in conversation with artist Kristin Abhalter Smith
Flatland, USA
curated by Chris Reeves

Chris Reeves: I think you could be paired up for a show at Flatland. That I might know two different artists making work about the air dancer seemed too good an opportunity not to mine. I’m interested both in how your respective approaches to the air dancer’s infinite performance might transform or complement the possible unforeseen ideas in your collaboration.

Kristin Abhalter Smith: Chris tells me you are into the air-dancer...what is your current relationship with them and what are you interested in exploring?

André Alves: For me, the air dancer has the perfect qualities of the worker desired by the market: never tired, always happy, self-sufficient. And so, I've started to make works playing with the figure of the air-dancer as impossible image.

Kristin: I am also interested in the tragic aspect of the air dancer. I have always been drawn to them because of their duality and how they seem to exist in this place of turmoil and whenever I encounter them 'in the wild' I am laughing and crying at the same time, since their inane comedy seems to enhance the sad nature of their surroundings.

André: I’m looking forward for the dialogue that we can come up together around this. How we can develop an exhibition which translates the dialogue we are having, and the spatial exploration we are making around Flatland, outgrowing the art space, spreading to the factory as physical and symbolic site of our intervention.

Kristin: These sculptures are the ultimate wind bags, and I think of them as characters in a visual opera. Through movement, they embody and emit the wildest range of emotions and I am excited about the ways spectators become participants in the emotional journey. With Fábrica I am experimenting with shapes and evaluating the ways in which the air dancer and the human body are similar and what shapes are most animate. I am having fun wearing the glasses of André’s research considering the body of the worker as I am crafting these bodies through modeling, patterning, and multiple interpretations of figurative representation. I try to make room for as much joy in the process as in the product. I am excited to see how Andrés text, sound, and layers of thought expressions further contextualize the air dancer and bend the narrative of the shapes.

Fábrica results from the dialogue between Kristin Abhalter Smith's inflatable entities, two narration pieces I've developed in reaction to her pieces, and the inclusion of photographic documentation of found at Spiegel Pershing Road's factory.
Developed as a dialogue between the artistic approaches of the two artists and the space, Fábrica tried to manifest the different levels of dialogue that took place during the preparation months for the exhibition, as well as situating this exhibition as a context specific intervention.

Documentation of material found at Spiegel Pershing Road building

Attendees of Fábrica entering the "skin" of an inflatable figure designed by Kristin Abhalter Smith, while listening to the narration piece I wanted to be like the air-dancer by André Alves (full-text and narration bellow).

View of attendees interacting with the sound-sculptural installation placed at the 4th floor of Spiegel. The installation consisted of one inflatable design by Kristin Abhalter Smith and an environmental sound/narration of the text To be able to say we are with work is all we ask (full-text and narration bellow).

I wanted to be like the air-dancer
voice: Alexander Stevenson

I wanted to be like the air-dancer. If I could only be as relentless as the air-dancer, living to the beat of my endless making, a dance of unending energy, unending enthusiasm, unending happiness. I would feel so light inside, grounded by the uplifting making of making, the making of making, the making of making... oh, how liberating it would all feel: never exhausted, never self-doubtful, only dancing to dreams.
If only I could be like those tireless, determined inflatable bodies; to figure out how to find excitement in effort; to develop that ease with which they apparently do things! How light those bodies seem to be? How remarkable is that endless energy!
Oh air-dancer, we look so much alike if put side-by-side. But you wiggle while I wane: unarticulated, misfit, messy inside, clumsy outside. Both our feet need the ground, but while mine stick to the ground of the possible, without choice, yours are an excuse for a lift-off, a propelling point, over which you bloom as easily as you fade. Unlike me, your inner wind does not weight, your energy does not burden.
The air dancer stands alone in the landscape, a lusty picture, like a cactus in the desert horizon, defended by the tossing of thorny body parts, warning that it wishes to make no kin, but to be contemplated at a distance in its full joy. What goes on in its mind? What emotions are documented in this inflated hollow body? The air-dancer returns no answer to these questions, only a constant smile. I am left self-consciously solo. The air dancer dances solo without distraction.

alt : http://www.theandrealves.com/files/flatlandsound1.mp3

To be able to say we are with work is all we ask

We try to know you Work. Compliment you for what you bring us. Your magic makes our sweat be seen as shimmering glitter. How much we grow with that glow! How happy it makes us to do, do, do, do, do…
You refuse no one - how modest - and for that reason you can be found in any place where life is. You turn any space into a stage where our bodies exhibit how well trained are your sweet speeds and our focus. Without you, our bodies wane and attention goes astray. Your speed lingers in our flesh, living archives of the monumental memory of this history of making. What a confort it is to be touched by you, work!
When we do not know about you Work, our heads turn upside down and our hearts agitate anxiously. We do not want to be left. To be without you is to be worldless. And if you withdraw, we turn numb during the day and awake during the night, imagining your return, dreaming to have you back, to practice you, figuring out how to get you back. When we have you, the delight is total. Nothing lacks.
What are you Work? You have the unique capacity to make us one. All of a sudden, we exist, we are alive. We run towards you, Work. We need so much help to live these current times and you bring along your emotional and capital comfort, as an answered prayer. You give meaning to things. Everything makes sense if you are around. And that is why we celebrate you in symposia, meetings, fairs, spreading your name everywhere… Wooork… we all share on arrival a glow in the eye, testimony of our shared dream.
We try to understand your complexity with words, but this task doesn’t prove easy: you are so complex and have so many meanings. So, everyone tries to speak about you in their own way, piecing together to form the image of your distinct facets. We investigate the objects we made with you, the photos of the spaces where our production took place, and we close our eyes, trying to relive the smells, the sounds and the choreographed gestures that became natural to our bodies. We try to unveil you, but this archeology is a vain attempt, because you are as elusive as the deceiving layers of a painting, veiling energy and time under the surface of the image.
We are so connected to you Work. Totally at your merci. But you know that. It gives you pleasure to be elusive - and even wicked. You tell us the plans to treat us with more dignity, but immediately reserve that you might leave at any point and that what matters is the here and the now… Yet, even those empty promises makes our heart pump, hyperventilating, increasingly confused: beating to your sincerity? Or to your deception?
Panic seizes us when you lose your force (or when we lose our force). The spell breaks: have we lost you forever? But then you come along as if nothing had happened, with a renewed vitality. If we could only recover as fast as you… But how to condemn you? We are so needy! We just want for you to seduce and entrance us again, that you place us again inside the productive landscape. You accept so promptly our exasperated want. What does it mater if you estrange us from each other? What does it matter if you tame our explosive nature? What does it mater if our desires wane with your lulls? We will not apologise. No one has ever apologised for feeling love and we love you Work - even if you are cruel. We need you. Don’t ever go away Work. To be able to say we are with you is all we ask.