talking about the future, I wondered how complex it would be to recover everything. I wondered if it was possible.
This pain for me took on absolute nuances. I extended my way of feeling to the whole world, I was a sort of volcano of ashes.
They reminded me that everything was more complex. They reminded me there were people who could survive without injury at that time. That I was speaking from one point of view but out there in the world, there were others. Different ones. Opposites. Impossible to count.
FIONDE was also born out of the tension of these dialogues. Shifting the angle of your gaze is very difficult when you’re alone. So, I can’t really answer this question. I leave it open-ended and maybe, in 10 years, when we have understood if this year and a half has left consequences in us or not, maybe then I will be able to say something more structured. For now, I only know that I imagine hell to be very similar to a place without public space.
Fionde will be part of Moving in November 2021. The visit is in collaboration with Baltic Circle – international Theatre Festival.
Interview conducted in August-September 2021.
Photo: Johanna Salmela