third in the series of research session held by curator Grant Watson for Performance in
Residence takes place in Amsterdam from 18 until 22 January 2013. Watson,
together with Frédérique Bergholtz and Adva Zakai, conduct a series of
interviews for his project How We Behave.
The interviews are structured around a mode of gathering material from invited
guests and Amsterdam residents from different generations, by asking them
straightforward questions about their life. Through exercises and questions
that focus on certain activities from a person’s life, an attempt is made to
interpolate some of the particular character and personalities of the city.
How We Behave departs from an interview
of the same name with Michel Foucault, which appeared in Vanity Fair in
1983. In the interview Foucault talks about living life as a work of
art, which we interpret to mean making an art of your life in practical as
well as philosophical ways. Foucault also talks about this subject in
relation to the gay liberation movement and the fact that people with few pre-given
social structures or codes of behavior have had to invent a life for
themselves both individually as well as collectively.
commented: “What strikes me is the fact that in our society art has become
something which is related only to objects and not individuals, or to life.
That art is something specialized or done by experts who are artists. But
couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house
be an art object but not the life?” Elsewhere Foucault expresses his
fascination with the idea that bios itself could become the material from which
a work of art is made, and identifies a precedent for this in antiquity. By
using classical texts, Foucault is not suggesting that people repeat the
practices of the past, but rather that they try to invent new forms of
subjectivity which might start from aesthetics.
sessions took place so far in New York City in May 2012, with a public
presentation at The Kitchen on the 8th of May; and in São Paulo in November
2012, with a presentation in the Nucleus for Subjectivity class of Suely Rolnik
at the University of São Paulo.
Watson also presents the project as part of the Appropriation and Dedication
seminar of If I Can't Dance that takes place on Sunday 20 January at the Goethe
Institute in Amsterdam.