Dramaturgical Clinic – Fu Kuen
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Tang Fu Kuen arrived Wednesday afternoon, November 16. On Thursday, he holds his first session with the group, a dramaturgical clinic that is meant to be a reflexive exercise.
He introduces himself by describing how he works “in 3 ways,” primarily as a curator, but also a producer and a dramaturg. His background is in literature and speech theater, but moved into film and dance. “One primary interest I had was in the moving body.”
He has been an independent during the last decade, working on conservation, and with UNESCO, and different government bodies.
Outside his conservation work, he is actively working with artists in art production, leading a “Double, triple life,” he describes with a grin.
“A mission I defined for myself in my work,” he shares, “Moving from the West back to Asia 6 years ago, to promote artists. It was a necessity I realized in Europe, feeling useless without a position to assert an identity.
There is a need for more cross-cultural flow, and it’s a specific thing between Asia and Europe.
“All I do now is really helping and identifying a set of art makers whose art is interesting and push them in a certain direction and push them to Europe.” With the development of conceptual art in Paris and Berlin, Fu Kuen invited these artists to Asia and vice versa, to broaden the artistic landscape. “For the last 2 years, I’m more like a salesman, a touring, booking agent,” he laughs.
He curated for several festivals and still works as a dramaturg, in projects that are a “Cross with media and performative art.”
His dramaturgical clinic is “another level of reflection where you comment on yourself, share deeper insights… This can be a process for you to reflect and come up with your own confrontation.” Fu Kuen leaves it up to the participants as to how much they want to reveal.
The questions are:
1. What is your biggest achievement, or the achievement you’re most proud of?
2. What positive qualities do you have that enable this achievement?
3. What is your biggest failure? Artistic failure?
4. What is it that you lacked that resulted in this failure?
5. In your work condition, what opportunities and possibilities do you see that will enable you to go on?
6. What are the major stumbling blocks towards your next achievement?
The exercise spurred a lot of discussion and inquiry, which extended the clinic to the next day. On the first session, Latai, Simon, Vicki, Rhiannon and Ly Ly shared their reflections, and raised discussions of perceptions of indigenous Australian dance, as well as taking risks in their work, but also not taking risks, and what these risks mean to them.
Politics inevitably are brought up, and how politics are hindering them from further expressing themselves artistically, how they’ve learned to deal with these politics. In the case of Ly Ly, the other participants tell her how they see her failure as actually something she should be proud of but she is looking at it from a viewpoint with a very high standard.
Friday, November 18, 2011
On Friday, after a movement exercise facilitated by Leigh, the dramaturgical clinic continues, with Cat starting by declaring, “This exercise is hard!” Her sharing takes a while, which prompts Fu Kuen to quip how everyone is so interested in New Zealand.
Fitri shared hers afterward, and for the 5th question, “In your work condition, what opportunities and possibilities do you see that will enable you to go on?”, she discusses this concept she’s beem thinking of, of rainy clouds. She first had this concept when she was 10 years old, when she met an elderly woman, whom she asked to stay with her for 2 weeks, who would talk about the clouds, and a batik motif of the 7 layers of clouds. Fitri is about to research the philosophy of these layers in the batik motif. She asks that maybe this idea can open up any ideas here, and hopes to improve the use of the lighting design in the work she’s thinking of so far.
Doris and Jerome complete the clinic, giving the choreographers different dimensions of reflection to look into, with the practices different, yet still somewhat similar, to their own.
Fu Kuen concludes the clinic by revealing that the questions about weakness, threats and stumbling blocks should also eventually allow us to reflect on “how you would strategically turn your weakness into strengths. For every stumbling block that comes your way, how would you reposition yourself so that the stumbling block actually pushes you further.” He concedes that this takes more reflection, and it’s “Something I’d like to leave you with.”