At Basement, we privilege ideas of experimentation, the art and artists are at the centre. This has been the core of Basement since 2008 and is still at the heart of everything we do. Basement Visions is a new initiative to provide artists and their ideas with the support that they need to experiment, grow their work, launch it out of our space and take it to the world.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE THE BASEMENT VISIONS PROGRAMME?
When we were designing Basement Visions, we were reflecting on the various opportunities that are given to artists by venues around the country such as STAB at BATS in Wellington and Matchbox at Q Theatre in Auckland. Both of those initiatives are providing an incredible opportunity for artists, but even though these exist, we felt there was still space for another programme. A large focus for us is supporting artists to develop their work. Typically at Basement, but also across our whole industry, we rush work to the stage. Artists have been thinking and dreaming of their idea over a long period of time but are usually pulling the show together in a matter of weeks. I don’t blame our artists for working in this way as it’s usually due to not having the funding to support a longer development period.
Basement has been known as a development hub for the last ten years - artists develop their practice by actively making their own work and producing it. Five years in, we started to introduce specific development programmes that were about growing skills and honing craft. Basement Visions extends previous initiatives but focuses on slowing down the development process and interrogating work at a deeper level. We have done this by programming the work at least a year in advance and by providing various development pillars along the way.
Basement Visions artists are given our previous PlayScience programme opportunity (two days of paid workshopping), two paid masterclasses (the artists decide who from the industry they might want to come in and learn from), a space to do a showing of the work, a contribution towards paying a Dramaturg, a longer pack in time, rehearsal space subsidy and a development period in the venue before rehearsing, to test ideas.
Over the years, work has been made in our little space that lives perfectly at our venue and has then gone on to tour internationally and become greatly successful.
Additionally, we wanted to provide an opportunity for those ‘mid-career’ artists that are still wanting to make work at Basement. We provide a lot of space for emerging artists as that is a core and necessary focus, but we didn’t have anything in place to support those artists that have been making work in our space for years. In this industry, we have a tendency to view Basement as a jumping off point and from there artists should be working their way to the “mainstage”, yet that is not what every artist desires. And truthfully, in the past, this has been the only viable pathway as far as we saw. Over the years, work has been made in our little space that lives perfectly at our venue and has then gone on to tour internationally and become greatly successful. We want to continue to encourage this alternative pathway.
Another key part of the initiative is to assist the companies in taking their work beyond our shores. We have been building on our international venue and festival connections for a few years now with the aim to potentially link our artists up with touring possibilities.
WHY DID YOU SELECT WORKING ON MY NIGHT MOVES?
In our callout for the 2019 programme, we specifically asked for applications that proposed work that was unpredictable, disruptive, responsive, challenges the mainstream and pushes the boundaries of their artform. Working On my Night Moves promises to fulfil and take this provocation even further than we could have ever imagined. Julia is a phenomenal artist and activist continually lifting up and celebrating the female gaze. When reflecting on Julia’s past works I was drawn to this particular quote which I feel aligns with her body of work:
“[T]he feminism I support is a full-on revolution. Where women are not simply allowed to participate in the world as it already exists – an inherently corrupt world, designed by a patriarchy to subjugate and control and destroy all challengers – but are actively able to re-shape it. Where women do not simply knock on the doors of churches, of governments, of capitalist market-places and politely ask for admittance, but create their own religious systems, governments, and economies. My feminism is not one of incremental change, revealed in the end to be The Same As Ever, But More So. It is a cleansing fire.”(Jessa Crispin, Why I Am Not a Feminist)
Watching Julia perform is like listening with your eyes. Her work is a visual feast filled with symbolism and critical conversations that are responding to our world.
Julia’s first solo If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution… was made in 2015. This work was electrifying, it had humour, beauty, chaos and packed a serious feminist punch which I don’t think Auckland was quite expecting. We then saw Power Ballad in 2017 which delved into the problematic nature of the English language and the patriarchal structures it has been built upon. The final piece of the trilogy, Working On My Night Moves, will continue Julia’s research into gender, representation and power but through a lens of feminist futurism.
Watching Julia perform is like listening with your eyes. Her work is a visual feast filled with symbolism and critical conversations that are responding to our world. Working On My Night Moves transports you to a place where you are floating in nothingness, where time and space are unknown. We observe a scientist-like Julia moving through a dimly lit stage, redefining and moulding a universe that reassesses our current sphere. Julia is a studious performer that requires us an audience to be attentive and listen with our eyes.
The performance language Julia and Nisha use is inherently intersectional. It doesn’t sit within conventional patriarchal structures and narratives, they bend form and experiment with a myriad of ways to engage an audience. Working On My Night Moves encourages the audience to actively participate in the piece. The viewer is given the authority to weave throughout the space and be fully absorbed in the work. Once again Nisha, Julia and the whole Night Moves team are breaking the rules of the traditional black box. It is unpredictable, disruptive and responsive.
Art helps us bear the brunt of world and see it more clearly. In a world that is in complete disarray these makers hold up a mirror to society, they harness their rage and somehow manage to find joy and play within that fury. Come along and see artists working at the top of their game in our very first Basement Visions presentation.
Working on My Night Moves is the first of two Basement Visions works in 2019 and plays 06 - 23 Mar. Book tickets or find out more info here.