This is the centre for avant-garde art in Yangon, a diplomatically immune square of turf where we don’t have to seek silly government permissions for our shebangs. Consequently, it’s where we’ve decided to hear and hold our presentations – mornings in the Conference Room:
KS: Usually there are three layers of public.
We are the first public. We are also experiencing each other’s work.
The second public is Alter U, attached to us full-time. We are hoping in the next five years they will become practitioners, maybe transform the scene.
Then there is the larger public, that comes in for the bigger screenings, things like that.
Our program of engagement with these guys is called Alter U – partly because it’s an Alternative University that looks at artmaking from a daily life perspective, partly because it is truly expected to Alter You.
We won’t be doing media training with them: that’s for other, more practical foundations. But we will be trying to introduce a sense of the complexity of the worlds we come from; the diversity of our practices. None of the “this is what contemporary art is” business either – we have to admit that we aren’t representative of the big wide world out there, and they have to figure things out for themselves.
KS: The Flying Circus is based on communication. How do we communicate with different kinds of audiences? We’re not staging a festival so much as figuring out how we share our work with audiences in different contexts. To me, today’s exercise of talking and preparing is less about whether we do well, but how effective we can be in sharing what we do, how it’s coming across.
Some of you have written emails about how to present, what to present. To me, it’s about communicating in a fairly closed city. When we’re talking about conceptual performance we have to explain what conceptual performance is.
Kaffe: When I was invited to come back [to FCP] I felt I very much wanted to do something with people here. The Gitameit students are all instrument based, so they’re playing saxophones, guitars, voices, quite a big choir. They’re further out in northeast part of the city, and their ages run from 17 to their early 20s.
At the first workshop, I introduced to them the idea of how music is not necessarily about following a series of notes over time, following pieces already made, but it can be about making shapes, listening through music and through sound. I showed them some of my work and then suggested and introduced to them the idea of making journeys as a score to make a piece.
At the second workshop, I wanted to introduce them to listening. We did listening exercises: listening to the room, acknowledging what they heard: the importance of listening to the sound, not the object that created the sound.
We made drawings of the sound, and created works based on the sound, and fed these back to each other.
KS: Gitameit is very much a musical school to learn skills. The students enroll so they can learn to be piano teachers for middle-class families, or write film scores. But it’s the only independent music school here. It shows a complication of capital and art which I think is very strong in how the Flying Circus exists.
It is because of capital that we can afford to come here. To bring all of us here takes about $200,000, together with all the local costs. But we are totally unproductive in the globalisation sense, because we produce nothing. We are very much looking at the potential in all of us as we go into our other worlds. We have to look at how we exist the neoliberal capitalist world.
Also matters of trust: how some of the Myanmar people who’ll be speaking to us can’t tell us everything they want to say, because of political and legal restrictions.
KS: We’ve selected you as artists not so much working for NGOs, but artists who are building our own worlds. How do we build worlds in our own spaces? What is our relationship with the communities we work with? How do we communicate in their shared world?