Interview: Meredith Glisson
Luca Curci talks with Meredith Glisson during BARCELONA CONTEMPORARY 2021, 3rd Edition, at Valid World Hall Gallery.
Meredith Glisson creates performances that are situational both for the performer and the audience member. Her artistic work departs from contemporary dance and incorporates live projection, video and theatrics to offer various perspectives in creating performative landscapes. Oftenly, she initiates her practice through the emotional body as the nervous system recalls memories of the past. Through this effort of remembering, she creates mechanisms to overcome situations and open up perceptions. Her practice lives in the spaces of the in-between and acts as a mediator towards self reflection. Meredith is a choreographer, dramaturg, movement coach and performer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is co-Director of MOtiVE Brooklyn, a community-oriented space in Dumbo providing tailored artist services for movement-based practices through international exchange, residencies, mentorship, and workshops.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Meredith Glisson – This is such a big question to unpack! For now, art for me is a place to turn to whether I want to work something out in my body, feel held in a moment of contemplation or look for a way out. It’s my mechanism to make sense of things either personally-related or socially around me. When I’m in close proximity to my practice, I feel the most connected, it’s an immediate knowing that grounds me, not only with my body and the way I feel but how I relate to other people and places.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
MG – I’m working in dance and theater with an emphasis in embodied practices that investigates behaviors and positioning of the body in space. The experience that has most influenced me was making my first work about my brother’s passing. It was therapeutic for me to take the time to remember who he was as a person– how he talked, how he played with our dog, what music he liked to listen to. My mother had given out these cards at his memorial service for friends to write down a memory of him, so I took these cards and started making short movement phrases. I wanted to study his physicality and almost become him, in hopes to keep him close to me as I felt like I was forgetting him. So now, I have this dance, this tangible thing to do when I’m missing him.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
MG – I take inspiration from situations I’ve been in or things I’ve observed whether on the street, on tv or from other artwork. I have a photographic memory and I’m interested in interpreting situations whether it’s remembering how someone spoke to me, where an object was placed on a table or the facial expression I was confronted with when receiving bad news. In my work, I re-create situations in order to take time to understand what really happened and then offer different perspectives for what could’ve been. It’s a way for me to move forward empathically. This way of working collides with my interest in watching films and tv series especially documentaries where I often reference scenes to achieve specific performativity within my work. A lot of times I get my best ideas when my mind is at ease, like taking a shower, right before I fall asleep or watching a performance in a dark theater.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
MG – It’s hard. Plain and simple. Especially if you’re in the field of dance. It’s just overlooked and undervalued. The only good thing that came from the pandemic is, I was able to secure a studio space with my colleague, Lilach Orenstein. In response to supporting artists especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to introduce supportive structures and programming that are uniquely designed to value the artist and their process. It’s important to us to build relationships with artists so together we can create an accessible network of professionals who collectively imagine and initiate flexible structures for artistic assistance. MOtiVE Brooklyn will officially open in October 2021. Please donate to our kickstarter campaign, come to our Gala on October 22-23, 2021 and/or visit us on our website: www.motivebrooklyn.com We are always looking for artists and potential partners. We would love to meet you!
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
MG – Yes of course! My practice has evolved over the years by thinking more about the performative landscape through live projections, video and voiceover. Here are a few questions that I’m considering in my practice: How does the audience connect to my work? Do they need to sit closer? How can they feel what I’m feeling? Are they part of the environment? What are the different points of entry into my work? How can I create an experience that translates? How can I play with the audience on what’s real and what’s not?
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
MG – My work presented at Barcelona Contemporary 2021 is best connected to the festival’s theme of Mixing Identities. Little Sister focuses on the recounts of a girl’s childhood and the fragility of memory within the complexities of a family as she embodies and speaks to and as each member. She shifts from imitating her father to mother to brother to herself as she psychoanalyzes events and fragments the narrative. As the little sister retells stories from her own perspective, a witness simultaneously records these events from different viewpoints using a moving camera, allowing the audience to experience the work both through a live intimate setting and as a documentary film.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
MG – I was happy to be recognized and selected by ITSLIQUID to be presented in their 3rd edition of Barcelona Contemporary 2021. With its diversity in art mediums and artists from around the world, I hope to connect with new people who will be influential to my life and practice. My goal is to engage with organizations like this arts fair, who can offer me opportunities to share my work in-person and virtually. By participating in this platform, I hope that people who engage with my artwork presented at BC 2021, feel a connection to their childhood past and acknowledge how these important events shape who we become.