Article Basque 2019



As a Maker and teacher, Katie Duck has been developing an intense and recognised work around Music Theatre and artistic creation in general for decades. In the start of July she returned for the second time to the capital of Alavesa at the invitation of danZálava to share her knowledge with those who attended in her the Music Theatre workshop, a meeting that closes today and will end with a Performance of CAGE at 20.00 hours in Artium. CAGE will be presented in collaboration with Zuriñe Benavente and Ignacio Monterrubio. Entry is free up to completing the capacity.

I have wonderful memories of Vitoria, especially the ambience that is generated in the workshop. It is a very good group. They are actors and dancers of different ages, from 61 to 26 years. For the type of work that I do, this variety is better.

I have been in Bilbao and in San Sebastian on several occasions. I know the Basque Country. To come for a second residency to Vitoria and to create CAGE with Basque artists Zuriñe Benavente and Ignacio Monterrubio has given me a more in depth study of the Basque Country and what this part of the world has been through and represents.

Cage is a piece that is different in every place it is played because she collaborates with local artists asking them to integrate their writing, music and movement ideas. Cage started as a solo that transformed as she began to invite artists from each country where she is working.

Katie was born near Los Angeles and has lived in Europe since she was 24 years old. She in lived in Ámsterdam in the 70’s for a period of time then moved to Italy and then England. She returned to live in Amsterdam in 1991. She does not consider herself to be an ex-patriot because she has never been patriotic. “I am a nomad”.

My interest in cultures runs deep because of my nomadic lifestyle approach. At one point in the process of creating CAGE I realised that anywhere I brought the piece was having to be translated not only by way of language but by way of the political subjects I was interested in portraying. I decided to invite and collaborate with musicians, dancers or actors using CAGE as a score in a short rehearsal process towards performance.

I created a film that works as a background and light design and four texts (The institutionalisation of everything, love and th black of it, the anatomy of the vagina and death). I invent a different sound track for each CAGE asking my collaborators to send me sound or music pieces that will integrate their culture and spark public awareness. I ask them to use these four text titles to find their own writing relative to where they are from and how they feel about where they are from.

Basque Cage will be my 21st performance of the piece. I have played CAGE in Hong Kong, Argentina, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Spain, The USA, Mexico, Canada, England and now Basque. In some cases I have been asked to return to these countries to do CAGE again which is is exhilarating.

I have also tried to maintain a low budget production cost and a simple process for rehearsal in order to create a model for how to create work for live publics in a millennia perspective of the arts. Publics today are trained to view live art as a product. I would like to clarify for publics that it is their tax payers money that provides the possibility for artists to create work and that therefore their relationship to live art needs their voice, their attention and their access. Not only because they pay for it basically, but also I do believe art is essential in how all cultures evolve. High production costs and high priced tickets needs to be re evaluated otherwise we are creating a class war for who can afford art and/or who is eligible to engage with live art.

The current economic model for subsidising art has created a passive aggressive attitude with publics some of whom choose to not come to the theatre, some whom do but then do not express what they feel about the work and those who simply accept what ever is offered to them in a consumerist manner even if they do not understand the work or cannot relate to the work. Public should feel that they have a clear relationship to the work they are seeing and that they have a right to say boo or walk out if they choose to.

Public funding is being centred on only a few established artists, most of whom began their work (like myself) in the 20th century). Artists are left with the dilemma of competing to be seen or valued and more important, to be able to make a living with their work. By placing all the funding on a small group of artists creates an imperial structure and creates a static view of what live art can be in these times we live in today in all diversity of cultures.

In this scenario, we have a hierarchic relationship between artist and public with the artist above and the public below. That has to change. It is not a fault of the public or the artists, it is the fault of the system of art.

I asked Katie what would she give as advice to young artists? Her first reaction was to mention the art university systems (laughs) but that she decides to consider in a critical conversation on another occasion.

My first advice is that you find a community with other artists. Find alternative forms and systems for financial support, systems that are transparent and independent. Collective economy in communities can work.

I would advice that you never fix your price or fix your potential to do work. That you create work that does not need huge production costs. That you get interested in articulating your work as a teacher so you can offer workshops. That you consider a flexible, moving production so you can adapt to different places.

That you ask the question “what is your relationship to public” before you begin to design your work. If you wait for the funding bodies to decide your fate as a professional artist it is very possible that you will not be able to make living and show work to publics. If you remain at home waiting for that application to come through well…good luck. I am under the impression as an artists who has been in it 40 years there is allot of commotion in that world.

Tour. It is not a simple life but it gives you a great deal of options for work than just your base. Be careful Even if you do receive public money. How much do you have to compromise what it is you actually wish to do in your work with funding bodies looking over your shoulder?