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Interview James Batchelor - 'Deepspace'

Interview James Batchelor - 'Deepspace'

by Camille Moreels en Lori Tuerlinckx (Soundcast+)

 Camille: What does the title ‘Deepspace’ mean to you?

James: It evokes a few different things for me. First of all it refers to ‘deep’ or ‘depth’, which could be depth of the ocean which I thought about a lot of while on the expedition. But also depth in terms of thought or depth in terms of space. And then space, bringing that into the title. It brings our imagination beyond earth and out into the universe. So I think that connection between the deep ocean and deep space was important for me to bring in before people stepped into the room.

Camille: The performance takes place at different locations, in different rooms. Is it difficult to adapt to each and every room?

James: I would say it is really interesting. It’s a part of how the work has evolved over time. It’s about how to situate the movement and the objects in the space and trying to adapt that to the space depending on what the architecture offers. It opened up a whole research in itself of how to create a space for the kind of experience that I wanted to provide. In my experience it is very much framed by the space. How to find subtle things and hints that guide or help the audience move through it without having to say “Go here” and “Come there”. Finding the more subtle languages, both bodily and spatially.

Lori: Does the performance take different shapes in different countries? Is the behavior of the audience different?

James: It’s not that I could say ‘Latvians don’t do this’, but I do feel in some countries that there is more hesitation to move or that there is anxiety when the show begins. But that could also be due to their experience with this type of work, which depends on the festival in which the work is presented. There are just so many factors; cultural, personal, how comfortable someone is in the proximity of space… It can be more or less challenging depending on where you come from and what kind of experiences you have had.

Camille: You did your research for this work on board a ship. How did you experience those two months on the ocean? Did you come back differently?

James: Of course. It really was a scary thing to put myself into. I was very afraid before I went. It was key to take myself out of my comfort zone and step into something in a humble way. One thing I found remarkable was the fragility of the environment. I found myself in the furthest place you can go from anywhere. It is super isolated and also one of the most important environments for the ecosystem of the ocean. It is the area where volcanic activities feeds the ocean of nutrients. It triggered so many things. Why is this expedition taking place? Why have a dancer here? Why do we as humans need to have this information? What is our effect in that space? It was quite moving. The last two years I’ve been making work only in relation to this experience. That’s how much motivation it inspired in me. It shifted me so much that it feels like I can stay in that space for a while.

Lori: Did you find a new language of movement there?

James: It made me develop a practice in which I ask myself how I can measure and map a space with my body. This gives me an intrinsic connection or bodily knowledge of the particular environment I’m in. I carry this embodied practiced knowledge or map with me everywhere now.

Foto: Morgan Hickinbotham

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