The Universe and US

Caecilia Tripp
We Are Nothing But Stardust, 2015
filmstill
Rattapallax Film and Centre d'art contemporain d'ivry le credac
Image courtesy: the artist

CH: For this film We are nothing but stardust (2015), what inspired you to start this project? 

Caecilia Tripp: We are nothing but stardust is inspired by my encounter with the astro physicist Stephon Alexander, whom I met through my friend Paul D. Miller. Stephon is working on a book of “Physics of Jazz” and how John Coltrane’s spiritual and musical quest was linked directly to cosmological diagrams. It is about our invisible bonds and string theory, it also brings us back to the long existing cosmological science by the Dogon people of Mali and ancient Egyptian science. It gives us a larger picture of “Being’ as a cosmological being beyond all nations, borders and differences, in its smallest entity and largest, connected to all.

CH: Can you talk a little bit about how you conceived this piece and did it turn out the way you evisioned?  Were there any surprises?  

CT: I did not really know how to make a film about the invisible, but I thought it'd be beautiful as a kind of dialogue between two people or friends tracing a larger picture of thought. Thinking a fluid identity through cosmological science and music, so a kind of transgression through a shared thought. As John Coltrane said “music is able to change the patterns of thought.” Thinking of the 11 parallel universes and how we can create a wormhole, but also a wormhole between each other people.

Caecilia Tripp
We Are Nothing But Stardust, 2015
filmstill
Rattapallax Film and Centre d'art contemporain d'ivry le credac
Image courtesy: the artist

CH: The soundscape of this piece is incredibly expansive and textured, within these nuances you composed the images that all together transport the viewer to another world and space.  As you work, do you also carry this feeling of transcendence?  Perhaps this is an obvious question?  

CT: I work a lot with intuitive thinking and creative unconsciousness, because everything you can grasp yourself or nail down by the intellect in the moment itself is already limited. It is important to go beyond yourself to the unexpected and just follow what unfolds before you. It is a way musicians work. The sound of the film is just one note but in all its complexity and variations, it is like the sound of the world beginning with one sound. As Indian scientists claim, a circular sound with no end or beginning. The Dogon people just swirl a stone on a string above their head to make sound their star Sirius B.

CH: Even though film is your primary medium however you have worked and collaborated with poets, musicians, chorographers, philosophers and scientists, did I miss anyone?  What is it that you see in common with all these apparently different disciplines?  Why have you chosen to work in this capacity?  

CT: I would say that I chose collective forms and mediums over solitary studio works. The collective forms are in film, performance, music and photography, but I also create performances, paintings and sculptures through collective act. It is about dialogical imaginaries and a shared act.

CH: Since the years I've known you, you strike me as someone who is curious and brave.  You always venture outside of your immediate environment. You have carried out projects and made films in Mumbai, Dakar, the Caribbean, and of course New York and Paris where you are based.  What do these journeys and locations mean to you personally and to your work? 

CT: Mainly it is about displacement and what Edouard Glissant names “Poetics of Relation.”
It is about the displacement of yourself, of your mind and your body and the encounter of different visions of this world. Sometimes you need to change the place to see things from a different angle, see yourself from a different place, a lot of people have been displaced and uprooted throughout history and it has engaged a kind of diasporic thinking or errance of thought which works with the traces of fragments. It is all about relation, the relation to yourself and the world and the relation between you and any other person. "The world is relation and identity," as Glissant stated so wisely. Many people are in displacement right now, in in-between places fleeing war and poverty of this global capitalism.

CH: In your films, you introduce ideas of identity and history.  But what I also see is that your work is ultimately about transgressing identity and geographic boundaries.  In as such, each individual’s history is linked and also"universal."  Do you agree?  

CT: To say again with the words of Glissant- It is rather about “unity in difference”, the unwritten histories and orality as the fluidity of truth. “Universal History” has been used to coin a capitalist hegemony which still rules this world today. I have more affinity with Alice and John Coltrane’s longing of “universal consciousness”. My work is inspired by “being as philosophy”, always evolving and changing in relation to the world and its beings.


Caecilia Tripp
We Are Nothing But Stardust, 2015
filmstill
Rattapallax Film and Centre d'art contemporain d'ivry le credac
Image courtesy: the artist

CH: On this note, what makes your work so relevant today is this sense of "universalism."  Although we may come from different backgrounds yet we are all the same.  Recently we have all been witnessing the vast expansion in the global contemporary art world.  The center is gradually shifting outward and the marginal is gradually working its way inward.  Soon such binaries will overlap and perhaps give rise to something new.  What is your take on this?

CT: Yes I think we are coming closer to some state of “worldliness” which is about sharing our imagination to trigger a shared future with many ways of being and dwelling. We still have so much to learn from each other and have hardly started now.  Our shared thought and shared imagination is our capital rather than just cold profit. I see my art as a form of collective migration which can migrate in many places and walk with everyone, transgressing boundaries.

CH: What are you working on now?  Will we be seeing you again very soon?

CT: I just did quite a few new works including “Scoring the Black Hole” which is a celebration of our invisible bonds in form of  a performance with two amplified roller skaters spinning over a black canvas while tracing the Black hole with white chalk like stardust and a cosmological musical composition based on improvisation. It is a kind of ritual such as the Dogon people celebrate their star Sirius B, the Black Hole is a “no nation” place, belongs to no one and everyone at the same time. It is also a celebration of our opacities to each one another and one’s own opacity. It is directly linked to the film “We are nothing but Stardust”. You can view the performance on the website of Fondation Galerie Lafayette who produced it. It was beautiful, we had costumes by Rick Owens from the woman Cyclone Collection with straps which were meant to carry each other on the back or in the front. Michele Lamy was performing the chaos poem by Sun Ra just like an ancient Egyptian priestess!! Everyone went into trance. The suite will be coming soon.


Caecilia Tripp
We Are Nothing But Stardust, 2015
filmstill
Rattapallax Film and Centre d'art contemporain d'ivry le credac
Image courtesy: the artist


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