Daley Rangi stopped by to wax poetic with us on all things I Don’t Owe You. This is the resultant dialogue.
Firstly, tell us about ‘I Don’t Owe You’ – what’s the project all about and what inspired it?
To preface, I struggle to talk about my work, so please take the following with a grain of salt, or your preferred mineral compound. This work feels like just one of many access points to a vital, ongoing conversation about bodily integrity. Everything I explore has been explored before, by many ancestors and kin. But while it still needs to be said, I’ll say it. Nothing inspires this bodywork better than being harassed, threatened, and attacked for having facial hair whilst dressing or appearing otherwise ‘feminine’, breeding a discomforting feeling of owing, of debt, of extraction.
Perhaps the work may act as a gentle reminder that gender is still an endless game of survival for many, an intangible paradox of joy and rage, violence and freedom. Perhaps the work is about the semiotics and rituals of gender, and perhaps the signed systems and labour that comes with it. Perhaps it turns the lens of ‘gender’ away from the colonial, in search of something more beautiful, more human, more ancient. Perhaps, despite the violent overtones, it’s a work about care, connection, and community. I’m not interested in hyper-individualism. That’s not the answer.
The piece is described as being ‘endurance-based’ – what does this mean for an audience, and how does it evoke the overarching themes?
To be utterly transparent, I’m still working that out. I feel a sense of endurance just existing, many days of the week, as do many of my kin, as do many humans, probably. I think endurance works, which most often involve the body, are, or should be, less about the ‘shock’ factor of what the artist might be doing, and more about the chance to slow down and examine ourselves and each other, maybe change or adapt our collective behaviours towards the kind. We each have a body we can share, or show, or use to shock, I’m more interested in what lies beneath the skin.
Humans are instinctively born to engage with other beings, I suppose I’m just providing a framework for some deeper engagement. An ideas trampoline, impossible futures made possible by action. Sure, yeah, I wanna push people off a fence. Choose a side, either side, but just feel something, do something, anything. It’s less about making audiences uncomfortable, but rather about using my own body and stories and battles as the archaeological site to dig up some truths that relate to everybody.
As this is a long form piece, what will you be presenting at Adhocracy, and how will it differ from the final form?
It definitely won’t be anything extended at Adhocracy, rather a testing ground, an experiment. After reading this, grab a writing tool, and throw down a few sentences starting with ‘I don’t owe you…’. The ‘you’ can be whoever you want, maybe even yourself. It’s quite freeing to exercise the release from expectation and embrace boundaries. For example, “I don’t owe you, the audience, a carefully-crafted, well-executed showing of a curious new live performance work at Adhocracy”, but I’ll do my damned best to share one with you. Side by side my projects wax and wane in what they’re responding to, and what forms they crave, but there’s a soft thread you can pull on. Resistance, and resilience, and how complex these two things are and continue to be.
Where does ‘I Don’t Owe You’ go after its appearance at Adhocracy?
It would be pleasant if I knew. Maybe one day we’ll all sit together and watch the sun rise on a better world, and maybe a word or two I once wrote (or a 24-hour endurance bodywork I once performed) is warm dust on that morning breeze.
Anything else audiences should know?
Don’t be afraid. Come say hi. Pluck a beard hair or two. Share the labour.