Just keep on folding



In the PARASOL Talks, the persons involved in the artistic training project PARASOL – a dance group of Tanzquartier Wien – meet with Luca Büchler and provide insights into the creative process of two pieces that are being developed over the course of a year. As the rehearsal for the second performance, The weather is nice, let’s picnic by Oleg Soulimenko, is in full swing, Luca Büchler sat down with Nadine Mathis and Yuwol June C. to talk about the new connections they’re forming with and through material, but also between each other.

Luca Büchler: During a quick glimpse into your rehearsal, I saw a pile of fabrics. Can you tell me more about it?

Yuwol June C.: It’s a good representation of our work process. We have the pile, and then everything emerges from this.

Nadine Mathis: It’s not only a pile. It consists of many fabrics of different shapes, colours, sizes and weights. We’re combining them, trying to create forms and finding ways to move with them, alone in a solo or with one, more, or all of them together.

LB: That sounds exciting! What did you do with them?

NM: Today, for example, we experimented with the difference between messy and neat interaction. Sometimes, it’s chaos, a big mess, or a node. But the mess sticks better together than neatly folded fabrics because they slip apart more easily. Experiences like these are part of our current process.

LB: You’re more than halfway through the rehearsals for the work, The weather is nice, let’s picnic. What is new in this process compared to before?

NM+YJC: The process of the picnic is more like SCHOOL, and SCHOOL was more like picnicֹ. Laughs

NM: I like that we are now very invested in the material. In the first performance, the material was us. Now, it’s about the materiality and functionality of things and how we can deal with them. I enjoy not being in the focus. And sometimes, our goal may be to shift focus. One second, the performer is the protagonist, but then the fabric is the protagonist. Occasionally, we try to disappear as people on stage and just make things work or make them look like they work by themselves.

YJC: But then we are showing this hidden part as well. The audience can sit on two sides of the stage rather than the conventional one-sided seating. The side you usually do not consider as visible is accessible to them. On top of that, I believe we are experiencing a ‘fold of time’ in the process. We develop something independently and then interweave it together. We stand on individual islands, then try to interact somehow and come together. A certain sense of timeline is happening here, a sudden emergence of things going into something else.

LB: Reading the text of the performance online, ‘the fold’ plays a big part. What is this fold for you?

NM: For me, the fold is a shape that is gone as soon as you stretch it and leaves no traces. But then you may create new shapes, and as soon as you pull the thing, it is this whole fabric again. And that’s also how it feels in the process. We craft something, and then it’s gone again. I ask myself, will this stay in the piece or become something else? This train of thought is the core of what we do. We craft shape and movement, and then it unfolds again.

YJC: The first thing that comes to my mind is the hidden pockets. They exist but are invisible from the outside. When you reverse it, there’s another pocket forming from inside. This weird sensibility is what I’m getting all the time in our process. What I also closely relate to this image of the pocket is our human subjectivism. How do you say that something is objective or out of human subject? As Nadine said, in the rehearsals now, we repeat construction and deconstruction, form negative and positive spaces, and consider the two viewpoints while performing. I see a lot of connection with ‘the fold’ in this. Stepping out of one side is essentially impossible and could only be speculated as we humans will always linger on one subjectivity even if we want to escape it.

LB: Is there something specific you learn or have learned in this process?

NM: Many orientation points sometimes feel contradictory. And to make it all be there is only possible if it’s not simultaneously. So, it should be in a specific order or timing. And I think it’s hard to find out when, what and in what kind of mode things happen.

YJC: I guess this is all a part of the process, after all. Contradiction and impossibility inherently follow along the folds.

NM: But there are actually those impossibilities because there are so many possibilities. Like, it’s possible to be not seen. It’s possible to be visible.

LB: Referencing the performance text again, it is described as ‘folds of knowledge, memories, secrets, unrealised or forgotten thoughts and ideas’. So, if I understand correctly, it’s assembling all the possibilities and then deciding what you are going for now.

NM: I agree. It seems like the whole thing should not become a final thing. With the folding, you do it, you undo it, and it should never stay in one place. It’s moving on. As soon as one of the qualities or things is happening, it should go to another. Not arriving – just keep on folding.

YJC: It’s never one object. We are folding in the process between every object or scene that emerges. Today, we looked at a work by visual artist Lygia Clark. It’s a sculpture that is stored two-dimensional. But it’s without a concrete form and was meant to be shifted by the viewer. It can unfold or fold in many ways and serves as a good metaphor for the state we explore in this piece.

LB: What do you enjoy the most at the moment?

NM: I was looking forward to these two projects with two totally different approaches – the first dealt with self-reflective and biographical material, and the second circles around objects. Also, working with things is great because I wouldn’t have had the chance to deal so intensely and regularly with fabrics if it weren’t for this project. If you’re looking closely, you can learn from everyday things by paying attention and interacting with them. And so, I like interacting with fabrics and learning from or with them.

YJC: I would also like to add about the interaction between us as a group. We already had a way to relate to each other from the previous project, SCHOOL. And now, we get to know each other, trying something different together, primarily through interacting with the fabrics. I find this fascinating. It is a different mode of interaction. Not socially, but more functional. As soon as we started, we realised we didn’t know how to interact in such ways. For example, we all had to hold the fabrics together and move. We were all connected through the materials. And I remember the first few days of doing this, I felt so drained. After talking with the others during the breaks, I learned that most of us thought the same. Then, after a while, I noticed that we were learning and getting used to each other in a new way.

LB: So, the materials you share build new folds between you.

YJC: Yes, we are creating a new shape between us.

NM: The material and tasks require that we relate differently or develop our relations and find additional or different ways of relating. We keep the one from the first performance, but it’s not helpful in this process or space to connect like this.

YJC: In SCHOOL, we were dancing tango together. The connection with each other was more direct. Now, we’re interacting with the fabrics. It is personally very nice to go through these different modes of working. I find it quite enriching how we get to have diverse interactions and experiences as a group.