Davi Cohen, an E|MERGE Producer, interviews Peter Sciscioli, a Moving Arts Lab Faculty and E|MERGE Alumnus.
Davi: Tell us about your experience at E|MERGE.
Peter: E|MERGE 2010 was my first time at Earthdance after hearing about the space and programs for many years. It was the inaugural year of E|MERGE, and I was invited to be one of seven "lead" artists who initiated a specific project to work on during the ten days we were all there. I was in process with my first evening-length work at the time, and worked predominately on my own, soliciting assistance from a few others to help with choreography and sound. I also proposed to facilitate lab sessions where anyone could share a process of making work in an interdisciplinary way. While the lab sessions were less successful due to people working on several projects simultaneously, I was able to show a work-in-progress version of my piece at the end of the residency with three collaborators who came up from New York. We held open rehearsals leading up to the presentation, and the lab idea fostered my thoughts for the first residency I was invited to curate at Earthdance last year (the International Interdisciplinary Artists Consortium residency). E|MERGE for me was a springboard into my interest in community building through artistic exchange with other artists, a fascinating observation of group process and dynamics, and an introduction to a place that has come to mean a great deal to me.
Davi: How has it affected your artistic practice? What kind of work have you made since you participated in E|MERGE? Have you continued to work with anyone you met during the residency and if so in what ways?
Peter: Having the time and space to fully concentrate on work is always a gift. I was reminded of what I love about fully immersing myself in a practice, and recognized the importance of continuing to look for that space to work. I also found a lot of encouragement from other participants, and affirmation that my interest in combining forms, for seeking what comes from intersections, is worthwhile, valuable, and reflective of the world at large.
Since that time I've been collaborating on a long-distance duet with Ana Sofrenovic, an actress and vocalist based in Belgrade, Serbia, whom I met at a Meredith Monk workshop in New York in 2006. We began working together the summer after E|MERGE and just returned together for the first time for this year's International Interdisciplinary Artists Consortium residency, and co-taught during the Moving Arts Lab. I've also participated in and contributed to others' work, namely Daria Fain and upcoming with Tatyana Tenenbaum.
Of the people I met during E|MERGE, I've kept in touch with nearly everyone. Some whom I met briefly beforehand have become closer friends, and it's been great to consider everyone a colleague. Some are participants in a monthly singing circle I initiated this year, others I'm in dialogue with about artistic ideas, and generally all are part of a network I feel very fortunate to be a member of.
You've worked a lot with the M6 Ensemble (performing the music of Meredith Monk). Tell us about that work and whether it resonates with any experiences you had as an E|MERGE resident artist or draws upon skills, insights, and questions you developed through your residency.
The M6 formed out of a desire to continue learning Meredith's music in more of the oral tradition that she engages with, and also to help preserve her work for future generations. The six of us worked together for the first time during the same workshop at Carnegie Hall where Ana Sofrenovic and I met, and we formed the group in 2008. While in this case we've been in service to one artist's work, there are similarities in how we've reached group consensus to what I experienced during E|MERGE. For me personally, time during E|MERGE was a chance to explore more of my curiosity about the voice and body in ways both similar and different from Meredith's work. Feeling part of a lineage has been important and meaningful for me. Simultaneously it's been essential for me to discover my own voice. E|MERGE helped me to recognize what interests my generation, what kinds of questions we're asking collectively, and what kinds of models and structures we can bring forward into the future that will hopefully be of use, not just in the arts, but for anyone who encounters the philosophies, skills, and values we're carrying forth.
E|MERGE brings together 30-40 artists of multiple disciplines for a ground-breaking, collaborative residency that successfully builds a dynamic and powerful interdisciplinary artist network: part think-tank, part lab, part workshop, part performance festival.
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2014's E|MERGE will be curated by Krista DeNio, Daniel Bear Davis, Karen Bernard and Davina Cohen