Busing Audiences to the Bronx

09/02/2009 4:00 AM |

I’m assuming then, that you feel that in the world today we are deeply alienated from our own selves and senses.

Well, I don’t know if I want to say that. But I feel the possibility exists for one to become so. Just because of technology. I mean technology seems dedicated to keeping us alienated from the next person. It’s kind of funny because you have all this technology that exists, that in fact seems to be allowing us to communicate with other people, but it means that the people who are in front of us don’t have to be seen, don’t have to be heard, don’t have to be spoken to. That’s kind of interesting, that we can really close down our circle with technology and don’t really look and listen and see what’s in front of us.

It seems like that also represents some shift in the way that people are taking in art, if nothing else because of the desire for it to happen more quickly, or in a mediated way. People run into the gallery and take a picture of the painting they came to see. Or, the classic thing, which has been happening for a long time, they come in and read the text next to the artwork rather than looking at the painting itself. It seems like the audio experience of Provenance doesn’t allow for that in a sense. Do you see that at all, in terms of the way people are consuming, to be crass about it, artwork?

What I like about the tour is that it takes the time that it takes. It’s a very open dynamic, in that you can look at whatever you want to look at out the windows of the bus. You’re not being forced into a box and controlled in that way. But we’re moving very fast and you’re not holding onto anything. To me it’s kind of like an old-fashioned way of being in the world and maybe as a writer, too, it’s something that I have never given up. I am constantly fascinated with the process of looking and listening and reading, literally reading the landscape.

In a sense, you’re putting the audience in the position that you feel you’re in, to some extent?

There’s so much to look at and there’s so much we can’t control. We can’t control the traffic, we can’t control what happens. There are times when the bus is stalled. One day, some guy, for some reason, I don’t know how it happened, his car was in the middle of the street and he didn’t have the keys. And we’re all sitting there thinking, how are you sitting in the driver’s seat without the keys in the middle of the road? How did that happen? But until he could figure it out, that’s where we were—no going anywhere. And we kind of sorted it out. And those things you can’t control. You can’t control what’s going to go down. That part of it—you don’t expect that every word is going to be heard, other things are going one—that’s seems like a nice dynamic, being in the world. This is how we are in the world.

Is this the first time that you’ve worked in a form like this?

I’ve made small films that were collaborations with my husband, who is a film maker and a photographer, but I’ve never worked like this in the landscape and have certainly never done theater before.