Interdisciplinary, multi-sensory and often site and context responsive, Alexandra Zierle (DE) & Paul Carter’s (UK) practice spans performance, photography, sound, video and installation, with a strong emphasis on exploring intuition, presence and the ‘fabric of now’, material and process-led approaches, and anchoring iconic and memorable ‘live images’.
As a couple in life since 2005 and in art from 2006, Alexandra and Paul met in the UK in Cornwall on the BA(Hons) Fine Art course at Falmouth College of Arts in 2003 and began working together with performance towards the end of their undergraduate studies with a pivotal collaboration entitled Back to Back, in which the artists intensively explored their relationship through a black suit sewn back to back. Their professional career began just after graduating when Alexandra and Paul travelled to Patagonian Argentina/Chile and Buenos Aires with the Ferdinand Zweig Memorial Scholarship, where they made a number of site specific performances, performance based videos, an interview series on sense of belonging, and sound installations.
Throughout their collaborative practice UK based Zierle & Carter have been critically examining different modes of communication and what it means to be human, addressing notions of belonging, dynamics within relationships, and the transformation of limitations. Their work sites an embodied investigation into human interactions and encounters, acting as an invitation to venture into the spaces in-between the external and internal, permanent and transient, spoken and unheard. The work fundamentally explores society’s conventions, traditions, and rituals, often flipping them on their head, reversing orders, and disrupting the norm.
With a material and process led approach, their work continuously shifts in format, content and duration, from a series of short actions to three days durational works, a week long intensive, to bodies of work and research that span a year. At times publicly visible and others remote and discreet, their site-specific work has occupied galleries, explored one to one interactive and instruction based performances in cupboards and empty cinemas. They have created performance for camera works on snow covered mountain plateaus and at the edge of cliffs, performed a series of actions and interactions in busy shopping areas, baroque gardens and city parks, made process-led works in libraries, woodlands, tunnels and World War 2 bunkers, as well as working nomadically with interventions in wilderness such as on the top of a volcano, at the base of a glacier, in a hot spring and in deserts.
Their work has been widely exhibited internationally throughout Europe, Canada, United States, South America, Australia, in Asia and Africa, including Catalyst Arts (UK), Grace Exhibition Space (US), Venice International Performance Art Week (IT), IBT13 International Festival of Performance (UK), Substation for R.I.T.E.S. (SG), Defibrillator Gallery for Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (US), 8. Biennale of Photography in Poznan (PL), Chapter Arts Centre for Experimentica (UK), IKRA (SE), Balikitan (PH), POP Gallery (AU), Garden of Reason (UK), IMAF International Performance Art Festival (RS), Up To Nature International Festival (UK), Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange (UK), La Galleria (UK), The Taubman Museum of Art (US), The A-Foundation for the Liverpool Biennale (UK), Federation Square (AU), Arnolfini for What next for the body? as part of In Between Time Festival (UK), Gallery of Contemporary Art Yaoundé (CM), Wysing Arts Centre (UK), Exist-ence International Performance Art Festival (AU), Zonadeartenacción- Foto y Video Acción (AR), Contaminate International Festival (US), and at MOMA (US) and Plymouth Arts Centre (UK) as part of Marina Abramovic’s Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art and The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow.
Twice recipients of Arts Council England grants, including support for the What has love got to do with it? visual arts residency in the Canadian Rocky Mountains at the Banff Centre. Their latest Arts Council funded project took the artists to Australia for their project Between Lands – A Sense of Belonging Enquiry, entailing a 6 week research and development residency with Melbourne based Chamber Made Opera. This research trip marked the launch of their latest enquiry into sense of belonging and specifically investigated facets and expressions of cultural identity and belonging through the lens and context of Australia. Working in the community, Zierle & Carter connected with various people from different ethnic backgrounds through discussions and informal interviews, exploring the intricacies of Australia’s native people and the long history of migrant settlers and refugees, bringing to question notions of ‘home’ and sense of belonging. From this research Zierle & Carter created Between Lands and Longings - a live art ‘Living Room Opera’ co-commissioned In Between Time and Chamber Made Opera, which premiered in the UK and Australia.
Zierle & Carter’s performance for camera piece Encounter – The Arrival won the audience award at the Exeter Contemporary Open 2011 and their work is featured in ‘Personal Structures Time – Space – Existence’ from The Global Art Affairs Foundation and Manuel Vason’s new Double Exposures publication co-published by Intellect and LADA, released later this year. Currently, they are In Between Time Associate Artists and were formerly Wysing Arts Centre Escalator Artists, members of the Newlyn Society of Artists (NSA), core members of The Western Alliance, and members of ‘Performing Curation’ a group convened by the Live Art Development Agency. In their capacity as curators and project managers, they have organized a number of performance platforms, notably as directors of Live Art Falmouth, a major international Live Art Festival in the UK in 2008. With The Western Alliance they co-organised the URGENCY/AGENCY Residency in Istanbul and Cornwall as part of the Visiting Arts Artists to Artist scheme.
In an academic capacity, Zierle & Carter are currently Visiting Lecturers for Falmouth University (UK) and previously have worked as Visiting Lecturers for the School of Art Institute of Chicago (US), Swefi in Happaranda (SE), VCA in Melbourne (AU), Ferrum University in Roanoke (US) and Dartington College of Arts (UK). They have led workshops nationally and internationally, including At the Edge of the Land, of Practice and of Knowing, a Live Art Development Agency DIY9 workshop in Cornwall, UK. As consultants, the artists also help other artists with funding applications and have been mentors for Arts Council England funded projects.
This year sites a number of new commissions, performances, and workshops including a new collaboration with Nicola Canavan for her Artsadmin Bursary, invited as guest lecturers on the ‘Resistance’ PAStudies in Kaunas in Lithuania, performing at the CREATurE Live Art Festival, a performance at CIPAF (Cyprus International Performance Art Festival) in Greece, performing for the ‘Feeling Queezy?!’ exhibition at The Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia in Tallinn, making work at ‘Art Now Live Tour’ in Beijing, China, and a performance at SAVVY Berlin, in addition to invites to Chile for the Deformes Biennale, Brazil for p.ARTE and a residency and performance in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- We will look at the more visible components of a performance practice, such as the body, time/duration, space, materials and objects, as well as explore the more hidden components, such as intention, emotions, inner senses, intuition, focus and visioning.
- We will explore mind-body centring exercises as well as some body-space perception exercises as methods of arriving into a place of enhanced embodiment and presence and as preparation for the process and material led approaches.
- We will experiment extensively with material led processes that will lead us into an intimate dialogue with any chosen material/object and will give us the ability to explore its essence, letting it guide our actions and allowing us to really listen to what qualities captivate us and want to be expressed through us. Through this journey the materials/objects can become an extension of our bodies and we are able to put aside our conventional societal and cultural filters and find new meanings/experiences.
What does it take to step into dialogue with a wall, a cooking pot, your dinner plate, a bag of rubble, a tree or an entire city?
- We will investigate the ‘fabric of things’ (materials/objects/space) through methods that will develop our sensitivity and ability to fine-tune our five senses individually.
- We will learn how to switch off the intellect, the critic, the logical mind, to welcome intuition as an ally and guide, opening a space for raw, authentic poetic actions, and finding a balance between instinctive and rational inspired thinking.
- We will share a series of highly practical creative and devising processes that can be used both in solo work as well as in collaborative work beyond the workshop.
- We will explore a wide band of methodologies and performance models/structures/forms including one to one interactions, social sculptures, interventions, within the frame work of solo and group performances.
- Together as a group, we will seek out spaces that metaphorically lay ‘in between’ – liminal spaces, no mans lands, borderlines, thresholds and edges. Here we will encounter the territory of the trickster and the fool, two archetypes that we will explore through experimental exercises and see how they can influence our work as artists.
- We will delve into exploring ‘site’, both as the location where the work resides and also as the source for the work, exploring different methods of investigation to create site specific performances.
- At times we will let ‘the wolves’ go to town to ‘scavenge’ for materials, places and spaces, encounters, questions, and conversations that will feed into our performances.
- We will introduce methods of personal reflection throughout the workshop through experimental forms of documentation and record keeping.