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spacer Talking to Tania
Dialogue 1
Day 1 02.08.04
Day 2 03.08.04
Day 3 04.08.04
Day 4 05.08.04
Day 5 06.08.04
Day 6 08.08.04
Dialogue 2
Dialogue 3
Dialogue 4
Dialogue 5
Dialogue 6
Dialogue 7
spacerarrow Dialogue 8
spacerarrow Dialogue 9
spacerarrow Dialogue 10
spacerarrow Dialogue 11
spacerarrow Dialogue 12

painting white on white
Painting white on white

Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 1
Day 2 • Tuesday 3 August 2004 • Skyros, Greece

Starting the day:

RL I'm in the breakfast cafe run by the slightly grumpy Greek-American who just said she'd go mad if she lived here. I guess she's Athenian. Everything going to plan so far, Tania, spoke to Andrew, am in the early shift, swam at sunrise, took the 08.00 bus, even bought the white paint.

TK Sounds like you've gone off to work.

RL It feels like that, but a strange kind of work.

TK Strange in art terms too?

RL Yes, because of all the layers and the blurred context. I woke at 3am thinking about it.

TK Any idea what you'll do today?

RL Standing still at the Dioni Hotel, buy temporary tattoos, think about a way of interacting with the cultural festival this evening.

TK Temporary tattoos?

RL Yes, saw some kids wearing them yesterday and thought about applying a whole batch of them and how this could operate within this project.

TK Any other ideas?

RL Working with the leaning house [collapsing into the sea, precarious angle]. Applying white paint in small spots, barely visible. Making some video about shadows and their subtle changes – connected to the sensory perception work.

TK You sound excited.

RL Maybe it's the caffeine kicking in as I wait for the Internet Cafe to open. I feel energised.

TK Are you comfortable with this scattered approach to 'work'?

RL Not really, but it's not about comfort. Being a waiter in Lillehammer wasn't particularly comfortable, but would be more so a second time. Anyway, I thought this was your idea?

TK Was it? We can take it day by day.

RL Feels like we're collaborating on this.

TK We are.

RL Does the bottled water weigh more than the ghetto blaster?

TK About the same.

RL Speak later?

TK Sure.

music lurking
On the boundary with the musicians

body language
Body language

dancing feet
Foot level
End of day:

TK Not only questions.

RL Suits me.

TK I'm not going to ask how it went. It's more of a continuum. I'd like to dip in, here and there, maybe in reverse.

RL The evening?

TK Your shout.

RL I was in and out of it. In fact it was like that all day. Was great talking to you this morning, then e-mailing Day 1 to Andrew, but then there was the shift towards another kind of thinking.

TK Thinking or doing? We've explored the 'in' before, how about the 'out'?

RL We were watching Skyrian traditional dance and music in Linaria, simple as that. I was on the outside like everyone else, then I put the video camera on the ground, thinking I'd get some feet shots, particularly of the Skyrian sandals [a unique combination of leather and car tyre]. Suddenly it all came to life through the camera and people were smiling at me.

Then Sandy jokingly said “ask that man in the blue shirt to sit down”. He'd been asking countless people to move because they were obscuring his view. We were in a restaurant. So I did ask him, because I was on the inside just enough [if I'd been fully on the outside I wouldn't have had the nerve].

TK And he sat down.

RL Yes. It was about the relationship between the dancers [entertainers] and the audience [friends, families, tourists]. His body language was a direct result of what they were doing, which triggered my reaction, which affected his body position, allowing us more contact with the spectacle. He is as vivid in my memory as the dancers.

TK I could say that you're elevating a social interaction towards an artform, but I guess this is the territory we were wanting to explore.

RL Before the dancing began I put the camera on a white plastic table beside the water. It was the only flat surface around. I moved close to the rehearsing musicians and recorded this as a transition situation.

TK You mean they weren't quite performing and neither were you?

RL Yes, I was moving 'in' and they were half in, half out, they didn't notice me. It felt like an intimate moment. Then the table was moved and my camera was gesticulated to, like it had a voice.

I had another in and out later, just before the dancers came on. I was trying to do the same thing, to half-connect with them performatively, culturally even. I stood behind them. They were standing in pairs or threes. The three at the front were most visible to the audience and they swayed to the music, arm in arm. Others at the back were taking shots of alcohol, joking, looking relaxed but probably covering nervousness. I swayed along with the front three, not expecting to be noticed. I've been in that pre-entry point so many times myself, but hadn't observed it in this way before.

When they all moved off into the arena they joined arms and began a slow, simple, compelling step-shuffle, which I tried to copy. I was probably noticed doing this. I'd like to replicate this shuffle-step in some way in my 'actions'.

TK I can't see it working as a solo shuffle. Surely this was compelling because they were all moving in unison.

Standing still by the pool
Standing very still at The Dioni Hotel
RL I don't know, Tania, it's just a thought. I was relating it to my earlier 'standing still by the pool at the Dioni hotel'.

TK Did people notice?

RL I wasn't sure, But Tom and Ari said that most people noticed and it made quite an impact.

TK I don't remember us discussing impact. It sounds to me as if you were more visible than with International Cleaning.

RL Maybe some of them spotted the video camera. Maybe it was the confined context – private hotel, 15 people sitting around drinking after lunch, pre-swimming.

TK Then you went and sat down on your lounger with the others, by the pool?

RL Yes, it was an absolute in and out, work not work, work and leisure. And I struggled with this. Found it hard to talk to the others. Wasn't sure I'd stopped work.

TK Easier to have talked to me?

RL Yes. So I glanced through Tom's book, Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihlyi and found this quote:

We can swallow only one bite, hear only one song, read one paper, hear one conversation at a time.

TK Maybe that's what you were experiencing right then. That standing still by the pool as an action, however simple, was enough, and you weren't ready to step out and be sociable, even though it was Andrea's birthday.

RL How did you know that?

TK You mentioned it.

RL Oh.

TK Was this the first time you've confronted work and leisure, rather than work and not work?

RL This was the tightest transition. International Cleaning began in Venice after a heavy lunch. Maybe I'd never have got down on my knees in St Mark's Square without the alcohol. But I remember having several minutes perusing tasteless silk ties in an arcade before wandering back to join the others.

painting white on white
Painting white on white

painting white on white
Painting white on white

painting the ferry
Painting the ferry
TK Did you experience this awkwardness with the white paint?

RL No, it felt more subversive, aesthetic, painterly even. It was much more of a focussed, detached state of mind, that's familiar in performance and art-making in general.

TK You spotted rather than brush-stroked?

RL Only bought spotting brushes.

TK Were you spotted while you spotted and dotted?

RL I don't think so, didn't want to be this time. I mean, I was painting the outside of people's properties, and later the ferry boat. This could have been seen as intrusive, could have caused a stir.

TK We didn't discuss this. It sounded harmless to me. Think you could have been arrested?

RL Unlikely but possible.

TK But it's as subtle an act as standing still, you're painting white on white. And this was an unrealised project. Think I've seen it written up on the wall of your studio: PAINTING WHITE ON WHITE.

RL Yes, you're right. There's potentially a lot in it.

How do you think it's going, Tania?

TK I don't think like that. It's going. That's enough for me.

RL Any advice?

TK Do you want a thought for the day? [Day 3]

RL Anything.

TK Remember you're representing me, as well this time.

RL Ok.

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