SENTIENCE - A COLLABORATION
SENTIENCEAlba Amicorum x Juliet Burnett x Joel Benguigui
dance of the square - the shape of space - moving stillness - breathing - languid forms - a muted lexicon - their creator - baring souls - unscripted - together - the sentient
What drew you to this collaboration with Alba Amicorum and what was the inspiration/impetus?Joel is a friend who invited me to be part of this collaboration. He told me about Alba Amicorum and that he thought I would be a good fit for the project because my values so align with those of the company; he was right!
Please tell us a little about your work and background?I am an Indonesian-Australian dancer born in Sydney, Australia. I danced with The Australian Ballet for nearly 13 years before becoming a freelancer, then made the move to Antwerp, Belgium in 2016 to join Ballet Vlaanderen. Aside from my consuming profession, I am also a writer, dance teacher and activist. I have also made a dance film for the Dark MOFO festival in Australia and conduct community outreach dance programs in Indonesia.
Do you feel artistic collaboration is important and, if so, why? Do you feel working with different artists from different artforms is important?Absolutely. Art is the lifeblood of society. ‘Art is the voice for the people’, my uncle WS Rendra (Indonesia’s foremost poet, playwright and activist) famously said. Sometimes I think art, especially higher art forms like ballet and classical music, are too protected, too sacrosanct. It is important to cross-collaborate to keep those traditional art forms vibrant, alive and relevant to a contemporary society. Learning more about other art forms enriches me as an artist. My husband and I (composer, musician and electronic music artist Nicholas Robert Thayer) strongly believe in this.
How did you find the collaboration and exchange with Joel and Darshana?It was a very light, magical and natural exchange. It is always a joy when one doesn’t have to think too much and be able to be carried away in a work flow. This was very true for this collaboration.
Tell us a little bit about the process – what was important to you (technically, emotionally and artistically)?In all my work I demand a deep understanding of the intention. Knowing this very well allows me to be totally honest and generous in my offering. In this process there were three creatives - Joel, Darshana and myself - whose humble purpose was to create images that captured the beauty, expression and detail of the scarves, through the movement of my body. I took inspiration for my movement from the artwork on each scarf, and in the gorgeous light of the space, I simply danced in response. Like a dialogue with each individual piece, if you will.
How do you feel on reflection – did you learn anything, and how do you feel about the final photos?A picture does tell a thousand words … and then some. I think the beauty of the final photos shows the way each of us connected and grew together, even if it was for but a few hours.
What drew you to this collaboration with Alba Amicorum and what was the inspiration/impetus?When I met Alba Amicorum’s founder, we didn’t talk about collaboration. We talked about life, about my encounter with my family in Indonesia. Then we started sharing on a more creative level, and I fell in love with Darshana’s creative platform. We waited for the right moment to collaborate and found inspiration in dance, Pina Bausch and Kazuo Ōno, and the importance of negative space brought by Juliet..
Please tell us a little about your work and background?I am totally self-taught, and as far as I remember, I’ve had cameras in my hands for ever. I recently found the first camera I owned. A Kodak 110 film camera redesigned and rebranded by Fisher-Price. I was about 6. I don’t know what happened to all these images, but as for now, I see portrait photography as a dialogue.
Do you feel artistic collaboration is important and, if so, why? Do you feel working with different artists from different artforms is important?A non-formal conversation between 2 individuals—or more—who feel comfortable enough to open up on the one hand, and listen and capture on the other hand. A deep sense of trust is necessary, especially when I’m embedded in a documentary. And I believe this is where I find the essence of photography, in recording stories.
How did you find the collaboration and exchange with Joel and Darshana?I felt like our collaboration, with Juliet and Darshana made sense. There is no way describe how it felt for me, to work on a series of images involving Juliet—first solo dancer and the Royal Ballet of Flanders—and the extraordinary vision of artist and art director Darshana Rouget. I had this very strong desire of combining art, dance and photography, and I believe everything happens for a reason.
Tell us a little bit about the process – what was important to you (technically, emotionally and artistically)?The challenge for this series was to feel the essence of each artist and scarf, and capture Juliet bring them to a new creative dimension. A dialogue between artists, each one from with a story, a vision, a sensibility. The most important for me, regardless of whom I’m collaborating with, is to always try to focus on the emotional. On the personal story. The most surprising, yet expected as well was to see how Juliet could bring Darshana’s work to life. To give it this beautiful 3-dimensional aspect and extract the spirit and soul from each scarf. And the freedom we gave to each other to create this series of photographs.
How do you feel on reflection – did you learn anything, and how do you feel about the final photos?This collaboration makes me feel like exploring new territories, and streamline my photography. It woke a deep desire for making images loaded with emotions, bare, raw, yet full of beauty. And looking at the images we created, I’m very much impatient to see what’s coming next with Darshana and Juliet! I’ve had a deep love for dance for decades. As a kid, I even wanted to study ballet, but I ended up being enrolled in a football team. It lasted less than 6 month. I started working with dancers in 2017, and now with Juliet; combining dance and photography is to me a very exciting experience and challenge.