Inhabiting the SilenceSandra Man and Laura Siegmund on Lethe
From autumn 2021 to autumn 2023, the artist and writer Sandra Man worked on Lethe, a piece on the Tagliamento in Northern Italy, one of the last unregulated rivers in Europe. As a central part of the piece, she invited the dancer Laura Siegmund to the riverbed. Laura moved and Sandra filmed her. Lethe consists of these videos, a composition by musician Judith Hamann based on recordings made on site, and a text by Sandra performed live by Lisa Densem.
Laura and Sandra have previously worked together on many projects (Choros, 2018; Chora, 2019; Aeon I-III, 2020-22, Nackte Erde, 2020/23) and they are engaged in an ongoing conversation on movement, landscape and silence. For Lethe, Sandra and Laura went to the Tagliamento in September 2022. They spent time with the river, always going to the same area near the village of Carnia, at the delta of the Fella and Tagliamento. After their last stay there together, they started a written dialogue about their work with the landscape, in which they sent each other questions about it. The text was finished shortly before the premiere of Lethe in Berlin in November 2023.
Laura’s Questions, Sandra’s Replies
LS: During Aeon, a trilogy you started in 2020 and that was performed on an abandoned site in Berlin for three years every summer, there was a pretty clear desire from you to focus on outdoor work – at least that’s how I remember it. I’ve also never worked with you in a studio since then. Was there a particular moment, maybe even a key moment, when that shift to outdoor work became clear to you?
SM: My work outdoors started in 2017 with Christine Börsch-Supan, a singer and performer I was working with then on speaking my texts. We met in summer in Obervellach, a place in the Austrian mountains where my father’s family used to live and where I regularly go to get away from the city and write.
I come from a family that for generations went hiking and climbing, and I was taken up the Austrian Alps at an early age; but since my adolescence I had a resistance to mountains that lasted for many years. The part of Austria where I grew up has an impressive mountain landscape and is fundamentally right-wing; nature has always been ideologically abused. The neofascist party that was in government when I lived there used nature and particularly the mountains as symbols for their power and as an expression of “naturalness” – their right to belong to the place and to exclude and expel others. The extremist right-wing politics of the 90s contained echoes of historical National Socialism. My biography contains a complicated mix of landscape and politics. From the window of my room in my parents’ house, for more than ten years, I looked at the Karawanken, the mountain range that was abused as a border between former Yugoslavia and Austria, between Eastern and Western Europe, between “us” and “them”. I grew up in a strong anti-Yugoslavian and anti-communist atmosphere, both in private and public. And while almost everyone and everything there was very much about being “Deutsch”, about blood and soil, and healthy, natural and non-queer bodies, I felt different, like I wasn’t “normal” and didn’t belong in many ways. I therefore couldn’t identify with the majority who “owned” all the categories related to “nature”. I found no place for myself outdoors, so I turned inward instead: excessive reading.
And then in 2017, by an accident that I probably set up for myself, I suddenly happened to be working outdoors artistically. Christine and I wanted to make sound recordings of her speaking outdoors, and in order to escape from the noise of traffic, we went higher and higher up, until we ended up hiking up the mountains. There, up in the mountains, we rehearsed and I started filming her moving and speaking. I took my phone for filming, just for taking notes. But the videos were interesting – also in relation to the spoken text – and we used them in an exhibition I made with Moritz Majce in 2017 in Klagenfurt, curated by Nora Leitgeb, at Kunstraum Lakeside.
Something happened during that summer, working outdoors felt so right. I think that through my texts and my artistic intentions, through being with somebody who loves to be in the mountains and who had nothing to do with the history of the place and my story with it, and through a different body practice that wasn’t exercise or sport, I re-connected to nature. And since then, it truly feels like a re-connection, I can sense that the outdoor environment has always been a familiar one for me. But by working there artistically, I now relate to it differently and more autonomously, I can fully be with the landscape, in its presence. I am not busy fighting its conventional representation anymore.
After that re-initiation in 2017, making videos in various landscapes became an essential part of my work. Between 2017 and 2019, I shot various short videos outdoors – in Lausitz, in Berlin, in the mountains in Austria and some other places.
And then in 2020, the piece Aeon that you mention and that you were part of, was the first live performance that was no longer in a studio. It was clear from the beginning of making Aeon that it would take place at this abandoned site in Lichtenberg, Berlin. And I remember at first we still met in the studio a few times, but soon it became clear that the speaking and moving needed to be rehearsed on site and only there.
At some point during Aeon, I started to realise why the outdoor environment is so right for what I am doing. I am interested in creating and feeling an intensity of being here, of being on earth. And very concretely that means relating to, embodying and being moved by what is already “there”. Of course, in a studio there is something already there too, but at least for me, I need a specific place that moves me, not a general or neutral one. I am not interested in filling up a space with my ideas. I am interested in what is already there before, with and after “me”.
LS: Lethe will be presented in art spaces like theatres and galleries. How does it feel and what does it mean for you to bring the outdoor work back indoors as an installation?
SM: I want to share the strange experience of being on earth with others. It is in specific landscapes that I find this feeling and this strangeness. I look for different ways to share that, sometimes the landscape is the place to invite the audience to, as in Aeon; sometimes there are reasons not to use the landscape as a space for the public, but rather go there myself, be there, and feel something that can be brought back.
It's interesting to think about the difference of showing my work indoors and outdoors. I think the main one is as simple as it is complex: in Aeon we share the experience of the landscape together, we are all together “on site”; in Lethe, it was only me, you and Judith who encountered the space; also, we went to the river in the smallest possible group: no team, just you and me, or just me and Judith, or me alone; with very little equipment, just a tripod and a pocket cam. Intuitively, it was important from the beginning to not intrude, to be careful when entering the place.
Lethe is based on our specific experience of the river. In the piece, we share the sensations we had in the riverbed; to be able to share we use our respective artistic media – movement, video, text, sound. The audience does not have an immediate encounter with the landscape. They can only feel it through us. The mediation is stronger and that means the difference between inside and outside becomes visible: When people watch Lethe they are not in the riverbed, they are in an art space. And that’s where the tricky part begins: What is the relation between the audience and the landscape that is elsewhere? In what sense can it be “brought back” to an art space? Or, in what sense can the public be “brought there”? And, maybe, first of all – is it about bringing “it” back or bringing “them” there? I will try to describe the process from outdoors to indoors.
In Lethe, several perceptions of a landscape meet: you were moving in the riverbed, I was filming you; I was writing there; Judith was recording sound on site. Each of us was trying to be as open, curious and receptive as possible. We rather “received” the material rather than “produced” it. Our work there was very relaxed. We took our time to meet the riverbed, to listen to it.
After our trips to the river, we processed the material that we received: the videos were edited and so was the text that is spoken live by Lisa; the recorded sound became a composition by Judith. Lethe as an installation is a meeting place for the different expressions we found in relating to the landscape. We invite the public into this new setting of music, movement/image and text.
It is interesting to reflect on the long process of transformation: When I edit the videos I feel like I have to listen again. I have to find the inner logic of the clips, I have to find the right rhythm, the right atmosphere. I want to find something that is already there and make it visible, tangible. It is similar with the text and its editing. I think what we “bring back” is a translation into words, sounds, videos that tries to be faithful to the landscape.
Being “faithful” is relevant for my relationship to landscapes. I don’t want to abuse, manipulate, betray it. This certainly has to do with my biography. I would like to respect the landscape; not use it for something, but let it be. Artistically that’s why I love descriptions. I know that description as a genre sounds cold and detached. But in my understanding and in the way I want to practice it, to describe is to be really close and intimate. I describe with my body. To describe is to be touched by something and to touch it in a way that comes from listening, that is following an invitation. Something invites description and depiction. It calls for words.
I think that all three of us – you, me and Judith – describe the place, in words and images, in movement and in sound. We want to be close to it and true to it; to go to the limit of inside and outside without destroying its difference. The distance that is present in descriptions is that of closeness – to be really close to something, it needs space. Otherwise, you cover and overwrite it with yourself, your expectations, projections, rejections.
The setting in Lethe gives a lot of space to the audience. There are four big projection walls, the audience lies and sits on a carpet laid out between the screens; Lisa speaks the text at the beginning, as a prologue, a meditation, and Judith’s sound is there all the time, in different intensities. There is a lot of vastness in the setting that echoes the fields of stones in the riverbed.
I think what we can “bring back” in and with our words, sounds, movements and images something new emerges – an imaginary space. To watch and listen to the outside – the described and depicted landscape – allows an inner space to open up, in each person there. And this is what we feel in the room, what is there between us.
The videos, the words and the sound open an inside to an outside and vice versa; they create an elsewhere right here and now. They are rabbit holes to another place inside of you.
LS: With our first outdoor work Aeon, the texts had already been written before we found this particular space on the abandoned site in Lichtenberg, Berlin. During the sessions with the performers on this site, you wrote new material, which was then presented three years later in an installation, along with video and drawing.
I'd like to hear some thoughts about the relationship between writing, bodies (your own and others’) and landscape in your artistic practice. How does that work in our recent work on the Tagliamento?
SM: Yes, it’s always movement, image and text – and since Telos, also sound by Judith. It needs more than one relation and the different forms of expression contact and touch each other.
I write with my body. When I write, I go to a place. The landscape is the source for the body writing and the body moving. I am tempted to think that my writing and your moving come from the same source – the listening to the encounter of the inside and the outside. I think I need the outside to feel the inside. For me, writing is probably always describing. Listening to how the outside makes sense inside. How it moves me – and that means evoking words and the certain rhythm in which they appear.
LS: What is your artistic interest in the landscape of the Tagliamento?
SM: In every landscape that I am attracted to I can sense a specific relation to the planet, an access to the fundamental strangeness of the Earth and of us being on it. I find the beauty of the Tagliamento profoundly alien. I actually think that real beauty is always strange; it is the site of a difference, an elsewhere right here and now. Maybe this is what was once called sacred.
I sometimes think that the/my artistic relation to a landscape is (like) a poem. A poem allows us to feel and experience what it means that there is language. In poetry language is itself, nothing else. It is not for use, it does not pursue any purpose, it does not narrate, does not inform, does not tell anything. It can do all of that, but that is not the essence; in a poem language is just there, its meaning sounds. When reading or speaking or writing a poem you listen to the sound of meaning.
When I engage artistically with a landscape, I want this unique relation to the planet to be seen and felt. Through text and video and movement I try to make a relation visible that does not pursue any purpose. It is just the presence of being there – existing.
The Tagliamento is the first river I have worked with. It’s a wild river, its streams can flow as they like. The riverbed is not shaped and narrowed by human intervention. It’s interesting that in the case of the Tagliamento wilderness, in the area where we filmed, means extreme calmness. The river is a vast field of stones. Various streams of water run through it, not just one as we know it from regulated rivers. And while it’s one of the last wild rivers in Europe, at the same time, in the area we were working in, the Tagilamento is surrounded by industrial sites, all sorts of factories. It’s a very unlikely area to find a wild site. And although “natural”, it doesn’t look like a natural conservation site. Rather than protected, the river feels abandoned, but not in a dystopian way. This river doesn’t feel “designed” in any sense: its riverbed is not a means of transport; its wilderness is not a tourist attraction. The river – at least the part that we know and show in the videos – seems somehow forgotten or, maybe, left alone.
It is an extremely intense place. Beautiful in an existential way – familiar and alien, painful and liberating at the same time. From my first visit there, I was reminded of death; during my first stay there, I wrote a text about being lost. And the more I go there, the more I get the feeling that it has something of a place dedicated to the dead. A cemetery, but not for anyone specific, a mythological realm of the dead. When I was at the Tagliamento working with Judith on the sound for the piece, it was in May 2022 and it was warm and sunny, I dozed in the river bed. And in this semi-conscious state, I was looking at all the fantastically shaped wood washed ashore there, the brown branches and trunks on the white stones. And I was remembering Lethe, the river of oblivion in the Ancient Greek mythological Hades, the realm of the dead. Remembering Lethe, I think it is about that. It is probably an intense presence of emptiness that I am touched by in the Tagliamento. It is a place where the flow of silence is preserved. And this is, I think, what moves you.
LS: For the Tagliamento, I don’t have a text from you to work with. How do you decide whether the performer works with or without texts in the videos?
SM: It’s an interesting and difficult question. My first impulse would be to answer that I do not decide on this… but of course in the end I do.
I am obsessed by the relation between language, movement and landscape. Sometimes, like in the video Nackte Erde (2020) that we did together, this triangle is incorporated in one body that is moving and speaking in the landscape; sometimes the movement is minimal and the speaking is exposed as in the videos Light (2021) and Frucht (2021) that I made with Lisa Densem and Joséphine Evrard. Sometimes there is no speaking and “only” moving like in Telos (2022) with Assi Pakkanen. But on the other hand, in Telos, there is the editing and the sound that I think work like a text. And, finally, I wrote a text about the landscape in Telos after having filmed Assi there.
For me landscape, movement and language are probably like dimensions and in different works they appear in different ways, distributed across different people and media.
In Lethe, Lisa speaks the text and it has its own appearance – in her voice and presence, and in the darkness before the videos start. The text describes and thus evokes the landscape before it is shown. I had this idea from the beginning, I always imagined that a text would come first. To allow inner images of the landscape to emerge in the audience’s minds before the videos start. Maybe it needs to be like that, because in Lethe it’s so much about inside and outside, being there and being elsewhere. It makes also visible the translations: what is described with words is and also is not the same as what you see in the videos. There is another space, an interspace ready to be imagined.
LS: There is a certain aesthetic at the Tagliamento that you have already pointed out a few times. For example, there was metal rubbish, like rusted wires and crumpled metal sheets, places with the atmosphere of a building site and then the pure beauty of the light moving across the mountains in the distant background. What are the aspects in an image that catch your attention and interest?
How do you go about selecting images? What’s the connection between what I do and the images you choose?
SM: Making the picture starts with you. In a new landscape or a new area in the landscape we are working in, you go somewhere, you find a place and I follow you. I know that sometimes something in the landscape catches my attention and I tell you about it, but even then, it’s more an area that I propose and not a position. I don’t place you and I don’t set a frame for you. For me the image comes from where you are and what you do.
Your way of moving – relating to the landscape, letting yourself be moved by the environment and moving in it – makes the movement come first. I am not filming you or your body, I am filming the movement. The movement takes space, makes space, needs space. This is an important reason for filming you from a greater distance. It’s all about the movement – yours, but also that of the trees, the water, the clouds and the light, etc. And I want all of that to be seen simultaneously, not following one movement. That’s why the camera is static. The camera doesn’t show you; it watches you and the landscape moving.
And I think, in this way, the image also allows the movement of the viewer’s gaze and mind: You can look around in the pictures, they give you space, you can wander around and find something.
Sometimes, there are moments of hybridity in the images. For example, the piece of rusty metal that we found next to the stones and that you are referring to. For me, the relation between the naturalness of the landscape and the remains of artifacts give the whole space another tone, it feels and looks like an installation, a set-up. The whole atmosphere becomes more artificial.
LS: For the first time in our work with video, we watched all the material together. In many scenes, we both liked it when my body looked like it had been photoshopped into the landscape or produced in front of a green screen. How did that happen?
SM: I think this comes from the distance your movement is filmed from and from the structure of the landscape. It’s an impression of alienation. In the end, I think, both appear alien – you and the landscape. There’s an effect of artificiality, although of course nothing was modified technically. It has to do with the meeting of the verticality of your body and the horizontality of this landscape shaped by the river and its bank. It’s the geometry of body and space that becomes obvious in the images and that turns them into something “naturally unnatural”.
LS: You once said that if it looks like Planet of the Apes, we haven’t done anything wrong. What do you mean by that?
SM: It’s similar to the earth is a foreign planet – a kind of motto that I’ve been using in my work for years now. I like the intensity that appears when a place suddenly looks different – alien. When the relation we have to it becomes obvious, because it is suddenly so extremely present, highlighted. I think every time a relation itself becomes the focus, it gets strange. Who are we on this planet? What is this planet to us?
LS: Does nothingness play a role in your artistic approach? I guess it must, because you work with me and it’s present and important in my performance practice. And because I am embedded alone in a large and vast landscape in your work.
SM: Yes, on every level, it’s about nothingness. It needs nothingness for everything to come into being. Nothingness is real, it gives presence to all there is.
Sandra’s Questions, Laura’s Replies
SM: How do you connect to the landscape, specifically to the Tagliamento? What do you see and feel? How do you enter? What tools do you use? What steps do you take?
LS: Getting to the place you chose was already a kind of first step to enter and connect. Without going into all the details of the journey, there were long train rides involving waiting times due to delays, an extra week at your place in Austria, because the weather was too bad, finally arriving at a tiny train station in Italy and then being picked up by the only hotel close to the place. Time had already expanded on the journey.
It’s quite a walk to the riverbed of the Tagliamento from the hotel. We chat and look around as we walk. The further we go into the field, the less it looks like a river and the energy of the space makes us become more and more silent. We enter a bright, vast stone desert, interrupted by different streams of water that have stronger and weaker currents. The sound of the water varies greatly from loud noise to quiet burbling, it’s all there. Because of the different levels of the river bed, sometimes only a few steps are enough to experience a shift from silence to drone.
Deadwood is washed into and onto the stones and sand. Some of it is very dark, almost black, and others are almost white. It is a ghostly world. Some of the wood looks to me like gloomy manifestations of petrified bodies, bones and mummies. Other arrangements look to me like shrines or sites for rituals. I feel like I’m in a sacred space. All this is surrounded by a mountain panorama with ever-changing movements of clouds, light and shadow.
There are small, tender pioneering plants in the river bed and towards the mountains there are also bushes and young trees. There is a family of tiny plants that grow in shallow water. They are jacketed in grass that has washed up around them. Only the uppermost leaves are exposed. The wind makes them move and they look to me like small figures wrapped in protective blankets. These tiny plants in the middle of the vastness touch me. In this place, I think of the fragility of life and unchanging eternity. I have the feeling of being here and somewhere else at the same time.
An unfinished bridge and some truck tracks (probably fetching stones from the riverbed) also create a construction site atmosphere. To get to the river bed, we walk through an industrial area. But we never see any workers – it feels like it’s not working hours. We enter an abandoned site. As a child I loved playing on empty building sites and I was reminded of that joy. There is also a feeling of “no one is watching me here” and freedom.
Strong associations and feelings come up before I start going into the body and it feels good to connect with the environment and myself in a different way now. As always when working together, we agree that I can deal with time purely by my own intuition. I also take the time to choose a place where I feel comfortable to start my journey. I start with closed eyes to intensify the connections to myself and the environment without the dominance of the vision, and to open up to what it feels like to be there in the body. If possible (depending on the condition and temperature of the ground), I lie down. If not, I sit or stand. I have had very different experiences from place to place. There were places where the forces pulled on me to different directions and there were places with an incredible grounding, almost as if I was being pulled into the earth.
The water-filled areas in the riverbed flow in different directions and strengths, some look like lakes, they have different depths and colours, they are at different levels, they run into each other and sometimes, strangely, it even looks like the water is pulled up into the air.
I enter the body by feeling myself touch stones, sand, mud, water, deadwood, wind, raindrops, temperature – keeping it simple and calming down, dealing with this task in a gentle way. I go into my body as I feel my close surroundings. I listen to how all this and the more distant space around me resonates within me, what it does, how it feels in the body, what movements arise and how these movements expand, shrink or take a direction. This is happening within me, but also with my body in space. It’s all very concrete and material, and I follow that for a while deepening the connection to my inner space and to the outside, being more and more with what is most present. Usually then it becomes calmer and quieter, I enter another space. It turns into a silence in which I do not do anything and mostly do not move.
As I begin to build connections, I actively bring the outer and inner spaces into my awareness. Later, after the silent span of time, this happens more in a flow, and moods emerge that cover a wide spectrum from lightness to intense somatic states. There are shifts from direct perception of the material world to intangible, fleeting states or images that then become material again through the body.
At the Tagliamento, I see and feel that both the movement (especially water and wind) and the stillness (the ghostly, vast stone desert with the deadwood) of the landscape are very strong. For what I love about movement, it just fits perfectly. I am obsessed with exploring what movements and states grow out of, with and into stillness.
SM: What makes you move in the landscape and what’s the difference to working in a studio space?
LS: No matter where I am my movement results from my relationship to the immediate environment and from the stillness. What I perceive through these relationships differs depending on if there are walls around me, or if I am in the boundlessness of a landscape. Outside I am in a big, constantly moving space that’s alive, while inside I am in a static, more or less small place, with less life and less movement of air around me. Outside it feels more like a “life in life” and “movement in movement” situation to me, while inside I feel more like being in the spotlight as a living being.
SM: You speak about “listening” a lot. What do you mean by that and how does it change/develop when you work outdoors?
LS: It's not so easy to describe that and what listening means to me is still in progress – but I have already developed it in a particular way and it has become a daily routine, something I practice and train. It has developed into a skill. For a long time, I thought it was a tool for tuning in and opening up. But I have a sneaking suspicion that for my practice listening goes beyond that.
What I mean by listening is noticing and being with the movements that arise through relating, connecting and stillness. First of all, I mean inner movements that can develop into movements with the body in space. Stillness happens for me only after listening for a while, so it’s not just a way of opening up, but continues afterwards. For me, listening starts with the perception of inner movements. I am interested in movements that are not generated by a conscious will. That’s where the magic begins for me.
It easily causes confusion when I use the term “listening” among colleagues, so usually I just don’t do that anymore. The use of listening in performance practice is not at all clear – it can mean many things: relating, connecting, sensing, observing, witnessing what is happening, presence, awareness, curiosity, noticing, listening to sound and music... I guess everyone will figure out for themselves how or if it works at all. For me listening is not the connection or the relationship itself. It is the continuous awareness of the movements I perceive through the act of connecting and relating, and their ongoing changes, the steady transformation. Following a process and progressive inner movements, that is listening to me.
I am listening to a resonance within me. After a while, this listening for a resonance becomes a resonance with what is on the way. These are two different states and they flow into each other again and again. Sometimes one is louder, sometimes the other is.
It’s a very internal thing that happens, which gets stronger as I start connecting to the space around me. I relate to my surroundings, bring it into my awareness, I sense it, but I do not listen to it. I listen to how I am moved by it.
Listening to an inner movement is of course also connecting to it, being aware of it, etc. I just needed to clarify for myself what listening means to me, because there has been so much confusion talking about it with colleagues – and the clarification is still unfinished. Maybe because in that realm of perception there are not many words? I am quite sure, that listening is a kind of tuning for me, which later on leads to a revelation of something, which would not have happened without it.
After listening for a while, I slow down. I try to become as inactive as possible, as far as action is concerned, and active in noticing what is there. I increase doing less. After a while I also let go of the activity of my listening – that’s what I described before as the silent span of time. I practice a state of the greatest possible passivity before something emerges and so what is finally produced happens out of a state in which there is almost nothing. Almost, because I don’t switch myself off – the sensitivity to my surroundings and myself is there, as soft and gentle as possible. Then it’s interesting for me to write the forms and shapes that grow into the space, to produce movements from there, to dance with them or to follow and be with whatever is unfolding.
Outdoors, of course, it’s different from indoors in terms of the sensations and what I perceive and what arises, what is filtered through me – but the “filter” is the same and so is the way I listen.
SM: One day when we were working in the riverbed, you started talking about the difference between what you do and Contact Improvisation. I remember that it was more specifically about the difference between moving with the wind, reacting to it, and on the other hand, finding the wind inside of you. What do you mean by that and how does it feel, how do you experience it? What does it change in the way you move?
LS: I haven’t done contact improvisation for about 15 years and I’m sure there was a lot going on, so I apologise for not being very precise. It was about being in direct physical contact, giving and taking weight, acting and reacting, and starting a conversation based on that physical connection. What I’m doing now has a different approach in terms of the source of the movement. I am connected to movements that develop by bringing the world around me and within me into my awareness, with an interest in inner movements. So it’s just a different approach to movement as an art form that I have in general. The direct contact is not my main interest. It’s about what it does to me, how it develops, how it moves me and what spaces open up through my perception and the way I deal with it. A kind of translation takes place that brings what I perceive from the outside to a human level.
With this approach to movement, inner spaces become present and it feels like they’re expanding and moving. When this happens, the outside is usually also very present for the performer, and this is visible. The connection to the outside intensifies the connection to the inside, and vice versa. For me, it’s moving to observe this. The space and the person start to “shine”. Maybe I’m going too far out on a limb now, but I think perhaps it’s a kind of exposed presence of existence that can become visible and felt? I’m not sure if this answers your question. Maybe you’re thinking about the slowness in how I move? It’s the only way for me to bring the expansion of inner spaces and their movements into consciousness. It needs the duration, the staying, the time, the silence and the resting. Otherwise, this source of movement will not reveal itself. So my approach makes the way one moves slow and present. And when it speeds up, it still comes from what has grown out of that slowness.
I like the situation you mention with the wind. The outer and inner currents felt equally important. My movements were not a reaction to standing in the wind, like leaning in or going along with and playing with its energy. It also didn’t feel like I was becoming one with the wind. It was like being with the outside and the inside at the same time and both spaces had their own life.
SM: How do I and how does my being there with the camera filming you influence what you are doing and how you are doing it?
LS: You being there creates a different frame for me doing my thing. It has an influence although obviously I don’t do it for the camera. The fact that I am not alone doing it as my private practice is most probably doing something with my concentration. I don’t change the principals about how to move and perform. But the sessions are longer out there and with you, so maybe the slight change of concentration, the awareness coming from being watched, feeds my engagement with what I am doing a bit more? It’s not a private trip, it’s shared. I don’t ignore that – you and the camera become a part of what I’m doing.
SM: What do you like about the images we produced? What surprises you when you see them?
LS: What I like about the pictures is the atmosphere created by the vastness and its variations of stillness and movement. There also seems to be a good amount or proportion of both. I like seeing how I stand out in this landscape. I seem superficial, two-dimensional. Another thing I like about the videos is that I can often be seen looking at the landscape. There is something deeply human about this way of looking, like taking and making images, the video itself. The strangeness of our actions and the traces that we leave in an ancient landscape piques my interest.
A really nice, big surprise was to see that what I do works in a video and is possible in that landscape. From the inside and when I was there it always felt like it did, but you never know what it looks like from the outside until you really experience it from there. The stillness that I use as a tool to create movement is very much supported by this space. It could easily get boring to watch with all the silence, but surprisingly that doesn’t happen at all. Or it’s boring in a good way. The one where I come to rest and spaces open up. Spaces of thought, spaces of feeling, spaces of sensation – the silence is inhabited.
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