To start to talk about genres

Perhaps in a Hundred YearsI like genre pieces. which shouldn't be surprising. I learned to read and imagine in the worlds of pulp fantasy and slightly better science fiction. Even now, when I read fiction, it is usually some clear genre - sci-fi and fantasy have been joined by mysteries (the harder boiled the better), spy novels and historical fiction.

I'm not an expert in any of these genres, which is maybe why I don't identify them as influences as much as maybe I should. But writing about up-coming work recently, there were two science fiction projects (Upper Toronto and Perhaps in a Hundred Years [opening at Summerworks on Thursday]), one ghost story and I had just received an email about a hard-boiled radio show I had done 10 years ago. Dedicated to the Revolutions is a science vaudville - not a common genre, but I think still a genre.

Genre obviously gives a frame and some distance that allows for different stories to be told, for a different kind of thought experiment or "what-if." This observation is nothing new, but in theatre it's less talked about.

It's certainly not part of the critical discourse or "legitimate art"* theatre.

Why is that?

*I'm not even show what I mean by that, but I still think it holds true.

More coming on this subject. I would love to hear thoughts or get links.

No one is going to do it for us.

PME Art - Hospitality 2Artist and writer Chris Dupuis has taken some well aimed swings at a side bar in this weeks NOW.

The "who's the next... Peggy Baker, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan" form is generally a trite move to force a connection. At best it might be an understanding of working in tradition and a way to contextualize new work — but really I'm just being nice to give that much credit. It's simplistic and un-useful and often damaging to everyone involved.

Chris is right on in identifying the gender trouble and disciplinary ideology in Sumi's piece and I'm glad he wrote a response.

But there's a larger thing in the wider complaining about the coverage in the mainstream press (and make no mistake — NOW is mainstream) that happens in Toronto: The mainstream press is in trouble — it's thrashing and dying and grabbing for every ad dollar out there.

And as scarcity presses down on the print media and local TV and radio — contemporary art practices are just not part of the money numbers game. Theatre has it great compared to dance and dancers can look to poets if they want to feel good about their coverage.

While I think calling out damaging articles is important — it's the other promise of Chris' Time and Space that feels more urgent, more useful.

We are not mainstream — so we need a not-mainstream "media" — and we need it to be informed and thoughtful and engaged in the practice and removed from advertising prerogative and well written (more smarts / less jargon.) And the only way we're going to get that change is by being it — sorry to get all Gandhi, but he was right.

The French New Wave invented themselves in part with Cahiers du cinéma — writing well about each other and insisting that there was something important going on* (and of course it is important that something important is going on. The cycle of bad work and bad writing about it needs to be broken at all points.)

No one is going to do it for us. And there is no longer much of a limit to distribution or word count. Only to our willingness to step up and do it. Which I acknowledge can be a big and scary limit.

This is the beginning of me trying to do it here — I'm not going to write reviews — but I am going to participate through writing that is distanced from my roles with larger entities (Small Wooden Shoe, Dancemakers...)

[* The New Wave example came through Jacob Wren and his blog - but I can't prove it because I can't find the post - but in the process I remembered how much the blog is really worth going back over]

11 Conversation Starters

A few years ago I wrote a manifesto for Small Wooden Shoe in the form of 11 conversation starters.This blog seems like a place to have those conversations. The grand idea, then, is that I'll write a post about each one - unpacking, furthering or denying and re-imagining them. Please join in.

A Manifesto: 11 conversation starters for Small Wooden Shoe Jacob Zimmer. 04/07/06 (with thanks to Ame Henderson, Chad Dembski, Jacob Wren) Published in C: International Contemporary Art (Spring 2006, ed. Rosemary Heather)

1. There is no such thing as a clean start. Start from the mess and move towards something. Something that might be called truth.

2.  Nothing is ruled out. Nothing ruled in. Not everything goes.

3. Waking up is evidence of hope. Artwork even more so.

4. It’s worth thinking about.

5. There is good and bad fun. Good fun is essential.

6. When doing something strange, it is best to be relaxed.

7. Lying is another word for imagination. The pursuit of the truth does not exclude lying, it requires it.

8. Not being able to do something is no excuse not to. How else will we learn?

9. The separation of emotion, body and intellect is destroying the world.

10. Have something to say. It’s possible to change your mind later.

11. What ever we do here tonight, we do it on purpose.