We asked our very busy '13 Rooms' Production Assistants to make time to answer a couple of questions about the project (because clearly they're not busy enough!)
After twisting a few arms - four altogether - Charlotte Hickson and Alex Berlage managed to shed some light on our '13 Rooms' performers - also called 'interpreters' - and tell the story of where we found them and who they are.
Q- How many people are taking part in the '13 Rooms' performances? Who is involved -- is it mainly artists and performers, or are the general public involved as well?
A- Across the 13 works that are being presented we are working with over 140 'Interpreters'. Many have their own practices as performance artists, dancers and actors. Although for some of the works, experience with performance was not required or even preferred. The Veterans who will be presenting the work of Santiago Sierra are an example of some of those who are coming to the project with very little performance experience. This brings a diversity of experience and understanding to the project.
Q- Some of the works have very specific requirements, like the twins required for Damien Hirst. Which works have been the strangest/hardest/most fun to find interpreters for?
A- The search for people for Simon Fujiwara's work was a difficult one. We needed to find tanned, athletically built men who spoke very little English! We blanketed the gyms around Sydney with posters and rang language schools and backpacker hostels.
Finding Damien's twins was also interesting. Our production team became fixated on spotting identical twins - on trains, at concerts and randomly in the street. Social Media also played a large part in spreading the word about our call outs and finding the individuals for the works.
Q- How involved have the artists been in selecting the 'interpreters' of their works? Do they set the parameters and then leave it to you, or is it a more hands-on process?
A- The entire process of selecting the interpreters has been done in close consultation with the artists. From the beginning the requirements from the artist have been very clear, whether it be the length of hair or accent and build. Some people we have approached directly and others have seen call outs and approached us. Every artist has been directly involved with the final selection of people who will deliver their works.
Q- Is everyone performing the artworks in '13 Rooms' Australian? What do you think is significant about having Australians interpret these works?
A- The majority of our 13 Rooms interpreters are Australian, yes. However not everyone. Some are coming from Europe just for the exhibition, some have lived in Australia for less than two months, some are even moving to Australia two days before the production begins!
Many are engaged and connected with performance practices all around the world and travel and perform internationally themselves. Some have previously worked with Xavier Le Roy and Tino Sehgal and have participated in workshops with Marina Abramović. Although the majority Australian based their experience and backgrounds are diverse and varied.
The interpreters that we are working with highlight the strength and diversity of Australian performance practices, but what is most apparent is that their work is not disconnected and separate from practices across the world, they are already part of an international conversation. 13 Rooms is strengthening already existing connections and dialogue on performance.
Watch Episode 4 of our 13 Rooms documentary series to get a sneak peek of our interpreters, as well as an interview with Production Manager Pollyanna Clayton-Stamm and Sydney Dance Company's Rafael Bonachela.