CW: How do you think about the term “amateur”?
JB: The amateur is the one “qui aime” (who likes), etymologically speaking. The professional is the one who works for money and maybe who doesn’t like anymore. The amateur hasn’t any knowledge, and usually he or she does what I ask perfectly well. Professionals, unfortunately, have naturalized many ways of being on stage; being contemporary dancers, they are not aware of this anymore. I think it is disgusting because they are reproducing the same thing again and again without being conscious of it. For me, this is a nightmare—that’s how I discovered that contemporary dance was dead!
CW: Could I possibly press you to reflect on the Judson difference at all? Is Paxton’s importing of ordinary walking a similar strategy to your found club dance, tennis playing, or disabled theater? Or does he believe in transparency or purity of neutral movement, which is the opposite of these ready-made styles/forms?
JB: Well, I think the ’60s /’70s and the ’90s/’00s were different times, but the operation is the same. There is maybe a pre-cultural industry era, and la société du spectacle. My esthetic is a Warholian version of Paxton’s esthetic. But when I saw Satisfying Lover, I remember I thought that I should have done this piece! It was so perfect. But in fact, I did a piece incorporating pop songs, [such as] “Let’s Dance” or “I Like to Move It.”
CW: Regarding Judson versus now, I like your Paxton-after-Warhol characterization (even if Warhol had thought of all this at the same time: we just took five decades to understand him!). I am very interested in how art, historically speaking, often goes through a process of reiteration to be understood: how the ideas of the ’60s are immediately rejected by the next generation (late ’70s/’80s) but are reiterated/revitalized from the ’90s in ways that deepen our appreciation of the original work, and add to it. I think the seeds of Warholian knowingness were already there for Rainer/Paxton (consciousness of the image, of the fakeness of ordinariness as a style), but somehow that knowingness has been submerged in our historical understanding of them, so that we believe that they only believed in authenticity in a naive way. However, your work seems—to me—to draw out and exaggerate/go further with that implicit seed of ready-made-ness and make it of our time completely.
Go to Part I >