This piece was produced during her time in a neighbouring SoHo loft, donated for 7 weeks while planning permission was holding up renovations. A neighbour gave her the keys the day after Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States. On giving the keys he said that at this moment in time, the world needs more artists. While working in the loft Zakiewicz was pondering what artists do that the world specifically needs right now. She began thinking more about dialogue and collaboration as part of a process of creating works whereby the end product was of less value than the process itself. For this piece the 4 artists started with a session of brainstorming and debate, then a session experimenting with choreography and materials. They then made this final piece onto a large canvas - the cost and quality of which signaled the completion of this production.
The piece has 2 parts in sequence. During part one Zakiewicz applied paint onto the dancer's bodies and they dance on the canvas with their eyes closed. The dance is a form of contact improvisation whereby attention to the other body, canvas and music is dictating the movements. During both stages attention is put onto the live music played by Lenna, who is improvising in response to the forms of the painting and dancers - like a moving graphic score. During part one Zakiewicz is in control of the colours and also able to call the dancers towards different parts of the canvas using claps - controlling the composition. She also conducts Pierce’s improvised voice and cello signaling when to finish.
For stage two the dancers take control of the colours, composition and conduct the music, while Zakiewicz works on the canvas, with eyes closed but using more painterly movements and brushes, which come more intuitively out of my muscle memory than the dancer’s full body movements.
This piece is about the intimacy of exchange. It's a reflection on the significance of connection and on our primal, fundamental multi-modal communicative affect contours, which are our first experience of life when we enter the world and are how care-givers are initially able to communicate with infants.
These rushes of feeling later become the foundation for our appreciation of music and art and how our bodies are moved when experiencing works of art. This piece is also a response to a current feeling of disconnection and concern for truthful dialogue.
Collaborative Control, 2016
Acrylic and pigment on canvas
290" x 96" (737 x 244cm)
When I first saw Claire's paintings, I was struck by a kind of universality, at the same time that they strongly reminded me of Slavic fairytales. 'Look', I said, 'there's the firebird and he wants the viewer to follow'. I could see the characters very clearly even though other people surely saw something completely different. A great fairytale is both universal and specific.
The setting for the project, a huge Soho loft that had been presented to Claire by the kindness of strangers, put us all in a great mood. It was like a dream of what New York art life should be.
The method, painting by dancer, reminded me of memories made of physical movement: treasure maps, battle plans, peak sexual experiences. In the improvisation I moved around an internal map of conflict and union. It was thrilling to see the dancers respond to my music and I tried to be as responsive to them as possible. I could tell we had all succeeded by the great feeling of closeness afterward, dappled by joyful laughter. We had created an intuitive and caring balance of power, a real harmony that transcended any of the elements physically present.