Julia Bardsley interview notes
Julia Bardsley didn't want her work to be theatre in the normal sense of theatre. She knew she was interested in visual art aesthetics so that objects and things weren't just approximations which they often are in theatre, she wanted them to be art objects in their own right. Through her work she's trying to sort out and test these ideas. She wanted to make a form that worked for her, not adhering to a ready made framework, but creating the framework herself, including all the things she wanted to do: photography, video, made objects and extreme garments. I find this approach to working with different media exciting.
Julia works on a conceptual level but wants to translate those things into something which is much more to do with sensation and something that appeals to a spectator/audience/witness not solely on an intellectual level. This is exciting because it's a place of non control; it’s mysterious but also actual. She believes that's why we are drawn to fictions and things like abstract colour.Bardsley is interested in the idea of proximity.
She's a fan of film and video because it's able to convey detail up close. She's interested in audience proximity to the performer but also in terms of [the audience] as a body becoming aware of their role within a piece of work. Bardsley thinks it's a shame not to use the group of people that make up the audience as a visual or material aspect of the work.
Questions arise such as “What is this relationship between an audience and what it is they're viewing?” “What is their responsibility in this dynamic between a performer and an audience?” Bardsley started looking at the notion of scapegoat mechanisms and mimetic desire – that in a sense an audience is wanting this figure to give them something that they can't get elsewhere - and the figure can never live up to “the expectation of the mob”.
There's an idea of failure built in which is something about being human and witnessing something human so we don't have to do it ourselves, something which interests Bardsley.This is connected to Bardsley's recurrent use of the triangle motif. The idea of the single performer, being at the point of the triangle and audience or 'herd' being a thing pressing into this point of focus, desire or expectation. The 'chosen one' is given high status and at the point it doesn't deliver can be killed, a symbolic sacrifice to absolve us all.There are two specific places in the creative process which give Julia Bardsley the greatest pleasure and probably the most pain.
She likes the start of the process when she has a general idea of what she might be making and what the key themes might be, basically just reading and looking with no directed research in a way. You’ve got no idea how eventually things come together but you have this sort of trust that the important things will come to the surface and somehow have a dialogue with each other. It’s a sort of ‘lost place’, the pleasure of being lost or submerged. Then there’s the time you have to force yourself to start moving and translating those conceptual things into space and materials and shapes. The gathering of the materials/lexicon/vocabulary of what it is you might be working with and the frisson of trying to translate the conceptual into something actual and tangible is an exciting place.
She identifies some points along the process: being inside the world you created and offering that to an audience in some sort of way, the notion of inhabiting a persona and of inhabiting space with objects and the affect the audience has witnessing that moment in performance.