by Alex Escalante

Neil Greenberg and Miguel Gutierrez in conversation, Part 2


Not-About-AIDS-Dance and Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies

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Neil: I want to go back to me sitting in the studio with Cunningham work and getting such potent experience, enriching my life, and how I know that many audiences never got that experience. This is an after thought—I didn’t think it then and I didn’t think it even when I started the work where I included the text about people’s lives—but now I think, maybe part of what made that experience rich for me, was knowing the people. Maybe! Maybe it did. And here, what you’re saying about the self, maybe that’s in there and important. It helps make the experience rich.

Miguel: I think it’s always this weird fiction that we go to these shows and we think that we can just see these things divorced from our perceptions of these people. I think this is retarded.

NG: It’s interesting how audiences read bios so scrupulously. We love reading the bios, and when somebody doesn’t give us a bio, that becomes a bio in itself. Woo, interesting person, not giving us a bio.

MG: It’s funny ‘cause in Europe, they don’t tend to do the bio thing. That freaks me out because I wanna know who these people are. I mean, obviously when I go see dance concerts, at least in New York, I certainly, for the most part, know everybody or most people who are in the show, and that totally impacts my experience. Sometimes it’s nice to go with friends who don’t have those relationships, and they’ll be like, ‘you mean the woman with the red hair?’ Or ‘the so and so with…’ You know, how they describe it, it’s so funny. But I do feel that even those people, what they are reading is personality, you know. It’s kind of weird on some level that we sometimes want to think that that’s not part of the read of an experience. For me, it’s such a big part of when I see work, and I think this comes from being a teacher, or [the fact that] I’ve always been interested in psychological, inter-dynamics of space or interpersonal relationships. I really zone in on the energetic quality of this human, and what she or he is going through inside of this work, and her or his shifting relations to the different locations in the work.

NG: It’s amazing how perceptive we are to that, in such subtle ways. I’m thinking about your trio, Difficult Bodies, and the three women. Aren’t they in unison for a large section? And it’s one of the interesting things to me about unison which I use—I’m very attracted to it—this tiny, little, nearly imperceptible and actually probably consciously imperceptible ways that people butt up against the unison, these tell you so much about the performers.

MG: I think it’s funny also because unison proposes a fiction that we are the same. And I think that what’s beautiful about unison is that it proposes that fiction and at the same time, it completely shows you that there’s no way we can be the same. I find that a very poetic statement or idea.

NG: What connects us and what articulates us.

MG: I think it’s a container. I’m interested in it as an expression of community and I’m interested in it also as a sort of nod to fascism at times, or to this order—this idea that we can somehow order the world by having things happen at the same time. I’m interested in all those things as constructs. Again, it’s funny because that particular piece, that’s not what I wanted to do! When I set out to make this thing, [I was thinking] ‘they’re going to be really different all the time, and they are going to really show their individuality.’ And the thing that I kept being drawn to was when they were doing things at the same time. And I felt horrible in a way, somehow, that that was…

NG: I’m not supposed to be drawn to this because my intellectual thoughts told me to be drawn to this other thing.

MG: Of course!

NG: That would be the MFA thing, to stay drawn to the other thing.

MG: Yeah, I sort of went with my sensual response, you know, which [was that] my sensual faculties were drawn in by this possibility of this challenge of having people do things at the same time and also the difficulty of having people do that and what that means in terms of having to connect them.

NG: I can’t help but guess that the juxtaposition of that to your solo was certainly informing your surrender to, or decision to stay with, that form that your nose was leading you to and you just couldn’t stay away from.

MG: I wanted something to disperse, somehow, the energy that gets constructed in the solo, which is very self-directed, right? It’s very super me, me, me, me.

NG: This gives me an opportunity to say one thing about the solo. When I was watching it at DTW, these questions that I think live in the solo, [that are] even in the written materials that I read afterwards, and even the title of “Retrospective Exhibitionist,” and what is it to perform, and is this valid, and look at how ridiculous, I am talking about my own work, let me turn that into an aesthetic object in itself, self-reflection and all of that. I remember being in the studio myself starting to make a dance—I think it was Partial View—and those questions were so living in me, and [I was] feeling [like] I wonder how can this get out? And it didn’t get [out] in me, but it got out in you, that vein of inquiry that I didn’t have the method or the interest enough, or whatever, to pursue. I think I didn’t have the wherewithal to follow it. You followed this vein of inquiry and certainly as a performer, it was a rich experience, for me to watch you put that out on stage. It was a very rich experience, I guess is what I’m saying. Now, in your [written] material, I was drawn to and wondered what this meant.

MG: What?

NG: Looking at two sides, the evening looks at the two sides that are in every performance, what the performer presents and what the performer feels.

MG: It’s funny ‘cause I don’t even know that I wrote that. I think I read that as a description somewhere, and I liked it so much. I think Ellen Jacobs or some publicist came up with that language and it was one of the few instances where you see yourself represented in press and you are like, yeah, that is what it is. I was kind of shocked and it’s funny how that strangely does happen sometimes.

I think for me it goes back to the thing you’re talking about, the kind of body that was important when you came to New York. I think there’s that thing about the superhuman, the invincible dancer and the sexy dancer.

NG: And that would be what the performer presents?

MG: Yes. I feel like when you talk to people and you say I’m a dancer, their eyes roll, like ‘oh! the dancer, you must be like this physical creature, you’re like working your body 6 hours a day, and you must be so hot’, and all these weird things.

NG: You must be great in bed, must be able to just work yourself into a pretzel.

(Laughs)

MG: Well, I don’t get that so much, anymore…

NG: I used to get it. They were going to be so disappointed when they got me, when they realize…

MG: Not a pretzel, honey; more like a croissant, like a Cinnabon! But those perceptions may be purely self-created in a certain kind of way. And I think that for me, certainly going into the solo, so much of what I kept coming up against was all the ways in which I wish I could be something other than what I actually am. And that sort of self-hatred generating material or generating something, and these ideas of me having to be more powerful than I actually am. So, constructing something that is almost too exhausting to do. And this idea of somehow being this super human thing as actually some sort of call towards love or wanting to be loved, or wanting to be seen as this incredible thing, but always, ever and only, returning to the banality of the reality of myself and my body, and changing body, and mid-30s, and losing a sense of something that I felt about myself maybe ten or twelve years ago. And how that is just real. It’s a truth that exists in this form also. And the resentment I feel around that. And the resentment I feel around being a gay man, in the culture. This idea of ‘what if I am not the embodiment of your ideal?’ and what if I am not the embodiment of my own ideal? And, I don’t want to get into it, but I do think it merits saying, that the whole time that I made this show I was in what was basically the most significant relationship of my life, and so I was going through a lot of questions inside of that too. Like, I want the work that I make to somehow be the best advertisement of me that can possibly exist, you know, in some sort of way. And all this sort of coming clean about that stuff… It’s like that tension, like you’re talking about in Not About AIDS Dance, here’s this, here’s this aesthetic object and here’s this line of ‘I made this material after my brother died.’ Yeah, there’s history in the present. There’s inner life, there’s off stage, there’s shifting and eating and sleeping and fucking and wanting something and not getting it, and…

NG: You don’t know how much that’s all in the work…

MG: Of course. And for me it’s not about confession; it is and it isn’t about confession. It’s not about exploitative confession, like I’m going to Barbara Walters and going like, ‘he used to bit me.’ Not interested in that at all. I was really interested also in these punk structures, of ‘I’m going to go immediately from this action to this action.’ There’s no transitions, right, no such things as transitions: this exists and then this exists and then this exists. And it is like this collage, this zine activity. I was really interested in that as a structural organization because I wanted to land in the middle of an experience. I didn’t want to get myself into the experience. But I wanted to say immediately ‘I’m in an experience.’ And that was a way of also tempering the self-indulgence of the project. It was to say, o.k., structurally, I’m going to hammer these things right next to each other. And…

NG: Take out the beginning and the end and get right to the middle.

MG: Yeah, just get to the middle of the event. This is the event. That’s been really useful ‘cause now —it’s funny, this kind of gets back to the beginning of our very early discussion [of] going back to this work, which is…

NG: When you see it now…

MG: When I do it now, because I’ve done it now a fair amount and it’s had its premiers and I just did it in another country, and what I latch onto now is sort of like the practice of performing the specificity of that structure. That’s what keeps me alive inside of the material, because I can ‘t go back to those feelings all the time—the feelings that generated the work. It’s like Alexander Technique: you can’t reproduce the feelings, you can only reproduce the conditions that generated the feeling, and maybe you’ll have the feeling and maybe you won’t. So, for me, adhering and speaking and trying to be honest to the structure and to the structural concerns of the work, are ways of creating the conditions for these different emotional resonances to occur.

NG: Or other emotions.

MG: Exactly, or other things that are happening in relation to my present body, or my present interest, or my present reality.

NG: Especially since the audiences are going to be different, or it’s the same person on a different day, or in a different country, or whatever it is.

MG: Absolutely. It’s also what keeps it alive, you know, it’s a live performance, it’s intended to be that. I’m always interested in acknowledging that live performance is a visual experience, somewhat of a display, but that it’s also a sensory experience, which is something that, for me, it’s something perceived and registered within the body. And that what I am interested in, ultimately, in performance or in dance, is that dialogue between the outer perception and the inner reality of what’s happening. And I feel that the difficulty of that dialogue compels me to continue in this form. I’m always trying to find a way to create situations where people in the audience, who are not onstage dancing—because it’s also weird, we work in concert dance, it’s different. It’s not like we’re at a party and we’re all dancing and we’re all getting to have this pleasure. We are watching an art object. It’s a very specific kind of experience. So, we’re proposing…

NG: A constructed, a selective…

MG: Absolutely, completely. I mean, obviously all kinds of people are making all kinds of different work. But I still feel that it can happen even in that relationship.

NG: That what can happen?

MG: That people watching can have a sensory experience.

NG: Yes.

MG: And that their experience can be internal, and that their experience can be transformative and can exist inside the realm of imagination. I was reading this article the other day that talked about [how] imagination is almost like this political space. It’s this realm inside of our bodies where transformation occurs, a transformation that is not necessarily from, you know, ‘well, I used to be a Republican, now I’m a Democrat.’ Not that kind of space. But a much more nuanced, and almost like an imprint, an imprint in our cells that is shifting and mutating.

NG: Our imagination?

MG: Yeah. The way that if you were to press your hand against foam, and change the different levels of pressure between your fingers, that the foam itself would change shape. And for me the act of performance is the hand, and the imagination is the imprint, you know, shifting. There’s something delicate about that. And I like acknowledging that that’s possible. I don’t pretend to know that it’s going to happen, but that’s what’s interesting to me about performance. When that happens and when that can happen, I find myself like ‘wow,something is…

NG: Transformative is a good word for it. Honestly, for me to experience more of any moment is transformative…

MG: Absolutely.

NG: …or it is the goal of the transformation. It’s such a big thing to experience.

MG: It can even be like that you’re inside of a practice of observation. That’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, when I go see performance now. Sometimes I found myself getting really judgmental or frustrated or falling into a mode of viewing, which is very depressing. And I’ve been seeing some experimental theater, and a lot times the language in the theater totally eludes me, like, I don’t understand what I’m supposed to get from that. I remember seeing The Emperor Jones, the Wooster Group piece, and I was like there is no way that I can grasp this language, it’s too fast, it’s too complicated, accents, all that stuff. So, I was ‘you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to just open my arms, uncross them, and I’m going to totally experience this as sensation. I’m just going to live inside this sensation.’

NG: God knows the Wooster Group is a sensory experience!

MG: Yes, and it was great ‘cause I felt like ‘o.k., I don’t have to sit here and by the end of the hour decide that I understood it, so I can pat myself on the fucking back, figuring out the fucking show. But it’s more like I can just acknowledge these shifts that are occurring based on this very esoteric action. And that’s been a really great way to experience live performance acts. I’ve been experiencing that teaching class. I’ve been experiencing that in a lot of different kinds of situations where there are live people. Even sometimes when I’m talking to a friend, I’m like, ‘o.k., I’m going to put all of my attention to this experience of this person speaking, and experience it purely as a sensory thing,’ rather than me saying, as they talk, ‘I’m waiting to fill in what they’re saying’, or ‘I’m waiting to figure out the answer to this thing they’re talking about’, which might not even be a problem. It’s interesting what that does to you physically. I don’t even know where I’m going with this…

NG: I actually think it is very interesting. I was on a kick earlier this year, and this sort of reminds me of it, [that] with dance and maybe all art, the metaphor of speech to describe an artistic experience being really lacking. Like, ‘what does it say?’ ‘What does this piece say?’ As if dance is speech and it says something.

MG: A sentence…

NG: A sentence, or a dissertation, or a magazine article, anything. ‘What does it say?’ And I think that though sometimes artists put something in a piece that says something, that when it’s actually art, I think maybe, it doesn’t only say something. Saying something is a task that we have other mediums for. Especially for dance, ‘speech’ seems to be a fairly weak metaphor. I used to talk about dance as a language, and now I think maybe I want to get away from that. Maybe that’s a weak metaphor although I understand what I was doing then was saying that this is as potent to me as language. And it’s as rich and as edifying, gives me as much as language. Even the communication of idea, maybe that metaphor isn’t always what it’s about.

Certainly this goes into performance also. Sitting at DTW watching your show, being with an audience was a big part of that experience. It was a great show to see with an audience. You created these experiences, like the candle… but not just that. All of it, it went so many different places, as you said. And sitting with an audience, there was a group—[I] have to Sarah Michelson it—“a group experience.” There was a real, palpable community created out of nothing. I certainly didn’t feel that way walking in, absolutely not. Those major experiences, I’m wondering if that might be some of the attraction to the performance artist of the earlier time, that such an extreme experience creates a community. Community might be a metaphor too!

MG: Well, what I love about all that performance art work is that it implicates the fucking audience: we’re watching that person scream for an hour; we’re here, we can’t pretend that we are not here. And I think sometimes in dance, we can pretend that we are not there. We can sort of ‘I’m here, but I’m not here.’ I like actions where it’s undeniable. Like, I just came back from being in Spring Dance, and [I was talking with] one of the other American artists that were there, Ann Liv Young, a young artist, and one of the things we were talking about [was] her work and that [what] I really enjoy about her work is that sense of ‘Goddamm it, I’m on the fucking stage and I’m doing something.’ Whatever else you may feel about it, you cannot pretend that it’s not there and that it’s not happening to you. So in a sense the work is so much about…

NG: I exist, you exist, and the person next to you exists!

MG: Exactly. And you better have a fucking feeling about it. That’s interesting. That provocation can be very powerful and I am interested in that too. I guess I’m interested in—and I think it’s a little bit coercive and it’s something I’m trying to deal with—but I’m interested in saying, o.k., we’re fucking here, we chose to come in this theater, let’s have a fucking experience. You know, it’s not the same as something else. And it’s not to say that it’s better than something else, but it’s not the same. It’s [a] particular attention and a particular experience at a particular time. That’s been a real driver for me in stuff. I feel like a lot of how I evaluate work that I see has so much to do with that, like ‘how much of this feels necessary? Is this a necessary experience?’

NG: Interesting.

MG: And is it necessary for me to be here? Is it necessary for me to go along with these people in this experience? It’s just a way in which I gauge my presence, or how my presence is supposed to operate as an audience member. Because we’re doing this shit in front of other people. So whether or not we want them to love it or hate it, whatever, we must believe that somehow their presence makes the work operate in some way. So that’s interesting to me to, to consider that. And not so that I hope that everyone is the same, or that everyone have the same response, but more just to propose this space of implication, which I think is interesting. And I think that—I’m going to get back to Not About AIDS Dance—I feel that sometimes we’re supposed not to talk about AIDS anymore, you know…

NG: Well, that is part of what pleases me to do it again, part of it. I’ll tell you, I love the title of the piece. I mean the title Not About AIDS Dance is interesting in a lot of ways, to me. But especially because it has the word AIDS in it, so that word has been in my bio all these years. Everything that has ever been written about me, they use the word AIDS.

MG: That’s the AIDS guy!

NG: (laughs) I was the face of AIDS in The New York Times.

MG: I remember that, you told me.

NG: Yeah, I liked that! You have to deal with the word AIDS, and it’s all capitals. It jumps out of you on the page.

MG: AIDS!AIDS!

NG: AIDS, AIDS, AIDS… Yeah, and it isn’t talked about very much. This guy David Román wrote an essay [titled] “Not About AIDS,” borrowing the title from the dance, about how we just hushed up about AIDS at a certain point. And I have to say that I hushed up, in my life. I’m back in my denial. My meds are working and my personal friends aren’t dying. And that was such a horrific experience. And I don’t want to deal with it, and I don’t want to go there. For my own personal therapy I think it’s important that I go there ‘cause a part of me shut off. When I don’t go there, I don’t go to joy either. When I don’t go there, I’m not open for a relationship either. It has to be all of me, and that includes that. I think certainly for gay New York, that’s an issue. And I think for much more than gay New York. All of the arts, all of arts New York went through this for sure, in a big way.

MG: I’m curious what it is for younger people too. I feel that people in the dance community even can have such short memories, you know. They won’t even remember what happened three years ago, let alone…

NG: Any community.

MG: I guess that’s true. Let alone 20 years ago or 25 years ago, or even 15 years ago. I feel like I caught the tail end of that growing up, so it really made an impression on me, this idea that there had been this thing, which just means people, and that those people were then gone. And that what went with them was a particular cultural fabric and richness and that that became supplanted by something else. And how that notion continues to sort of hover in our mythology, this idea of like, ‘oh, the past and the present!’ How the past is different than the present. I’m interested in that, I’m interested in that you’re bringing that back,

NG: In time-based art, bringing back is a question that lives. And then when you have a dance like Not About AIDS Dance, where the text refers to those specific performers, and three of those performers will be on stage, and two of them will not. It just brings the question to light for me vividly, that this is not the same time that it was then. Even though it is. There’s a slide that says ‘Justine is 22’. And Justine isn’t 22 anymore, and I think, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to sort out, but I think the slide is still going to read: Justine is 22. And you will see Justine … who looks great, you know, but…

(Laughs)

MG: My God! She is 34!

NG: Thank God she is not 22. Would you like to be 22 again?

MG: At least for a couple of hours.

(Laughs)

NG: So, I should tell you, I’m making another dance to go with this, and you are partly an inspiration for this dance, in that you told me that a reaction you have to my work is about the gay male body dancing, what is the male gay dancing body? So this piece is a quartet for four men, and it’s called Quartet with Three Gay Men.

MG: That’s awesome.

NG: It’s part of the repressed—culturally and personally repressed—material that I was trying to not edit out of my moving body. That’s one of the things that were trying to come out. So just letting that question live on stage. And then also that title is an interesting title for me because I feel like I can make any piece and the title is going to work just fine, no matter what the piece is, because it ties it again to the specific performers. So this piece is now and Not About AIDS is not now. Even though it’s still now.

MG: Yeah.

NG: I mean there’s a slide that says ‘I’m HIV positive.’ And that’s still true. Justine is not 22, but I’m HIV positive. That’s still true.

MG: It’s so funny our relation to time in terms of art and culture. I was reading the review that Jennifer Dunning did of Alain’s show…

NG: She said something about AIDS.

MG: Yeah, but [something like] as a piece of theater it comes a little bit late, or something [like that]. I think it was the last line of the review, I can’t remember exactly.

NG: Ah. I interpreted that differently. I thought she meant late in the piece. Not late as in dated.

MG: Oh! I totally read it as that she was critiquing it as being dated. That just felt so weird.

NG: Well, if someone was to say that… and we don’t know if that’s what Jennifer was saying…

MG: I felt like, what does that mean? I don’t know, I felt like, yeah it’s dated, it’s specific. He’s making a specific choice to present a specific medication that is in a specific time. Ah! And someone else, Chris Dohse, wrote about that in his review too, like ‘we’ve been to the trenches with this…’ And I was like, o.k. that’s great that you’ve been through it…

NG: Because the medicine boxes that are stacked are AZT boxes.

MG: And I just felt like, It’s o.k. He’s treating it as an object; he’s presenting it as an object. It was interesting. I’m always interested in the chronology of experience or acknowledging the time constraints or affiliations of vocabulary or things like that. Like I look at a Graham vocabulary and I think, o.k., that comes out of this time for x, y and z reasons. It’s interesting this idea of experience being attached to time in this way and somehow its attachment to time giving it the possibility of negative evaluation. ‘How dare you!’

NG: You had this experience then, but you can’t have it now.

MG: Yeah, it’s long gone, dude. That’s not the feeling you’re allowed to have anymore. I don’t know. It’s this…

NG: It’s part of the question that I’ve been having in re-presenting Not About AIDS Dance again. Is this valid?

MG: Of course it’s valid now.

NG: Yeah, I’ve been very attracted to the piece again, which is fine. And it’s great for artists, like us, we don’t get to re-present work ten years later… It’s very hard to do that. It takes a lot of effort to create the conditions to do that. And it just isn’t afforded us.

MG: Of course, to return.

NG: And I would love to see a lot of work again that I saw a long time ago. I would love to. It would be so great. And we see ballets; we see early Balanchine ballets…

MG: Ad nauseam.

NG: Ad nauseam, but for me also it’s great. I like seeing them! And Cunningham didn’t do it when I was in the company, but he started showing some of the early work, like the work “to” music, and it’s wonderful to see these different sides. What an artist creates when they’re younger is really… that never will exist again! It’s a very particular thing and also to be able to put it next to their later work. But even if you don’t, it’s a wonderful thing.

MG: Well, I think it’s interesting with dance because it’s the body, and the body changes in time, and that change is very legible! We can see that it’s different. I think that’s always intriguing.

NG: You’re saying that’s why my hip socket hurts? Because it’s the... I was about to give my wrong age! It’s the 47 year-old body trying to be the 35 year-old body?

MG: Any one should be so lucky to have your body, please!

I want to ask one question. Do you feel like having returned to this work puts you in a different place about what you want to make later? Does it re-constitute or renew something for you about the work that you feel needs to exist more in it. I’m totally projecting by saying that, but I’m curious.

NG: I don’t know. Is there anything for yourself behind asking the question?

MG: I think it’s interesting. I’ve heard about the piece a lot. When I moved to New York, I heard about the piece. It’s clearly one of those pieces people really associate with a moment in your own trajectory as an artist. I’m sort of alternatively like super seduced by that when it happens to artists and I’m also super wary of it; this thing of like, ‘then she made her signature piece.’

NG: “Signature,” which I didn’t think it was. I mean, at that time, it was the next step for me artistically, which happened to occur at a really big moment in my personal life. But I was already planning that next step.

We could go back to that earlier metaphor of speech. I think that with this piece, people seemed to be able to say ‘Oh, it’s about…’ As in, “I know what this dance is about, I can understand it, like I understand speech.” Which is not how I think of the dance. And it’s so interesting that for some reason, and it has to do a lot with my brother, the reason I called it Not-About-AIDS Dance.

I can’t get into all the personal stuff, but at one point, Jon was noticing that everyone who came into the room to see him, he thought that they were projecting themselves, and that it was about them. That this experience of him being so sick and dying, although he didn’t quite acknowledge he was dying, was about them. He was saying ‘This is not about you,’ and somebody wrote that over his bed. It was very ACT-UP. Somehow that changed into Not About AIDS Dance in my mind when I was trying to come up with a title. It also came from ‘I am not defined by AIDS. I am not about AIDS.’ But I’ve just continued making work, after that moment [of Not-About-AIDS-Dance]. And I probably did get a little seduced by the “signature” thing at some point. And it probably stopped me from going forward [for a while]. But then I went forward. But it’s really great to go back. For any artist and for any audience, to go back, it’s great. It’s fun. And going back to “Retrospective Exhibitionist?”

MG: Is it fun?

NG: Yeah. What is it?

MG: I don’t know. I feel concerned. That’s why I talked about that “signature” thing, because people are very quick to make a decision about “this is the thing that…” I do feel like that about it, that it is from a certain moment when I became clear with myself about certain things. And I feel very different, and I definitively recommend it as a project to any artist who is out there: If you are kind of confused about your work, make a solo; it will tell you something. Just the engagement with yourself, ‘cause so much of the process is saying I wanna do exactly what I fucking wanna do on stage. And if it’s been done before, that’s o.k., all the more reason to do it. And not having all that fear of being derivative, or all that bullshit.

And we’re going back to it here in New York; it’s not like it’s been so long since we did it. But already I do feel different. Already my head is very much in the next project, to be honest, the next couple of projects that I’m doing. I have already started in my brain. So, in a way, this idea of going to this “repertory” piece feels really fucking weird because I’m not interested in indulging nostalgia, I’m not interested in fixing myself in time, to be defined exclusively by this experience, which is very definitive and very much me, but I’m also at this point very interested in other things that are also me, and that are other people, and how the work is going to change and evolve in relationship to the changing of my life. So, it’s great to offer it again and practice performing it again. I love performing. I like it and I hate it. I like the call to presence that performing offers. I love that. If it’s done anything to bring it back, is [that] it reminds me that as I go into a new process, I owe it to myself to be very honest with myself at all times about what I am interested in, that I am interested in something that created impact, for me; that I don't have to feel responsible to anyone’s particular notions of what dance and performance have to be, that’s also a really big one for me, that’s increasingly opening for me; and that I can trust my decisions. The things that are the scariest to do or that seem the most ridiculous or more exposing tend to be often the ones that are going to be the most interesting. And as you’re creating, it’s o.k. to walk into your fears. For me, it’s a big driver. Like, I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this thing, o.k. I’m really going to do this thing, like, actually create the music while I’m onstage, like, I’m not a musician. Who the fuck do I think I am? I can’t believe I’m going to do this. I’m going to do it… All these sorts of things. And then it becomes form, becomes its own reality and its own thing to fulfill.

NG: The making it into form might be the artistry, or at least the craft, the making it into form, so that you can put it out there. The frame is how we display, it’s how we get it on the wall. It doesn’t get out there otherwise.

MG: Now, as I’m thinking about these other projects, I’m interested in a different sensibility. I appreciate the balls-out sensibility of this work that we’re showing. I like that about it. But I’m interested in something different. If this work is a mountain, and it has its presence in space, I’m interested at this point in taking a little hike and see what’s the town over there. I don’t want to keep climbing the mountain.

NG: Certainly, from the piece before to this piece, seems like different sides of the mountain. So it does seem like that’s part of your method. It’s not sort of incremental. It might be the pool balls of the side pocket.

MG: It’s funny that you say that because I recently let myself know that that’s o.k. I was looking at how I write on my journal and I write a little bit here, and I scribble over here, and I was like, this is my structure. This is how I think about structure. It’s peripheral, it’s three-dimensional, it’s not linear, it’s collage, it’s illegible—all these different things, the space between things. And I felt so relieved to know that that could be structure. That it could be a way of organizing thought or organizing experience. And I’m going let this really inform how I think about this next project, very consciously.

NG: I think we have to consciously do those things in order not to do what we think we’re supposed to do. We have to consciously go into “mistake,” what feel like a mistake, or else we’ll veer away from it.

MG: Yeah. I agree.

NG: And that’s what artists seem to do, a lot.

MG: Yeah. The weird taboo spaces.

NG: Thank you very much, bye bye.

MG: Bye bye.

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Miguel Gutierrez

Miguel Gutierrez lives in Brooklyn and makes performances, music and poetry. He is a 2016 Doris Duke Artist. His most recent work, a queer trilogy called Age & Beauty, was presented whole or in pa...
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Neil Greenberg

Merce Cunningham Dance Company 1979-86; Dance By Neil Greenberg 1986 – present; Dance faculty – Eugene Lang College, The New School (currently), UC Riverside, SUNY Purchase and Sarah Lawrence (previou...
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