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Monday, 16 February 2015

Tomáš Procházka (CZ)_interview by Orsolya Bálint (KÖM)

Mimesis we try to skip for good
In their audiovisual freestyle concert, Handa Gote Research & Development led by Tomáš Procházka (CZ) merges dance theatre with audiovisual installations, live music and technologies on the first Performing V4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents in Prague, on the 28th of February, at 9.30 p.m. in Studio ALTA, followed by a chill out party by Federsel & Mäkelä DJs. We talked to Tomáš about their ‘holistic’ approach in mixing various media, including found footage, hand-made and recycled objects and the method of chance operation in the creative process.

You group's name Handa Gote means “soldering iron” or “soldering gun” in Japanese. How does this apply to you and your artistic work?
It is the basic tool for working with electronic circuits. Metaphorically it could refer to ‘connecting’ things. But it was also our basic tool in the very beginning of our project.
You are going to do an audiovisual freestyle performance. Does that mean you improvise, or you have a script of what you do on stage?
Freestyle for us basically means improvisation. But not the kind of improvisation in which you would show skills and mastery. More like a process of discovering. Free of definition, free of expectation. 
You are merging audiovisual installations with dance theatre, live music and technologies. How do these come together and affect each other during the creative process?
It all goes well together, I never thought it could be otherwise. In the theatre all these components are already present, we just change their hierarchy so it suits our nature. And also, sometimes, we skip some elements that we are not so happy with, like drama, for instance. Or mimesis, this one we try to skip for good. It is interesting to think about theatre performance as a concert or an installation. Jan Švankmajer says that “specialization is an antithesis of poetry”. We personally may be specialists for something, but during the process of creating the performance we try follow something like a ‘holistic’ approach. Therefore everything is kind of happening at the same time.
What kind of instruments are you using in your performance?
That is hard to say, we use many objects, it can really be whatever. We try to make things by ourselves, or use ready-mades. Hand-made factor is very important for us.
You are going to use ‘found VHS’ as well, does that mean you are not altering (cutting or directing) the footage? What attracts you as an artist to use these tapes?
We may mix them with other found media, analog or digital. In our work we often deal with media archeology. Found footage serves as an antidote for typical artist’s narcissism. We just use some material, over which we had no control and we try to adapt to it. We have the medium and together with it, the message is appearing. We also like to use chance operation (neodada art and music composition form originating from the early 1960s, using chance as a structural operation to avoid habitual ways of thinking and to create something natural and vital through indeterminacy), being greatly inspired by John Cage (American composer, partner and collaborator of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham).
You will also play music at the chill out party with Pasi Mäkelä as Federsel & Mäkelä DJs. For how long have you been working together?
We have known each other for about four years and have done several projects together. It was mainly music projects, but Pasi was also part of Handa Gote’s last performance The Rite of Spring.
Which music genres or musicians do you get inspiration from? 
We are active in free improvisation scene, which means we are inspired by all free form genres, for instance noise, music concrete or psychedelic music. To say one name, I would mention John Cage again. Or Captain Beefheart, to have another one.
You will play some really hot salsa and cumbia tunes at the chill out party. What do you like about latin music?
We found out with Pasi that we share the same passion for latin music. It is dancy, kind of old-fashioned and usually very well sounding. It is definitely the best to see a salsa orchestra live, but if you can’t, it is fine enough to play some good old tunes from the proper vinyl record. We will do this for you.
What did the possibility mean to you to work in the framework of VARP-PA?
It was a great opportunity to concentrate on our work, being together in a previously unknown, yet friendly environment.
What other countries do you regularly work with within V4?
Regularly perhaps only Slovakia and Hungary.
Have you ever been in this residency program before?
Not yet. But maybe in the future, we will be again.
How were your first experiences?
Generally positive. We managed to keep good vibes and stay inspired.
Who would you recommend the VARP-PA program to?
To anybody willing to change their working place for some time. In our case preferably some visual artists, or media, installation or performance artists.

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