Who is De Naive, where did it all begin?
De Naive; a collaboration with dance artists Harald Beharie, Julie Moviken and Charlott Utzig. We met for the first time in 2012 during our education at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.
De Naive was formed through an idea of an open-minded collective where our goal was to just experiment with ideas, dreams and create whatever we wanted. Quickly we found a common interest in how we as individuals interact in society, groups and social situations and formed a performance group; De Naive, based on a playful atmosphere for exploration. We like to call it attentive and “serious” work with a humorous, profound and satirical approach. We want to explore and challenge social conventions and established rules through a bodily expression. A common denominator for our work is making dance available to the public; a desire to reach out to a wide range of people through fieldwork, public pop-up performances and lately the active use of social media.
Why "De Naive"?
We believe that the world (and the art field) needs more naive energy!!!!
De Naive can be interpreted as an image or expression of our millennial generation, where it can seem like there are no limits for where to reach and what to achieve. A mentality characterized by high ambitions with a naive belief in that “dreams will come true”. Despite the fact that we perceive ourselves as critical with a realistic and analytic mindset we also somehow occupy this belief.
One of our goals with De Naive has been trying to find different routes and new structures for how to work with dance and performance. How can we develop something valuable and concrete as a group, without always making a full-length performance.
As our work has evolved we have discovered an interest in commenting and questioning the formats in which we consume or experience art, and discovered how we find the structures and platforms sometimes a bit humorous and absurd. Basically we started to question our behavioral tendencies connected to theatre, art and performance. This question opened up a new sphere where we began to focus our work on performance and one-time happening work.
When using performative art in public spaces, how do you guys feel the public response and interact?
Responses and interaction vary according to the situation we expose ourselves to.
But we have noticed that people often are more available for interaction when we meet them in a public space. We experience that people are more fearless when we meet them in a familiar situation and on their own terms.
People's role as the “spectator” may here change. We experience that people have to take more responsibility as audience when it is in public space. Most times, they have not asked for this role or voluntarily sought out this type of situation, it is just appearing/happening in front of them. They are then challenged to take a stand whether to be a spectator or not, and if yes, how you are acting upon this self-given role.
The response / interactions can determine how far you can go, or how many chances you can take. The duration of the performance is then variable according to the response and to our willingness to endure the situation. Sometimes we can feel some kind of rejection from the interaction, an unwelcoming vibe from the audience that we often and act upon. We can choose to leave the space, or in other times gently insist that this moment is happening and then take a bow- playing with the expectations of what entertainment is. In certain situations, we can also feel the audience's demand for the performance to reach some kind of climax and/or satisfaction. An exciting friction can occur if we deliberately do not meet this requirement, but rather run unaffected from the scene, leaving the audience behind with the responsibility for the interaction that just happened.
Is there a feeling or an idea that is central to your work?
Humbleness and generosity! ironic tone**
Our starting point is often characterized by a satirical and profound approach, we love diving into humour with a great deal of seriousness.
After working together for a while we have created a common understanding of each other and the group which has given us the opportunity to have a less structured and planned practice. This has given us space for a spontaneous absurdity and genuine honesty. We think this intuitive commitment provides an important essence and vulnerability in our work.
Our goal is to break our own boundaries and limitations for how we can use performative art and explore how we can work in new structures and methods. Why can’t we have a gig as a music band or maybe have a 5 minute pop-up performance in the streets, and make it just as valuable for us and others as a performance in a theatre, gallery etc. ??
Working site specific has increased our attraction to the embarrassing and awkward moments- the situations that feels a bit off. How can we explore the painful, pathetic but also dear moments? Sometimes a strategy can be to put ourselves in a “bad” light, and make it look like we are not managing to “deliver” the situation we have created. A spontaneous and vulnerable presence which has generated an absurd and insecure entry to our surroundings. This uncertainty and embarrassment has gradually manifested into common methods aiming to build an awkward and unpredictable atmosphere where we don’t know what's coming or could happen.
Additionally, we are curious about the ability of the interaction to change how the spectator experiences the place and how it can generate a new awareness and consciousness in their own presence.
And in what way does this challenge you guys?
Our ambition to create an unpredictable atmosphere and maybe not respond to people's expectations can be tricky. It demands of us to be in constant dialogue in order to expand our methods and understanding how to be unpredictable in our choices. It is also challenging to find the right intention to go into situations we know will become really embarrassing or awkward. However, it is important to never become completely fearless. The insecurity of us not being 100% comfortable with different performative situations is something we think creates the essence of our expression; moments both light and painful, awkward but still with a form of absurd/abstract will and goal.
Since we use social media as a part of our artistry, we have experienced different commercial challenges by receiving requests that are mostly motivated by entertainment and a wish that we should just come and “do something”. The perception of our work as less structured and planned may cause this consequence, an assumption that it's easy for us to just show up and “do something funny and weird”. Working in more non-traditional spaces and merging with different contexts has sometimes given us a fear of being seen as an entertainment group or a insta-gag thing.
Using social media as a platform causes us to mix “likes” and art. This instant response on whether you liked it or not might be somehow frightening. A like is so relative; for some it is an uncritical point of view, for others a more selective choice. Posts that get many likes may seem seductive and can lead us in directions that are not true to our artistic visions. Moving in such platforms requires us being more aware of integrity and our goals with using social-media as a platform for our work.
Where do you guys draw your inspiration from, and what is your relationship to performative art?
We are inspired by absurd moments in life and how we as individuals interact in society, groups and social situations. We find comfort and interest in the hopeful, failing, incomplete and fearless traits in people and artists. Kristin Helgebostad and Siri & Snelle are examples of artists we have been drawn to because of their honest and funny-strange approach to working with movement, performance and dance. A non-insisting way of being that is still concrete, alive and exploring.
Our expression is in some way also linked to popular culture, where we find a lot of inspiration. We find it exciting to exploit the popular culture, and create a universe that the spectator might find familiar but then twist it around to create confusion or curiosity. In a satirical approach on fashion and glamour we enjoy playing with both trends and social culture.
It may sound banal but we are very excited about costumes, instruments, wigs etc. and find a lot of initiative by using exterior elements as a starting point. Which may sound superficial, but by adding for example a simple idea of some kitten heel-high boots making stepping noise or wearing leather gloves while clapping hands, it can provide a larger associative range which can lead to unexpected places.
If you could sum up your work in three different sentences, what would they be?
An intuitive and vulnerable state of being in the meeting with new and uncontrollable situations. We work with a type of aesthetic or form that is based on intuitive, often extreme and strange actions. Also a democratic and social project which makes dance and performance available in new and public spaces.
Together with people we want to create events that embrace a playful honesty. We want to shake up the interpretations of our surroundings and social conventions. Encourage to take bigger risks in our unfolding and put across new suggestions on how to move and interact with the environment, in an attempt to expand and explore the potential of our existence in this absurd world we call home. At least De Naive thinks the world is a bit absurd, and that was 6 sentences -well well.
Where and when can we expect to see you guys share some more dance moves and feelings?
ATM we are working on “project home video”. The structure of the project is simple - we encourage people to invite De Naive home to themselves where we together film a home video. We bring dance, costumes and good vibes and are responsive to all the impulses, ideas and inputs that might come in the private space of the person’s home. We are continuously travelling around collecting videos and experiences, the goal is to use this in a bigger context for a performance or exhibition.
Connected to our ongoing project “Contemporary Tour”, we are also frequently popping up in different public and digital spaces, as many may already have noticed. This will all culminate in a travelling site-specific performance in 2019/20, which we are really excited to make happen, stay tuned peeps!!