Mobilizing Subjectivity: An Interview with Victoria Marks
Keywords:Outside In, Mothers and Daughters, Men, Veterans, Action Conversations, Bellows Falls, Victoria Marks, Margaret Williams, Sara Coffey, Ann Kaneko, subjectivity, disability, poetics
HB—The theme for this particular issue of The International Journal of Screendance is community, and when we were discussing this idea as an editorial board, your work came immediately to mind because I think this has been a constant refrain in the works you've made both for screen and stage. I think our readers will be familiar with your work with Margaret Williams from the 1990s—Outside In, Mothers and Daughters, and Men are quite canonical—but they might be less familiar with your more recent film Veterans and your work with what you call Action Conversations. I'm hoping that you could reflect just briefly on those earlier works to think through the questions you were asking with those pieces, and how those questions have either shifted or remained the same in your more recent work.
VM—My work took a major shift when I worked with Candoco and Margaret Williams on Outside In. I think there were a few conditions that led to that change, and those were that I was making a 13 minute film for broadcast, and that I was working with an "integrated dance company," a group of dancers who were physically disabled and non-disabled. The opportunity, I felt I had, was to change the way disability is thought about in 13 minutes. Now, I know that's absurd, but it's also a great call to what choreography could do. Going into the project, I didn't say "okay, here's what I want to make a piece about," or "here's a movement idea I want to explore," as much as to say "please teach me the issues for your community," and then to work with those ideas in as poetic and compelling a way as possible using choreography as a medium. I say that because I think one could walk in with a very didactic approach to representation—"this is how I want to be represented, so let's concretely do that." I think I really wanted to look at it as a choreographic and cinematic enterprise—and Margaret also. But because of that piece, I began to think that there was a way to enter into making things that wasn't so much about "Here's the idea that I have," as much as to say "Let me listen very carefully and think about the ways in which you are interacting and the ways in which you wish to be represented, set alongside the ways in which I see you." So, not necessarily consciously, that changed a great deal of my work, which I started calling choreo-portraiture.