PERFORMANCE ARTIST LAUREN BRINCAT IN CONVERSATION WITH OUR CREATIVE DIRECTOR MARILOU DADAT
We are excited to partner with Australian artist Lauren Brincat, for her Vivid LIVE performance at Sydney Opera House. Sharing a love of colour, textile and shape, Kowtow dressed the artist and her collaborators in a Bauhaus inspired uniform.
‘Tutti Presto fff’ responds to the site of the Opera House, translating the visual and historical gestures of the building into cloth. Collaborating with her performers through movement, intervention and sound; Brincat invites us as the audience to pause, look, listen and feel.
Our Creative Director, Marilou Dadat, spoke with Lauren Brincat in the lead up to her performances. Read their conversation to find out more about the creative partnership.
So, how is it going?
We had a soft run yesterday, it looks so beautiful. I’m so happy because the weather was windy and it was a perfect sunny day with a crisp in the air. It just looks so magical in the space and you could really see the notes and the tile details when it came up. Yeah, I’m very happy.
I would like to hear you talk more about the performance, and understand where this work comes from. How did you start with the show?
I feel like, really, it’s just one thing that leads to the next. So it is a new work, but it doesn’t feel so wildly out of nowhere. It’s from a collection of all the ways I’ve been making for years, from honing in with my collaborators, and having more confidence to take bigger risks. I’m always site specific, so I couldn’t help but respond to the Opera House as a site - it’s kind of a dream that maybe I didn’t even know I had, to do a performance there. I’ve used a lot of sail cloth in my work, so to make a sail for the sails is exciting.
We are in this hard time where responding to site, and what’s happening in the world, is not to be taken lightly. So for us, making and collaborating with sound is important. Alyx Dennison composed the score for us - I describe the sound as if I have my hands on my hips and I’m tapping my foot. It’s wanting to be heard, and needing to be heard, coming from a collaboration with a group of people that want change. That is what the work is about. That is why I approached you as well, because you can tell by the way you make and the material you use that it’s all about trying to be better.
Yeah, I think when we are producing things it is a big responsibility. The world is already oversaturated, so we want to be responsible for what we are putting out there, it’s a bit overwhelming. That’s why I want to bring colours and joy in, it’s the beauty of things that I want to celebrate as well, you know?
I 100% agree, I take the work seriously, but I also want a lot of pleasure out of it. I can’t help but find the beauty in everything, it’s something I almost innately can’t help. Celebrating what we have, and celebrating the excitement of change is maybe a shift for the better. Maybe it is too optimistic or too romantic, but I can’t help but be like that.
Yes, I resonate with you on that feeling. If we see beauty in everyday life or in our work, we may as well share it. That’s also our mission, it’s beyond the fact that we need to be making responsibly - our mission is also to bring a little bit of joy.
I think it’s also the same for artists, producing something new isn’t always necessary. A lot of the sail cloth is plastic, so we will just reuse the cloth that already exists. I have become more aware of material than ever before. As you’ve mentioned, we both have children - so, what are we leaving behind? Is it necessary to make something new? On the other hand, there is this immense joy that this fabric gives us!
I am curious about how you work with fabric? What inspires you with this material?
I think that’s an interesting question, because for me, it has always been there. I was a really creative kid and I was choosing between fashion school or art school. I ended up choosing art school because I knew I could get away with much more. I learned very early on that in making art you could collaborate with dancers or architects and just bend the rules more. I have always loved fabric and clothing - I can’t help but compare dressing to wearing a costume or a uniform. That’s why I love your clothes, it feels like a creative uniform. You know, you could dance in it, direct in it, paint in it if you wanted to.
I have some questions around how you approach collaboration as an artist. Has your collaborative mindset evolved along the way?
I think at some point, I realised that I couldn’t technically write music and I don’t know how to make patterns. So I’ve worked with Leah Giblin over the years. I think you know straight away if the collaboration is going to work, there is this magic or language that comes together. When you’re in the studio alone it can get so isolating, which some artists would enjoy, but I don’t. I actually love working with a team and finding connections in the small details, it brings me so much joy.
Yes, I can resonate with that. I think it sounds a bit similar to the joy I take from working with people. It’s so much better to collaborate because you lose some control over what the vision will look like in the end. It’s not just about executing the vision, it’s about welcoming the surprises that come from collaboration.
Yes, it’s about that compromise. Leah pushed for us to use silk this time and I wasn’t convinced, but I just had to trust her. She really pushed this work as we had already made a similar piece and we wanted this to feel new, a richer version of anything else we had ever made. So to use new fabric, to pick our own colours and to have it dyed, gave us that control over the touch. Even though we had the sailmakers reinforce it, it feels that we have made something really special. The sweat of our hands is all over it, ingrained in the fabric and the history of the work.
So how are you feeling leading up to the show? Are you excited? Nervous? It must feel very real once the work has an audience.
I definitely get nervous! Even though I’m performing and I step into this other version of myself on stage, I’m not a dancer or an actor. I’m really there to help the cloth perform. Yesterday in rehearsal there was no crowd, but I found myself getting nervous because of the site. Where I am, and the architecture behind me, all the history that the building and land contains. I’m super aware of the history there. I get more nervous about that than performing in front of people.
It’s amazing, I’m looking forward to seeing everything together! Such a pleasure to work with you and for you to wear our clothes, thank you.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
You can find out more about Lauren Brincat and her work through her website.‘Tutti Presto fff’ was presented by Vivid Sydney LIVE at Sydney Opera House, from 25th May to 4th June, 2022.