Marcos, could you first give us a description of who you are and what you do? Why have you chosen performance as a medium for your work?
Marcos Lutyens: I work with different kinds of media including performance art, though the common thread is an interest in consciousness and blurring the boundaries of the self.I especially like the medium of performance as it bypasses the rather cumbersome reality of using objects (such as sculptures or paintings) to act as intermediaries between artist and visitor.
Performance art, as I practice it, is immensely versatile and can adapt to infinite scenarios and locations, as well as engage directly with the emotions and imagination of the person coming into contact with it.
As an artist I also like to consider myself like a conduit: a clear, empty tube that connects different levels and layers of reality with as little interference of the ego as possible.
What led you to do this current performance with Raimundas and specifically as a part of the Tales of Our Time exhibition? How was this project conceived?
Marcos Lutyens: Raimundas and I have been working on this Hypnotic Show project since 2008, when we met in San Francisco. Since then the Hypnotic Show evolved its manifestations across many different countries and venues across the world, including at the Centre Pompidou, Documenta in Germany, Artissima in Italy. We are doing a version, for instance, next week at the Fundación Cisneros in Venezuela. For the Tales of Our Time, the curator Xiaoyu Weng invited us in to help close (while perhaps opening up?) the exhibition at the end of its 3 month duration at the Guggenheim.
The Hypnotic Show is often based on text written by guest artists or writers, and in this case, we grounded our flight of the imagination in seven mixed-reality catalogue texts penned by Chinese and Taiwanese writers.
I noticed that Rai is a curator, not an artist, which is kind of a formal choice for performance art. Do you often work with a curator or. if not. what was your experience working with one this time?
Marcos Lutyens: The Hypnotic Show is always a collaboration between myself and Raimundas. We don’t conceive of ourselves as having fixed roles, such as artist and curator, but rather concepteur and hypnoteur, or friends that operate in a vapor-like boundary that lies beyond standard job-descriptions.
As an artist who presents work at major institutions, what kinds of people (other artists, gallery directors, curators, production agencies etc) do you usually find on your team?
Marcos Lutyens: I am constantly excited to collaborate with all kinds of people inside and outside of the realm of art. Even a passing conversation can lead to a string of operations that could lead to a large-scale and evolving project. I also think that collaborating with people that have knowledge beyond your own sphere opens up the creative possibilities exponentially. I have been especially stimulated by working with neuroscientists who generally have a keen understanding of consciousness, but who, at the same time, encourage the possibility of a more poetic investigation of the mind.
Speaking of collaborations, what is your relationship with Velvet like? Has it been helpful for you as an artist to work with a production company? Could this perhaps be the way of the future for performance art support?
Marcos Lutyens: It has been very stimulating working with Velvet, in part because of the allure of Australia, but also teaming up with the creative movers and shakers there. A lot of my work is multi-disciplinary and quite complex, so working with a production company allows one to embark on projects that are technically and conceptually more involved and ambitious. Likewise, the ability to cross-pollinate and work to support other creators/directors at Velvet is gratifying. I have especially been having a very creative rapport with Jeff Darling and Jason Rogers for quite a few years now.
In terms of performance art funding, if one works in a collective it is much easier to pull together resources, which help to attenuate out-of-pocket costs. A good example was a VR project we have been working on, in which various team members chipped in in terms of advice, physical help, skill sets, etc.
That actually sounds really nice, being able to attack big projects because you know there are people on your side. But let’s bring it back to Hypnotic Show. How did you first start working in sensory experience?
Marcos Lutyens: I came to sensory experience through an interest and immersion in shamanism in Mexico. Perhaps, it would be better expressed initially as extra- or ultra-sensory experience, in other words, encounters that go beyond the every-day. Later, I found hypnosis to be a medium that allowed for a relatively controlled access to these same states of mind, in which there is heightened awareness and hence a focus on the inner senses. Still later, I began working with synesthetics to explore how heightened sensory experience is native in this group of people, as well as in children under the age of five.