Monday, 3 August 2015

Failure Project Day One: I Am Not Beyoncé.

I'll be blogging here about my failure project, on a daily basis (time-permitting), and cross-posting to social media and the NTW community. 

How to begin?

One of the sources for my interest in failure was the music of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, an art-school orchestra in the 1970s, whose members were unable to play their instruments. They went ahead and recorded popular classics anyway. They are worth looking up  - there are plenty of recordings available on youtube. I love the glorious way they embrace failure, turn it around, and make some astonishing art in the process. I didn't really know how to do something comparable.

On Sunday I was sitting in my garden, enjoying the sunshine and reading the Gob Squad Reader, and skipped to the final chapter "On Failure". This jumped out:

"I'm not interested in ability, but rather the feeling of empowerment; that one empowers oneself to do something. Especially when you can't actually do it. You tell yourself, 'Even though I can't do it, or even though this is now a technically bad do-it-yourself situation, I'll do it anyway.' And this [...] is what is emotional about our work; it gives people a good feeling [...] Because as an audience member, you have the feeling that possibilities are opening up, rather than doors closing. That is the problem with ability. You see it and think, 'that is perfect, but what does it have to do with me?'..." (pp. 119-120)

The chapter goes on to describe "impossible tasks" the company set themselves in their work, and that sounded to me as good a starting point as any.

So today Lara and I started by setting impossible tasks for each other. In the spirit of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, I thought we should aim for something that people might recognise. I chose for her a music video that went viral in the last year or so - Sergei Polunin dancing in Hozier's "Take me to the church" -  because I thought that although Lara's a dancer, trying to approximate the work of a male, Royal Ballet dancer would be pretty challenging:

Lara chose Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" music video for me, specifically the choreography of one of the backing dancers rather than Queen Bey herself (only because she stops dancing to sing at certain points):

It's been such a fun day. It feels really freeing to throw myself into something that I know I have little chance of perfecting. We're both pretty sore as a result, and I need to bring some high heels in tomorrow properly to do justice to the choreography.

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