Posted by Thom Smyth, October 16th, 2013
This month Los Angeles born artist Loren Kronemyer performs as part of Perth’s Proximity Festival, Australia’s first one-on-one festival of performance. An artist run initiative, Proximity Festival is led by James Berlyn (Performing Lines WA Artist) and Sarah Rowbottam (Performing Lines WA Associate Producer) with Kelli Mccluskey. The festival received the coveted ‘Spirit of the Fringe Award’ (Fringe World) in it’s inaugural year and is back in 2013 with an exciting program of twelve performances, over twelve nights at the Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts from 23 October – 2 November.
Interview: Kate Hancock (KH) and Loren Kronemyer (LK)
KH. How do you explain what you do to a stranger at a dinner party?
LK. I am an opportunist, and I use any means necessary to make art that captures the juicy, complex ambivalence of being a human in the world. Please pass the wine.
KH. How does your work represent the individuals’ interaction with the environment? Why is this important to you?
LK. I enjoy destabilising the notion of the individual to promote a more dissipated view of where we end and the environment begins. A lot of my work involves conscious attempts to annihilate my own body and creative agency, giving it up to the elements or to other living systems. Drawings that erase themselves, sculptures that become fossils, things that exist on different timescales than the human, materials that I can only exert limited control over. I try to work in ways that are less representational and more demonstrative. For me, this is a way to address and critique the paradox of making art in our time, a time in which we as a species are reckoning with the damage our creative impulse has wrought so far.
KH. You moved to Perth to work with artistic laboratory SymbioticA (University of Western Australia). Can you tell us about the lab and what you did there?
LK. The SymbioticA lab is a place where the tools and techniques of biology are put to use as artistic media. As an artist, working there is a dream — you are granted access to resources, facilities, and people that encourage you to realise extremely challenging ideas that go way beyond what is possible in a traditional studio. Both of my projects with them so far have explored the notion of living drawing. My first attempts involved working with ants, trying to influence them to form drawings with their trails. These drawings lasted only for minutes before the ants regained control and returned to moving in their own ways, resulting in lines that showed the interplay of insect and human intelligence. This led to my current project with SymbioticA, in which I draw with living cells. This time, the lines I am making are injuries cut into live tissue, which I then document healing under a microscope. In both projects, the lines I make are temporary interferences in dynamic living systems that are erased by the media itself. The ant colony is a superorganism, a system with its own intelligence made up of many individuals, and the tissue is a fragment of an individual that is itself made up of many discreet living entities. I sit somewhere in the middle, meddling with both yet at the same time responsible for caring for them and keeping them alive.
KH. You’ve recently had an exhibition at Perth’s artist run studio Paper Mountain, Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep, where you participated in a series of overnight sleep studies. Can you tell us what you discovered?
LK. Working in the Centre for Sleep Science with my collaborator artist / sleep scientist Shannon Williamson was a tremendous opportunity to get a window into my own body. We discovered all sorts of fun things: sonifying pathological heart arrhythmias, mapping Rapid Eye Movements, combining the signals from multiple bodies to make mutant hybrids, attacking each other’s bodies to perform pathologies. At one point we spent 48 hours straight enclosed in the lab, sleeping and waking in shifts to alternate in the role of subject and scientist. We found ourselves recreating some classic sleep science experiments as well as inventing our own novel techniques, really pushing our bodies and the limits of the technology.
KH. What attracted you to become involved in Proximity Festival?
LK. Instructional, performative, and live works have always been a part of my practice, beginning with my training in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute. As a human being and an artist there are few things that excite me more than the opportunity to have personal interactions with another human in the context of an artwork. Our bodies are saturated with meaning, and finding ways to occupy a space where that meaning is harnessed, translated and shared is one of my favorite challenges. The first Proximity Festival took place during my early days in Perth, and seeing such a thriving interest in this type of work here was a huge reassurance for me. I remember seeing promotional materials for the first festival and thinking to myself, my work belongs in this.
KH. Your Proximity Festival work is entitled ‘Remains Management Services.’ Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about it and where the inspiration came from?
LK. To put it briefly, Remains Management Services is a nonprofit organization that offers consultation on a number of issues associated with the dispatching of anthropogenic carbon material. As lead consultant, I am excited by the opportunity to offer sensitive, sound, and thorough advice to the growing number of concerned individuals that this organisation reaches.
KH. Given Proximity Festival’s varied program (audiences can select a program of four performances of experience a marathon of twelve) you will perform your work 12 times across one evening and 96 times across the season. What’s your secret for performance endurance?
LK. Presenting a piece with this level of repetition and duration will be a new challenge for me, so I am not sure if I am qualified to reveal any endurance secrets. I have been learning as much as I can from my fellow performers about how to preserve my physical health and mental agility, and I have committed wholly to being prepared for any situation that may arise in the context of the work. There are many people who do jobs like this, but with much higher stakes, for longer durations and with less reward, so I am focused on the fact that I am nothing special and that I am privileged to have people looking out for me and my well-being. I am lucky because my piece consists mostly of operating a business, performing duties that I am familiar with from the various humble retail and administrative positions I have held over the years. Part of my inspiration for this work was to translate those functions of customer service and administrative assistance into a business that did what I thought was meaningful on my own terms. Part of my approach is that I am trying to subvert the aura of performance and treat it like any other day at the office.
KH. What is next for you after Proximity Festival?
LK. I am hurtling towards my first solo showing in Los Angeles, my home town, which takes place this December. I am consciously trying to reassert myself back in my homeland, but there are no firm plans to abandon Perth just yet – I am coming back in January for a residency at the Fremantle Arts Centre that will see me expanding the anatomical angle of some of my recent works. The pace I am working at currently is so satisfying, and I hope to keep accelerating and interjecting my work into new venues and opportunities.
Saturday 26 October 2013, 2-5pm
Loren Kronemyer is an internationally exhibiting artist from Los Angeles, California. After graduating with a BFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, she moved to Perth to work with the SymbioticA lab to obtain a Masters of Biological Arts degree at the University of Western Australia. By approaching living material with the tools of artistic research, Loren works to create poetic, yet absurd interactions between the individual and the environment, focusing on how creative impulse marks and alters the living world.