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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Herold/Palman (H)_interview 1st part by Orsolya Bálint (KÖM)



The secret is adapting to constant change and accepting limits
Accompanying the first Performing V4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents taking place in Prague on the 26-27-28th of February, the fine art exhibition titled CONVEX PROJECT – ICONS OF WAITING AND WASTING created by Eszter Herold & Zsuzsi Palman (HU) gives us a very intimate and sensitive point of view on the 9 months of pregnancy. We talked to Eszter and Zsuzsi about their exhibition open until 8th of March, in Alfred ve Dvoře Theatre. Eszter answered us in the first part of the interview.

Your work CONVEX PROJECT was originally designed to consist of 9 parts (ICONS), just like the 9 months of pregnancy. The ICONS 1-2-3 were about waiting for the conception to happen and dealing with the feelings arising from this waiting-wasting period. Then life took its own course, and you became indeed expectant. How did this change the original plans?
To tell the truth, when I was making the third ICON called WHITE for the New Europe Festival Tour, I was already pregnant. I had one and a half month to work on the choreography, from April until the middle of May. On the first week of April it turned out that somebody already lives inside me. I was ineffably happy, but I had to deal with a really sad and dark topic. It was hard and I couldn’t change it, because time was short and the conception of WHITE was already ready. After the tour of course I had to think over the whole project, the stations which were still waiting for me and the changes which my body will make. I have never been pregnant before (that was also the inspiration for the project), so I could just approximately predict my physical state and power for the coming months. I have tuned the VARP-PA project accordingly – I kept the ICONS and the topic of waiting, but I was focusing already on the reality of pregnancy, the sensitivity of the female body and this special state of mind. And I was lucky, that my body and my son were strong enough to assist my artistic endeavors and my plans until the last days actually. 

The following four ICONS (which you will also present on the Biennial exhibition) were already made when you were expecting your first child. How did the changes in your body and mind influence your artistic work, especially your dance performances?
The three weeks period of the VARP-PA residency was the time where I really had to change my daily training routine. Making WHITE was still a powerful sequence – it was just hard to decide which movements are still not harmful for the baby. And of course the feeling of sickness, the constant dizziness and weakness made the work pretty hard. From the summer on I became slower and slower and I had to learn to deal with this slowness. But my mind was still very awake, so I could work a lot, plan and write a lot and I could make nice (and slow) choreographies accordingly with my constantly changing body. During making the 6th ICON titled VISITATION, we already had to change some movements I have set in the beginning of August, which I already couldn’t do in the second half of September because of my baby bump. The only secret was to adapt to this constant change and to accept my limits which were also changing day by day. I had to keep the small details of the project flexible.

You have finished the last two ICONS for the exhibition on the Biennial. What will these be?
All the ICONS are ready. We have planned even more silent and static ICONS with Zsuzsi Palman. We knew that in the last months I will be unable to dance and I will want to concentrate on my son already, so we made the plan: the first 6 ICONS are dance ICONS (the 4th and the 5th are dance films – recorded during the residency, edited and finalized at home in Autumn), the last three are dealing more with fine art. As a 7th ICON, we have planned 9 POSTCARDS (reflecting on the 9 months of pregnancy). I was the model of Zsuzsi, she was painting, making photos and beautiful collages, while I have written lyric texts for all the postcard pictures. The 8th ICON is a MOON CALENDAR for 2015 – using the pictures and details from the choreography of VISITATION. And the last ICON is a 3D WINDOW installation, a sculpture made from the old window of my grandma’s house. All these works will be exhibited on the Biennal in Prague. Since the scholarship period was a common experience and a common challenge for us with Zsuzsi (she is a visual artist), we have shared the work this way. And I think it was a good decision.  

What did the possibility mean to you to work in the framework of VARP-PA?
There are THREE very important things how VARP helped our work:
financial support – this is very important for independent Hungarian artists, who are working and creating most of the time from nothing.
the possibility to hide for three weeks in a city abroad, far away (and still not so far away) from home, in a foreign (but still familiar) environment, where we could work intensely, undisturbed and unworried. It was marvelous, thank you for it!!!
promotion – actually WE have promoted Visegrad Fund – but everywhere we went at home (theaters, studios, other promoters) people took us more seriously because of this VARP-PA scholarship. And it was good to feel this. Beside of that, now our project can be part of the Biennal, where we have the chance to meet other artists, theater makers or owners – this is important for our possible future.

What were your first experiences during the residency program?
It was really professional. Everything was great, the organization process, the hosting theatre, the technical conditions, the city we have travelled to. And I think it is important to be apart for a while from the usual environment, it is good, that we HAD to spend some time in a foreign country, still not overseas, but in a country a bit familiar to Hungary. So I was abroad but still at home. 

Who would you recommend the VARP-PA program to?
For independent artists who take themselves seriously. 

What other countries do you regularly work with within V4?
That was still my very first experience with V4 – but hopefully not the last. I am a member of L1 Association (led by Márta Ladjánszki), and we have many good contacts and artistic co-operations with foreign artists and organizations, especially within V4. So I hope I will still have the chance to use this pulsing network of L1 to broaden my artistic perspectives.

Have you ever been to/performed in Prague before? 
I love Prague, I am there almost every year once – I already have my favorite bakeries and pubs. I have performed three times in Prague, first in 2001 with MAPA (Moving Academy for Performing Arts), second time in November 2013 on the New Europe Festival, third time on the TOUR of this festival in May 2014.

What do you hope to gain from participating in the Biennial?
The opportunity to show my project and the serious and sensitive topic I was dealing with. I personally cannot be there because of the result of my project – I have a little son, who is still very young. It is a pity that I can’t address the audience of the Biennial personally – I just can send my videos and dance films – actually all the ICONS we made. But Zsuzsi will be there, and she will represent the whole project and will hopefully stand in for me as well.

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