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Graeme Miller – Country Dance    
Interview Richard Povall / Graeme Miller 31 October 2000

 

   
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GM: The thumbnail of the idea was to use the shapes and structures of English country dance as a largely redundant form of native culture and to use that as a metaphor to explore my own circumstances of living in inner city London really, and seeing the potential flash-points of real culture. That was all I wanted to do.

RP: Do you know where that came from?

GM: It came from being outside the art world. It came from circumstances in my life leading me out of the framework of cultural industries. I wasn’t part of the cultural industry– and I was much more exposed to culture – I was radically involved in the struggle of keeping the head above water in inner city London. And that has informed me an awful lot. That is why that became the topic. It’s opened the window onto something that I now find very difficult to close.

 

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GM: ...on this page here we have the starting point, Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty, describing the hay – ."a cipher of S’s, a number of serpentine lines interlacing and intervolving each other." He saw this as a kind of an example of beauty – the "b" word that we don’t use very much.

 

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GM: These are kind of triggers really – two triggers and the Tarantella, Desire as poison. Desire is the Buddha. It is the notion of – that to a certain extent it is about intoxication, the idea that you poison yourself and the deepest and most religious sense of folk dance is about is an expiation of psychic contamination and feeling part of a quite psychically contaminated world, I was interested in creating something that was not only about that, but to some extent did it.

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GM: Interestingly enough, down here, we have the frightening amount of weeks I would have if I did have eight people. Three weeks rehearsal. This is reality – and kind of core concepts all meeting each other, and everything else is going to happen over these pages, is about the arm wrestle between these two elements. Very telling, that page, in a way.

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GM: I developed this when I was at school, and my exercise books – my rough book and my neat book were one and the same, everything became a rough book. In a sense I have made more of a career out of my rough book than my best book. They are kind of icons, they each one of these things represents is the tip of an iceberg – it represents a whole – it is the front door of something which contains something else. I don’t know if it is influenced by computer iconography – that idea that they are representative of something. I can read this back and they symbolise, represent things.

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GM: Snakes and ladders – a kind of sense of decent, the ladder – snakes and ladders is a crucial concept relating to male and female principals, rational thought, the ladder of ascending human aspiration, the snake the female goddess; the thing that draws us down. They are quite difficult things to say without embarrassment and they are a lot easier things to write because they are symbolic – they lend themselves to the graphic.
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