Activity and Passivity in Art and Life

Carrie Ahern Reflects on the Speakeasy Discussion around “Borrowed Prey”

Activity and Passivity in Art and Life:

I strive to make work where both myself and the audience are active participants. This is a primary reason why I have stopped making dances for proscenium spaces or traditional venues or why I don’t make traditional modern dances –period. It just kept feeling that I was here and you (the audience) was there. False and dead to me. I felt it didn’t have to be the only way…and that there is a way to make and perform work where we could all be in the room and more present.

Ruth’s words [a participants in our discussion] about her experience working her livestock farm has really stuck with me. She felt that there needed to be enough time to do each task on the farm properly and respectfully. On a livestock farm this means caring for each aspect of an animal’s life and death. Therefore, if you are raising too many animals it becomes impossible to be respectful let alone empathetic. Small farmers, like artists, can suffer burn out, from being spread too thin. But, at our best–we can do wonderful things. Ruth’s ultimate desire for her farm feels linked to my desire for my art–a place of profound richness in which I can pour my generosity and the generosity of the community; a place of discovery and connection to something greater than myself; a place both personal and detailed; a ritual–one many have done before and will continue to do after we are gone. Essentially a link to the ecstatic.

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