Q&A: DD Dorvillier talks about her Danspace Project Platform series
DD Dorvillier masterminds a four-week Platform based on her work at Danspace Project
Thu May 15 2014
Photograph: Thomas Dunn
In 2010, Danspace Project executive director Judy Hussie-Taylor inaugurated Platform, an annual thematic festival curated and organized by a guest artist.This year's edition—Platform 2014: Diary of an Image—centers on the work of DD Dorvillier.
It’s not every day that an artist gets the chance to curate four weeks of programming—especially around her own work. But for Platform 2014: Diary of an Image by DD Dorvillier, the daring, influential choreographer takes over Danspace Project for a four-week event that includes two new projects: a premiere, Diary of an Image, and A catalogue of steps. In the latter, Dorvillier mines dances she created between 1990 and 2004 for a series of free performance-installations. There’s also a book, as well as two weekends of solos created by Dorvillier’s collaborators over the years. As she sees it, the platform is an opportunity: not to isolate the past, but to find a new beginning.
Your platform has been in the air for a long time. Why did you agree to it?
I said yes. Well I said, “I’m interested,” and then it became yes. The first thing I was interested in was to be able to have that kind of space to make a gesture: four weeks.
Did you have total freedom to do whatever you wanted?
Yeah. It quickly became apparent that Judy [Hussie-Taylor, Danspace Project’s executive director] was asking me to do this in the context of the previous platform with Susan Rethorst; it had the feeling of a solo exhibition or a midcareer survey. She used the word retrospective in the very beginning, and it was very tough for me to accept that. When you have produced a certain amount of work—and it’s different for everyone—at some point you have to figure out what you do. Do you just keep walking forward and let those things that you’ve made disintegrate? I do things in a kind of messy, layered way but I definitely have big moments of walking away from something. Literally running away from something and not turning back and not being able to use that stuff that I left behind, because I don’t have enough distance from it. When Judy asked me, it must have been some sort of instinct that thought, I can do this somehow. It’s presented a lot more challenges than I ever would have imagined. It’s a huge endeavor of time and resources to do something in New York City for four weeks. I have no means to do it, and Danspace has very little means to do it. So part of my gut was like my gut from the matzoh-factory period where I was like, “Let’s put on a show” and not really thinking about the implications of it and how that kind of demand affects my personal and physical life. I ended up not calling it a retrospective, because it isn’t. This will not give you an overview of my work whatsoever. I think about it as cracking a whip in the air and seeing the pieces that fall in the moment. Who can be involved? Just because somebody can be there and somebody can’t does not mean that they’re not a significant part of my history.
Are you referring to the Solo Performances portion?
Yeah. My biggest nightmare was the omission. Who is getting left out? And then I was like, If it’s not a retrospective, then I don’t need to worry about who’s getting left out. My instinct this whole time has been to try to reconcile the fact that it’s neither about acknowledging the sum total of my work, nor every single individual. I’m trying to create a situation where it’s open enough that all those individuals can pass through it and take from it and give to it. It’s not necessarily about creating more of my own history, but more about the fact that I’ve been leaving New York and coming back and that this is a place where we can cross paths at a point in time. It’s not a comprehensive look at my work so that now I can move on. I think that’s how I see a retrospective in classical, unimaginative terms and of course there have been retrospectives that aren’t like that at all. Maybe it’s my lack of imagination. Although there are certain critiques that could be made of all of those retrospective gestures: They’re flawed to begin with, because they’re working with the past. I’m personally discovering a lot. You can’t see those works that were made for P.S. 122 when I knew I was going to show them three times, and there was no such thing as touring. But as I look at [DVDs] now, I can see in the bodies that I’m working with our influences, our own personal desires and our own voices emerging. You can see it along the way despite the works themselves, and I’m interested in that story. At the same time, there’s this parallel of the histories that these body practices carry. Not as historical value, but as the capacity that we have to carry information that reads. Just that phenomenon has been really inspiring to me.