Recent PS122 intern Bella Riza wrote this wonderful look back at her days shooting & editing videos for our COIL festival. Big thanks to Bella and all of our interns without whom we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. If you’d like to intern for PS122 you can find info on our Volunteer page.
Sometimes it feels like walking into a home when you step foot into PS122’s offices in Greenpoint. I don’t really know how to explain that, it might be something to do with the fact that there is always something going on or being worked out like a functioning house. It could be the family of warm people that all work in the same space too. That’s how it felt on my first day of my internship with Video/Creative Technology there. Usually the way you see and sense a place that you come to know well changes over time. I feel like my first impressions of PS122 remain essentially similar to that first day.
My first experience of performance with PS122 was sitting in the basement of The Chocolate Factory for Big Dance Theatre’s Ich, Kürbisgeist. Already disorientated by the title, which to me bore no reference to anything I knew –- I had no idea what to expect. I sat on a swiveling seat in the middle of the dark cave like space — surrounded by pumpkins and odd little levels and edges with the smell of pumpkin innards hanging in the air — the light was dim with a white tone allowing you to notice hidden dark corners, the small set slowly revealing itself and its possibilities. Spoken in a hybrid language resembling Old English and Danish, the performance continued to grow into something entirely unexpected taking you into a new world but one that was at once familiar. The performers sometimes running laps around where the audience sat spinning your attention around the room. There was a liberty to the performance and being in the audience was welcomed as a kind of freedom of feeling. The atmosphere existing within the space was completely temporal, how would it be translated into a film context? How could you experience the liberty and sensations of live performance through film? It was exciting and troubling to begin to imagine how something so physical and spontaneous could work as film; to consider how the limitations it presents also brings about new possibility for expression.
Having been filmed the performances already tell a new kind of story with the specificity of what has been chosen to focus on, and then in turn as they become one minute teasers something else happens. Applying technology to live performance brought about new worlds within the pieces, and pragmatically makes them accessible and implicates their immortality. Working in this way created this sense of collaboration and evolution that is at the heart of PS122. Always concerned with new ways of looking at the world and telling new stories PS122 is a fluid creative centre in New York City. Simultaneously an alternate home for those that work and watch theatre there whilst also acting like a large mirror for its audiences’ to consider the wideness of our world and experience, it’s like escaping and coming home all at once. On my last day I was aware of the special place I was leaving behind but with the promise of its inspiration and the knowledge of the work it would continue to create.