Interview Bahar Temiz

In ICE, choreographer Bahar Temiz creates fleeting poetic images. She tugs cords; they weave, intertwine, ripple and knot together. ICE reveals the many warnings the earth is giving us about its and our future – as it becomes a little warmer each day. In this interview she talks about her inspiration to create this dance performance. 

Bahar, you are a Turkish choreographer based in Paris. How would you describe your place as an artist in this world?

“I moved from Istanbul to Paris, which helped me to financially stabilize thanks to the unemployment system for artists. France and Belgium are still the best countries to live for freelancer artists. I hope they remain this way. I feel supported by the professional system and my colleagues who are generous to share and give constructive feedback that allows me to grow. In Turkey, I am mostly working in gallery spaces and sometimes in show business – which are both precarious fields. I also don’t find the discoursive approach that I need to get inspired. Paris is the place to be for an artist if you have the energy to keep up!”


How does the physical body relate to text in your work?

“Dealing with text has always been present in my work as performer and choreographer. I like to hear the voice of the performers – not only to assume but to actually know that they have a voice. Even if we deal with abstract movement, we deal with bodies and body is political; it has a story. Even without claiming a political stand, being in a body is a political act. Abstraction and movement become political through the frame, the context and the people they relate to. There are many exciting questions that our bodies can deal with in performing arts. What I am very interested is the question of survival. I would like to imagine situations where the body and the mind should become one and deal with the problem: how could we survive together?”

‘The sudden appearances of the patterns in the world brings a sense of coherence and above all connection. In the old way of saying it, tales were spun; they were threads that tie things together and from them the fabric of the world was woven. In the strongest stories we see ourselves, connected to each other, woven into the pattern, see that we are ourselves stories, telling and being told.’

(The Faraway Nearby)

What is the starting point of bringing text and movement together in your creation process?

“Mostly I start by writing a concept. Even if the work begins in the studio, I always try to conceptualize things. So the text is present at the very beginning. In the creation process I try to look for something physical and theoretical, similarly to the “problematique” that would make you write your dissertation. Even though at first the two might not seem to relate, my choreographies always have a kind of reflection of the research that I am doing. It’s always there without really being there. So for ICE I had the desire to work again with ropes. The many qualities and functions of a rope interest me; it can attach things, stretch out, be folded, knotted and unfolded. I see them as metaphors that inspire me to create dance motions and movements. At some point I read Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby in which she wrote an essay about threads and stories. She talks for instance about the labyrinth that can divide a place in such a way that you are able to make a long journey in a very small space. And I like very much the idea of transforming the rehearsal and the theatre space. This is how I landed on making ephemeral sculptures with ropes and my body.”

Antarctica takes a central place in the narrative of ICE. How were you inspired by this topic?

“Next to my interest in ropes I was very much intrigued by pure spaces and a white on white aesthetic. Through my reading of Rebecca Solnit, I found a part that dealt with ice and I immediately knew that this would be the title of the performance. From that point I started doing historical research on ice and subsequently on Antarctica and Everest. I read many stories about people exploring the continent. I like this existential necessity of searching, of putting yourself in vulnerable situations but at the same time opening up and really discovering the world and yourself. It reminded me of the myth of Sisyphus; insisting on something even though you don’t get concrete results or any result at all. Because from a difficult situation a person can create a certain kind of motivation to be able to go beyond that difficulty. I have a similar desire to put myself in impossible situations. It’s a way to evolve, grow and learn – if not die.”

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