IN THIS EARTHLY GARDEN (2011)
A roving single light illuminates and conceals, in long takes, a night journey through oak and water. Originally screened multi-channel for composer Milen Kirov's performance of '2' in Los Angeles and Germany.
ON COLLABORATION & MULTI-DISCIPLINARY ART
The video above was directed by Emilie Sabath. One day she asked me my feelings about being under water. "I could pretty much live down there" I had said without thought, and with that she cast me for her piece. As for director's notes to performer, I was told to animate the dress.
On set, I met Milen Kirov, the composer Emilie created this video for. Poolside, I asked Milen what '2' was about. He said it was about two people struggling to become one. I decided to embody oneness by surrendering to the water without fear of drowning. On a different night, we went to an oak preserve, got creative with lights, and shot part two.
I never got to see '2' live. But some time later, Emilie shared In This Earthly Garden with me.
Up until that point, I had thought of Earthly Garden as Emilie's piece. Seeing Milen at an album release party for Orkestar Meze, I was reminded art is seldom made by a sole author. A work is ultimately alive because the synergy of life forces contributing. For me, Dan's sound design and score defines Earthly Garden's essence, and I never even met the guy. I also feel Ian's lighting design is the piece's central character. It's the 'nerve' and enigma of the piece.
Though I love performance art, my native element is behind the camera, not in front. But I'm glad I said yes to this. This experience placed me in the performers' instrument. I learned firsthand how much vulnerability, instinct and imagination they have to wear on their skin. It takes hyper-presence and patience. And having worked now with performers over the years, I add to the list: stamina, self-love, compassion and practice.
In This Earthly Garden feels like Emilie, like a world scented by her past. I'm glad she went through the trouble to create this piece.
I have always loved seeing artists of different disciplines work together — not just at the end of a process, an overlay or support role. I welcome joint processes where the "dreaming up" of a work starts early. If you have something brewing, or are otherwise seeking a collaborative equal, feel free to reach out.