Constellations and Influences: Enrico D. Wey & Jon Kinzel
April 5, 2013
In 2012 Danspace Project presented two historic Platforms, Parallels and Judson Now. In 2013 we continue to explore artistic constellations and lineages. What web of connections do new generations of artists trace? Who are their influences? This season we ask each artist to share a significant artistic influence. Below are Enrico D. Wey and Jon Kinzel’s responses:
Jon Kinzel: When asked to write about artists who have influenced me my brain gets into a going-berserk-on-me state while at the same time I feel content to consider the many artists, both living and dead, whose work I value. More specifically, while I have over the years focused more intently on following the development of certain artists, I am reassured by the fact that I will always be able to turn to another artist unknown to me to help destabilize a sense of familiarity and experience art anew.
As this brief text is meant to touch on artistic influences in my life (rather then ruminate on the subject at hand and attempt to write a comprehensive list, or on the nature of inspiration) I will contribute a spontaneous short reply of artists who I like a lot – some names that come to mind at this moment … the writer Joan Didion; musicians/composers/singers Shirley Horn, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Elvis Costello, Beethoven, Jonathan Bepler, Vivian Stoll; choreographer Merce Cunningham; comedians/actors Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Buster Keaton, Lily Tomlin; painters/sculptors/mixed media artists Richard Tuttle, Bruce Nauman, David Hockney, Matisse. Within any of the mentioned categories I could add more names.
I feel fortunate to have collaborated and or worked with many artists, composers, musicians, choreographers, dancers, performers, poets, directors, and designers.
Thank you, Jon Kinzel
Enrico D. Wey: My most significant artistic influence would be the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa helmed by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler.
Over 30 years as a company, Handspring has always committed to the work at hand beyond instilling life and breath into a puppet that literally stands in front of them. They devote themselves to a role, a project, a performance that truly engages their beliefs and practices without asking where it will/could lead to – do the work to do the work, live in the experience as it unfurls in front of you.
As a member of Handspring, as a puppeteer, Adrian and Basil have told me that the breath is the heart of the puppet, that the greatest difference between an object and a living body is that the puppet needs to struggle to live. There is no doubt that a live body is present, but with a puppet, the manipulator needs to breathe presence into the object to prove that it is living.
These experiences, channeling all of my mental presence into an object as I continue to be a fully visible presence onstage, have fueled my own considerations as I build my own work. The ability to disappear on stage. How do we reappear? What is seen? How do we keep living and experiencing this altered state of performance?
It all spirals back to my constant preoccupation with the notion of displacement: The displacement of presence within a performing body, displacement of focus and perception for the performer and the viewer, displacement of visual aesthetic in a performance context, and even my own geographical/cultural displacement growing up in vastly different parts of the world.
Handspring posed these questions early on in my creative mind and they continue to gently request an answer. The amorphous, impossible task of finding an answer undoubtedly surfaces again and again as I strive to compose each work in different, subtle, yet specific ways.
All this conceptual musing aside, witnessing this prolific company struggle to live after all these years cements the idea that regardless of the obstacle, the act of doing what you love takes time, is unending, and is worth the approach, the attempt, and the return.
They continue to keep me grounded in perceived success or failure, keep me exploring, and keep me rooted in the task at hand. There’s a moment in the fall when it feels like floating. That is the best part. So more than anything, Basil and Adrian, thank you for the push and for taking me this far.
Shared Evening: Marýa Wethers / Enrico D. Wey & Jon Kinzel runs April 4-6, 2013 at Danspace Project.