This transcript is from an interview that was first published on 12th of July 2018. It is a warm interview that covers so much of Phillip Adams work. This transcript has been edited slightly to help with clarity, the audio of this episode and more information can be found here.
This interviews was an absulute pleasure, and if time allowed we would have been able to chat for hours and hours. This interview gives an amazing insight in to Phillips work and background, after the interview he wrote saying: “BRAVO you are a mighty inspiration and thank you for allowing me to voice my dance stories and crazy process. I wish I could be more articulate at the best of times so I hope some listeners get a kick out of it as much as we did during our session. I loved every moment of it.”
Transcripts are a new initiative of Delving into Dance and over the following months we will be experimenting with the form of the transcripts, we welcome any feedback regarding the form and layout. These transcripts are paid for through the support of audiences and supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. It would be wonderful to have your contribute to this initative, You can contribure here. A big thank you to Jack Fordham, whose support got this episode over the line.
The interview stated with a question of where did dance started for Phillip.
Phillip Adams: I consider myself a consistent emerging practitioner I don't think I've actually have succeeded in finding my practice because it keeps on shifting. So if I have to think back when it all started, I was brought up in Papua New Guinea, in a very remote part of Port Morseby, Port Morseby is the capital, and the town which I grew up in was more of a Village. And in that village strangely enough their was a Ballet school taught by lay teacher from the UK to teach tap dancing and jazz on Saturday mornings in a hut on concrete outdoor.
How I came across that particular, Ballet School tap dancing and jazz ballet school was, I was run over by a car in a local village like a truck hit me just ran out of the preschool and got knocked six feet in the air. Thank goodness it had a bull bar on the front and fractured my left pelvis. You know, I was only three years old… three and a half, so I don't remember it. But the physical therapy was so backward at that time that the, the doctor suggested that when the bone had knitted, kids bones knit pretty quick. Just a broken pelvis… that I do tap dancing in jazz ballet and ballet on Saturday mornings to strengthen the little leg, tendu, plié, a rond du jambe and I start so purely by accident. Literally. I began moving late 60s.
Andrew: So that truck driver set up your whole career. [3:10]
Phillip Adams: Then the succession of my career in dance then just went into what High School, Rock Eisteddfod and that kind of conversation one has when you're doing musicals at school, etc. And always attending the local ballet school wherever I lived in Australia until one day and this is the defining point where I founded a contemporary conversation with movement. I graduated from school in Canberra. Marist Brothers, in the very early 80’s, hitchhiked to Sydney as one does when you're 19 years old and auditioned for the Mike Walsh show it’s like a day time, actually morning TV show where they would have a pop star be a guest such as Olivia Newton John, Johnny Farnham and then the rest of the enclave of pop artists of that era and do backup dancing. l actually began as a channel nine dancer in 1984 in Sydney and one of the dances on the show said ‘You know Phillip you're always making up the routines and we kind of think you should go to this school in Melbourne called the VCA- Victorian College Of The Arts.’
So I hitchhiked to Melbourne as I do. With boy proof jeans ripped denim with a punk with my ass hanging out the back steel cap shoes I had a red Mohawk I think at the time and too many started belts on that's almost weighed me down and walked into an audition and I got into VCA.
Then the history of the time I spent there was very informative through a postmodern education at the time Nanette Hassall was my educator and I still take my hat off to her today. Then swiftly found myself post graduation living in New York with Rebecca Hilton and Lucy Guerin and spent that 10 years as really informative years that inspired me being around art and dance and working with this choreographer and meeting that artists they were the greatest and most informative years of my life to move to New York in 1988 years 10 years in the East Village and came back to Australia.
Andrew: Let’s talk more about that time in New York. [5:42]
Phillip Adams: It is foggy. New York was my mentor it taught me everything in survival tactics of you know literally how to get from A to B and manage myself without a care in the world and I have to say the French say folie insouciante, like a carefree folly of the time, year New York was my mentor.
Andrew: What were some of those particular experiences? [6:16]
Phillip Adams: Well in 1988 go back and I lived on Sixth Street between Avenue A and B was like a fallout shelter there was cars on fire I used to dodge the bullets and you know the crack houses and the white Aussie dude, 22 years old but could find it a very colorful shift from what growing up in Papua New Guinea jungle paradise to the concrete jungle of the city. No fear at that age just go, right.
And opening the Village Voice and seeing the dance section and reading reviews by Deborah Jowitt. This is the year early introductions to the work and New York’s a City that in that time you change your friends, like you change your underwear. There is it's just an immediate, it's right there. It's it's very now. And I think it was rawer. It hadn't yet reached the globalised generisism that it has today. It was sexier it was dirtier.
And you just don't know how you survived what you did. Yeah, you pound the pavement in the way that the rhythm of the city just enveloped swallow you up and I loved every minute of it. I wouldn't change it for a moment and yeah, I just started taking classes and going to auditions and then all of a sudden found myself in a company in a job and I got employed and that's how it all worked out. And I spent 10 years and invested that time. It was my second education, in dance.
Andrew: And what kind of dance were you doing at the time? [8:11]
Phillip Adams: It was very down town. There was a division there is a line between 59th Street and the downtown and the Uptown, so New York City Ballet, and the MET, City Centre is an uptown, Cunningham and Martha Graham, that was a school of thinking, and downtown is the radical space with Stephen Petronio. And Trisha Brown Dance Company and B.B Miller and a smattering of independent artists that I worked with them all. Basically, I did my time. Yeah, and I then yeah, and that was a very romantic time for me, as well as sort of being to be falling in love with this, the Encyclopedia of a movement in history that I feel came out of New York, which was trying to think of it in the way that I see it now was carving out a space between what was the forbearers of the postmodern era into a more dynamic and virtuosic shift where technique became qualified itself and warranted more experimentation with the choreographers of that era, and I was part of that really heavy dance period, dance was really important. Dance is a language now in the context of technique and learning how to find a frame in order to position that is not relevant to next generation dance makers who think they see it as historic the way that we look back at a Cunningham work or Cage work or a Simone Forti part of the Judson movement that's the new generation see that era of the 80s and 90s as a similar fashion.
Andrew: And they don’t see that lineage necessarily. [10:06]
Phillip Adams: No, they observe it and learn it but they're not interested in engaging with it through their practice I think there is a retrospect in their bodies which is inherited through what is available at this time in history and and the last of the choreographers are of a certain age bracket that still hold that battered and are of influence and I love that the next generation sees observed that as part of that but I'm not engaged with the way that was a big thing to see a foresight work.
Andrew: And what was the turning point to come home or was it coming home or was it…
Phillip Adams: A couple of breakups with few boyfriends probably or think that maybe that had something to do with it. Probably true.
I feel like I've done my homework there was 10 years and the relationship need to break up with the city and and I needed to go and explore Phillips conversation around making and I had more opportunities in Australia more money and more support structure. The city there's nothing in New York was available to you through funds wise you worked four other jobs, partied till four in the morning but you still got up did your thing.
Andrew: Yeah, it's not sustainable forever.
Phillip Adams: No, and nothing's changed it's still the same model, like pure necessity that you have to make part of your life.
Andrew: For somebody who's not a dance maker or dance artist what is that drive to communicate with your body because it's something that is spoken about solemn is that real drive to make and create with a body? [12:00]
Phillip Adams: It's a really good question. I will answer in that it's viral yeah, I think its my DNA structure the molecule, the makeup of movement is inherited really early genetically into my body and that that pulse is addiction it's part of a complex experiences that for a Choreographer like me, consistently needs to receive the infection. Yeah.
I like that jarring and the jolt and the bad news of something which is actually really for me, well if I'm talking about experimentation. Yeah, like how to find the system working for you genetically, to consistently be inside of the practice. Yeah, and it's an addiction. Yeah. And it's also a disability.
Luke George, a colleague of mine said, dances like a disability in itself, like, once you've inherited genetic makeup of it, it haunts you forever.
And I think you have a really interesting point of entry. This a turning point that one makes as an artist, a mover, movement artist to commit.
Yeah, and then happened to me around my mid thirties, I guess this is it. I think, no, Plan B, I can do one thing. And maybe that's, that's, that's what it's going to be an accept that and once that's accepted, I felt that I was freed from commitment elsewhere. [14:01]
Andrew: As your work LIVE WITH IT we all have HIV. I've done a lot of research in kind of HIV space and had the privilege of interviewing people who are living with HIV positive and have lived with it for various generations. And that sense that we are all living with it.
The 80’s in New York and early 90s, it's a very particular time in how HIV affected the community. And it was very clear in that work, which was actually quite removed from dance was intersected with your personal histories with the histories of other people in that shared HIV story.
Phillip Adams: I’ve got to think back to comment on that work. Yeah, I can say that the epidemic was horrific. And the art that came out of that era, not just performance, Body, Sculptural body, visual body is left in this scar tissue in the bodies of the people that were either A, infected or not infected, and I still carry that conversation with me. And, you know I felt the necessity to to go back and address that part of the epidemic and translate that to what was going on here in Melbourne at the time and I lived in New York through the epidemic and yes, going to say 75% of my friends died and it was like it was really the cliché watching them drop off like flies one week you were in the studio doing contact improvisation within the next week they were not there. Yeah that was really hard yeah. And I remember that and actually see that, when I say I remember that I recall the fear of it so much that that particular work LIVE WITH IT, we all have HIV, made here in Melbourne for the World AIDS Conference, 2014.
At the end of the process, I think why did I do that? Why did I go back and touch that space and I think it were that the people who participated in it had a story and a history that needed to be told and to do it through the purpose of performance art or conversation or text or film or visual space was a was an outlet in a format for them to talk about the survival the beauty of it the trauma of it and now living post the epidemic and I particularly, I'm an artist that chooses conversations with my body and with other bodies that provoke something in me that I don't know about myself and that one really challenged me I'll tell you a quick story if I may.
I went to Italy, I was on tour with B.B Miller Dance Company…. Okay so quick story my boyfriend came over, Paul at the time time we flew back after a quick trip somewhere after a tour as you do. He got flu is looking really crook and I got better real quick and then there's that moment ‘there it is this’, the thought, you were writing the story, he goes to hospital and I'm down doing a rehearsal somewhere in Soho with an artist that I'm working with at the time Christian Marclay.
I get home to the answering machine, ‘Hi Phillip This is Dr so and so, I think you need to come up Paul’s in hospital’ so I already know the answer right I know what's going to happen I go in there and life changes and he’s in bed with a machine and you know a drip going and he's really ill and the doctor says ‘look you know Paul has AIDS’ and I kind of remember the shock of semi trailer being like the action of being hit you know and so I go into a little bit of shock and I'm in a room with a counselor and all I did was put my arm out to them and said could you take my blood please and tell me the answer and I had to wait a week or two weeks or something and the doctor said ‘you’ll live to be an old man Phillip you’re okay you don't have this disease but you keep yourself regularly tested and whatnot’.
So, I've watched Paul die and you know it was really tragic in my life and I sort of look back at it as a memory and sort of that I was scarred with the fact that my partner actually did die like really watching to holding him in my arms just that last breath go away.
And then I think that space created a sorrow in me of a survival in me a fear in me and a work that I had to make to release the fear years, and years later, like the post epidemic trauma, out through these other brave souls who came into the work who are positive and gave there story. So I think this all my work has a hark back to childhood nostalgia.
And that's rethought the rethink of that into these fantasies and queer spaces to which I then play them out and I need other bodies to help me do it. So I don't call them dancing bodies I call them bodies that are willing to come into my process and risk it all yeah I can be quite brash with my processes.
So yeah I'm a person I’m 52 and I lived through the epidemic my partner did die of the era and that's life that's part of the makeup of I think the risk of…
Andrew: It hit the arts so particularly because that was a safe space for queers, you can just imagine how many creative we lost and how different the creative ecologies would be had that not wiped out so many incredible voices and thinkers and visionaries. [21:03]
Phillip Adams: Visionaries. Yes! I think you've nailed it yeah they were visionaries. I think of Klaus Noemi one of the original, yeah opera punk and the theatre of his history.
Andrew: Coming straight out of gay liberation as well the momentum for change and agitation.
Phillip Adams: Was it 97 when I think there was like a point if you live to that point you got over the line. Yeah, you know for years I was paranoid. I would still go get tested and remember a doctor just patting my hand, ‘You know Phillip you’ve gotta stop you’re okay.’
But I obviously had the fear still in me. You know, I still carry that that moment.
Andrew: But that idea of live with it. That you are all living with it.
Phillip Adams: Yeah! So I had lived with it wasn't in my body in the way it's a virus but I had lived with the sorrow.
It’s just great to talk about it.
Andrew: So in terms of your process, what is your process? [22:50]
Phillip Adams: Yeah, I don't have one. Sorry. I know that what I do know about my process is that it's a psycho thriller here. It's a rambunctious child, it's narcissistic, it accumulates a truckload of stuff to sift through the rubbish bin and make sense of what those materials and objects and cinematic references are.
And then my process is about completely letting go of a process in order to get on with what it is I really want to say and allow my audience to be absorbed into it or actually seduced into it as a bit of a Marquis De Sade, in there I think, like a tortured moment that is seductive
The end result of most of my work is doesn’t really I think succeed in being satisfactory a satisfied dance with performance art work, but I feel audience connect with this enough memory in it for the audience's to go that could be me or I would have done that. And that's where I think I allow people to see this person I am in the process. Yeah, it's about behavior.
I'm a queer person who imagine people see me as a person or what is a queer person?
I don't know what queer is, I mean, it's defined by every generation. Yeah, we make it up as we go along. It actually does have no definition really, other than strange, unusual, Bent off kilter, you know, so yeah, I think that it has a genuine coloration of flamboyant behavior qualities and I'm like that in the studio.
I often can’t articulate the experiences to which I want the artist working with me to be in, I make everything up. I do all of it I improvise for such a long sessions, until, I exhaust myself.
And they're often extreme, I conduct in a very extreme way. And I think that artists that want to work with me or are drawn to me, also want to have that same tortured or punished or traumatic desire to, to get into a body that they haven’t been in before.
For example, at the moment I'm obsessed with the Wurlitzer, organ that would be raised out of the cinema, proscenium arch and at intermission played while people got their ice cream in the foyer. So we're talking to St Kilda Astor, so the sinister and roller rink and the haunting sounding Woody Allen soundtracks I think use Wurlitzer’s which was a replacement for the entire orchestra is conducting itself towards me. I have a musical background, I have a degree in musicology, orchestration so music is very important to everything that I create.
I'm really a hangover from the American postmodernist, I think that's where I’d slip into the history. But what defines my work away from I think what we described as more of a generic space. It's, it's decidedly queer, and I can't tell you what that is but if I have two organs at the moment and two young boys. And they're obviously reflections of me, running back and forth playing an organ note, and then these two little go karts that drive around the organ. And it seems like a Willy Wonka moment but a real or Tommy The Who, or the sort of films that are coming into it imagery, but their musical explorations of the notes themselves, which are colour coded and all the Casio and the Drum box and the rhythm and the tango all going at once in my head. So there's like a, there was an album put out in the 1970s called a Moog, yes I don’t know if you know, they would play classics like reveal, or Beethoven's Fifth on a moog, which was an instrument which was a real synthesizer and whatnot.
So I remember the record cover album, which was a man's head with 20 cables coming out of it, like, leads very 70s a bit bit Sergeant Pepper's Lonely heart club man kind of vibe. And that's the cover, and I start with the image. And I remember putting the record on in the needle on the vinyl and then then dancing to it and then making up a show in the living room, sort of entertaining the parent’s kind of thing. And that's that child space. It's honestly what I will do. But you know these things are never seen in the work yeah, they are just experiments and I let go of it and often the artists that work with me are hugely frustrated that we worked for a year on this one moment, and you're not even going to use it, I said yeah, but that's the beauty you’ve gotta let go. Because you've got a better idea.
Yeah, but it's there if you need it, where I think a lot of choreography fails to, where it fails and I never wanted to use the word fails, but it does fail itself up because it's still holding on to the experience to which was processed in the studio originally and really not relinquished, unleashed like a hound to its to its master. And that's how I I kind of go you've gotta let it go.
The last, I'm jumping subjects here, you've got me talking about that. I made a work for the Melbourne Festival last year called ‘Ever’ and I spent one year rolling with people literally just would ask people off the street, if you would roll with me for an hour, a really intimate moment, like it would be you don't know your body and it's very intimate. It has a sexual space, but it also has a nurturing space. And this went on for a year I would literally, yeah….
Andrew: How many people said yes? [29:48]
Phillip Adams: Most of them would say yes, yeah. I would just walk down Bourke Street and pick somebody and go look, you know, I'm an artist it's a very unusual thing to ask you when I don't know how do you feel about coming next Wednesday to a studio if I can give you my number and roll with some dances me and people like oh yeah, what's said about or you know, people don't care others will totally you know, think I’m a freak and go, hey Sorry no mate! But the process of doing it is part of the work yeah, it's breaking the barrier of it. And then in the final product is 25 meter inflatable by David Cross with body bags color coded in the Mondrian modernist space to the music of Ricard Strauss bit by to humanize the work completely. And there's no body in it or removed the corporal altogether and it's just paint. So. But to get from that to painting and film is the level of experimental condition to which I must do in order to show what I really want to say. [30:54]
Andrew: And I think you make a really good point because all those processes are so often what happened in the studio removed from an audience and audiences don't necessarily understand the steps that somebody has taken to get to that point. All those different sketches…
Phillip Adams: That really upsets me, it's a real bugger they don’t see that. But they see an end result. And they can only assess it based on what they see.
which is an interesting point. That's probably why I'm moving my audiences a little closer. Yeah, I think we talked about when we started a conversation tomorrow. And I think from very early moments there, we're asking the audience to come up and participate and hold a blanket and be naked and go through a cult. Dutch science fiction, maybe there’s too many, Spielberg films references in that. And but yeah, that is sort of asking just for you to step over an point of confronting moment and an intimate moment. That might not work. And it's about that seduction, and eventually surrender to the impulse. [32:19]
Andrew: In terms of seduction and sex and sexuality. Your work is often not always but is colored by gets a queer look at bodies, bodies in space, the nude body. Because even in Tomorrow everyone is naked. And the audience is then invited into this.
Phillip Adams: Yea, we had the nude night. They sold out in five minutes because the audience was totally naked. The utopia was finally a complete work. And it was a one off so that was great.
Yeah, you’re right to be in the work, you had to actually you paid for the ticket, and then you take your clothes off in the foyer and then you actually you undress together and then the work begins. And there was that one performance, which is not recorded because you can’t just exploit that person in the public domain.
Which leads me to the work after Tomorrow. It's called After. Yeah, I made a work called After. I don’t know if you saw it, yes. Yeah. You came to the massage table. And yes, this was also another another clue. Yeah. Only a clue. That's all it was. It's about figuring out once you lock eyes I don't know. Do you participate in it? Did we lock eyes at one point?
Andrew: Yeah probably.
Phillip Adams: Yeah, and once the lock is in you never take your eyes off each other, but it's the trust will he touch me? What's my role in this?
Is he trying to abduct me or is he actually having a sexual fantasy with me and I hope you thought all of those things.
Andrew: It's a negotiated intimacy isn’t. You’re negotiating a sense of intimacy or a sense of connection that is otherwise not necessarily always present. [34:19]
Phillip Adams: Beautifully said, yeah. That's it I think you said it better than I which is not otherwise you can never encounter that.
Andrew: And a lot of your work does that on different scales in different moments.
Phillip Adams: Yes, yes it does it operates either in a overtly flamboyant way or a very personal deeply personal way.
Talking about After just the one. And I think After is a quite superficial because it's manufactured you're given a floor sheet you have to take a choice you choose to wear like a gown to the science fiction, Elizabeth Taylor accepting her Academy Award in 1972, it is exactly the same gown. So they're all reference for it, or be nude did you choose to be naked or, you wore the gown. And those that wore the gown were Like, I wonder what it's like if I was naked? Yeah. And those that were naked said that to me. I wonder what it was like if I wore the gown. So the work in conclusion is about your decision at the beginning of the clue is when you get that floor sheet whether you choose to do it naked or put on the gown, the works irrelevant. That choice is what it's about.
It's interesting, isn't it? Because you're already confronted with it.
Andrew: Why is nudity confronting?
Phillip Adams: It is confronting for me in the process of Performance Base in that the fragility or the vulnerability of sexual of a situation which can be sexually amplified is available, if it were closed it is not available.
So I try to find the challenge each time I want to work naked. And push it further and further, in order to find out perhaps more about my fetishistic desires, the reverse of the work is that you go into a white room afterwards a dark room mirrors, naked on a table. And that is your passive role. The next work is in a white room you are in fact, the person who walks into the room is already a body on the table. And you're given five minutes only to do whatever you want with that body.
So you reverse the roles and now you do the work in two sections. So this before and after, and your fantasy you make that decision. What if it's a female 75 year old body that you're in the room with? And she's on the table and you're allowed to do whatever you want with her, there’s permission, Yeah. What would you do? You’d probably sit in the corner and think about it? Or walk out? Or what if I did touch her? Yeah, there is a taboo because, but if she were clothed. Would you want to talk to her? Do whatever you want but now the experiment opens up further and about intimacy and about provocation? Yeah, and I did have some really interesting encounters with after some people who chose to sexually amplify the work. There was a couple of customers but I chose not to engage. It was really interesting the negotiation changed.
Andrew: In putting that kind of potentially sexual and sex into a work do you somewhat challenge normative notions or other people's. [38:36]
Phillip Adams: How do you become the subject of my fetishism? That's what it's about? That's my process. I think you've helped me unpack my work. I just think it for me, it has to not be from a newspaper clipping in someone else's story. It's got to be real for me.
Otherwise, I'm just replicating somebody else’s inspired moment in history. Yeah, there's so many problems with dance. So many conditions, that there is a hark back to the 60s and 70s which I feel is where it sits right now. You know, working in in a gallery is one escape for it to an outlet to be public, and to be putting a bleach and arrangement and very bourgeois environment still exists and bores the shit out of me I don’t connect at all I just sit down and go, Okay, I'm just watching history even if it's from a contemporary choreographer I still go, Oh, yeah, that's right. I remember this. I sit down and I watch it go. And then there's the arrangement that we have that I tend to wallow in a bit more or succeed in finding experiences with people that I don't know that come to watch.
I think there's a lot of danger in the statement, feel free to move around. I want to walk just walk in, like a selfie with me or you and walk out What do you want me to do this no instruction. I think that people need instructions. They want to participate. They want guidance, and they want to, to find the spirits between what is going on live and what is happening in the third dimension. Outside the falsities of the theater and that's where I see it a bit. The Wizard of Oz, Toto pulled the curtain back and he was you know, operating all that me I think I have that Oz or that Willy Wonka trick. A bit of Magic. There’s a bit of the child wanting to entertain his parents still. Back where we were talking about earlier. Nothing's changed much. They're all part of who I am. But we just see them in sort of cinematic spaces. I think my works like I feel that most of my work now that I'm generating is very cinematic, but lives Yeah, it's off the silver screen onto the floor.
Andrew: And they challenge I guess, normal, normal modes of communication, preconceptions. Maybe that's what makes it really queer? [41:28]
Phillip Adams: Queer, Yeah. There’s a definitely like a yes, I don’t know about the Queer thing. It’s very very 90’s isn’t it?
Andrew: Is it?
Phillip Adams: Yeah, it kind of coined it… or drag kind of when it had to find a commercial space so there it was done and now it's just regular. I don't think there’s anything queer left we're not even in post queer we're just it's just it I think it ended with the dandy. Quentin Crisp and Sebastian Horsley and the movement of dandy-ism was sort of at its peak of, of public display of a flamboyant behavior like a peacock and then drag as an art form is very commercial and a bit par say.
Andrew: I think there’s still queer. I just think there's a lot of people that take on an idea of a queer aesthetic, but not necessarily a queer politic. [42:34]
Phillip Adams: No, they discover it then dress up like dress ups, yeah pantomime.
Andrew: You look good in Fitzroy.
Phillip Adams: It's right yeah, I think taking it into club culture like into performance space is not that interesting for me. But it has to be done and someone’s got to do it.
Andrew: So looking back put us in like turning points in your career or some highlights or particular moments either good or bad that have shifted.
Phillip Adams: Yeah I want to thank Christian Marclay, he’s a composer and a turntablelist and a vision maker put him in that bracket. I was at a benefit PS122 in New York dancing and there was David Lynch was there, a few stars, raising money and I got to make a work for it. I was a dancer at the time with everyone and and I put a book in on stage at five, 5pm and then at 5am, I put another bookend on stage so I said the book into the evening like literally like object work and Christian Marclay, who I didn't know this at the time. And who is the guy who did the bookend piece with objects in there, Oh that’s Phillip he dances with Trisha Brown.
So he came to me and said, Look, I'm making this piece in Munich at the state Bavarian opera, and I'm looking for a choreographer to work with objects that I would like to employ.
I was like cool, that sounds great. I was 28 I think, and so I quit my job and moved to Munich with him for six months. And I was allowed access to the State Bavarian Opera’s props Department called Das Fundus which means Lost and Found actually. And so that's you know, chandeliers and bobby pins and pianos and fridges like I mean talking 100 years or more of props in the department in the attic. And so what I did is…. he goes, ‘what you like to do with them?’ So, I laid them all out in color codes or the brown stuff the green stuff the white goods and the opera singers over five hours make a whole flea market on the opera house of stage it's about 3000 seater whilst he played. And this was the beginning this was the les enfants de la magie, Children of The Magic. It had a teacup dancing with a spoon. For me it was the time of the object I'm learning how to find relationships with materials and he goes, well Phillip you know you really should continue to find your experiences to be a visual artist, and went what’s a Visual Artist? I didn’t even know what that was. And a mover so he really influenced me to make and and I saw that footage of that work. So it's like five times the size of this room is sitting in there which is 15 meters by nine so that's a lot of stuff to leave around under five hours to figure it for and it had to have the scale of it had to go from five meters down to the floor. So that all in at the end it's an installation it's short film but it has to be repacked to buy and then presented over the next night so this was my first as a defining point in my career where I I understood my relationship and love of object and structure and architecture on my second greatest moment that I can I'm actually having one right now I’m building a house and and that's my dream to live in the house that I’ve designed if I weren’t an artist practitioner, choreographer, whatever you want to call it. I would have been an architect or a baker. I’ve got a panache for Baking and I wish I was off the Great British Bake Off that's one of my dreams and we're off track here but that’s where I operate best.
Also I think back at first work that I ever made called Amplification, apparently it’s a master work people say. It hasn’t its been a bane of my side. People still today will go hell to leather for me to remount it. Next year its 20th anniversary, it toured the world. I once had world domination I was really lucky to tour, be a successful choreographer and was having my work shown in this that and the other. I don't have that desire anymore, Temperance Hall is my space and this is where I show my work I don't need to tour I don't need to go anywhere.
I want to be here this is the mind of my mind is here showing here and that's kind of interesting model to be having now. I think of the most un programmable artist in Australia so I make my own space.
From what I understand festival model has had its heyday it’s finished, it's not that it’s shopping mall stuff now it's just not very sexy. I think there are much more interesting festivals than our major city festivals like Dance Massive festival people want the intimate boutique and feel that I think that the hangover that times putting on spectacles is very middle class and there's nothing wrong with that it's just that's what its become. It's just to work that's made in that condition that you know you're gonna spend $130 and it is shopping
Andrew: And it is shopping mall in the sense that the same work can be programmed in Sydney and Melbourne festival [48:50]
Phillip Adams: Exactly just because it's Wayne McGregor and all of awesome doesn't mean it's good. Right, It's just labels you can buy them anywhere right when it's custom made that's when you get a lot of people love bespoke they like to get off on something that nobody else can get and I think Temperance Hall is that space.
I will never put of seating bleacher in this room then it will become a venue or a theatre, I’m fucked, I’m out just another house Malthouse, Dance House, Art House. There's no point this room has to have an imagination for the artists as opposed to condition to which they have to abide by or a rule and that's what the word temperance is a perfect marriage for me because I'm probably the most untemperant artist, but I focus it makes me focus and I'm a non drinker so it's a marriage made in heaven isn’t it so greatest highlights were that piece by Christian Marclay and there was the house on building now and this venue that on a hand on to the next visionary artist who take it into its next space so my job is to fix this joint up and support merging practice and have a flexible space that's operates between visual body and action body here and what is the you know the gallery and the performance space collide no black and white box stuff could get into that but it really our interests here to to explore both the paradigms between us that word lightly sorry visual performance body as much as we can so our program is balanced but actually what be contradicting work the whole point of our conversation today is that I'm actually really shy and conservative person underneath it all I’m very honest about that I think the front bit like all of this oozing of excitement is real but inside I'm just a scared little child still surviving.
Andrew: David McAllister said something quite similar going into a room as the artistic director is a mask…. [51:05]
Phillip Adams: …absolutely…
Andrew: …..Does not feel comfortable going into the room as David McAllistar.
Phillip Adams: It’s weird I go into that room of that that money in that opening and I just become someone else I’m this other character, it's instant it's like it's like instant coffee it's like that the minute the door opens here and I do it really really easily to I just somehow slip into conversations and work myself into circles of people and all of a sudden it's there whereas the reality is I'm quite a shy and internal person that has a fear of death yeah so that's why I keep on like avoiding it. All my work is only about dying, look at them all it’s all about the afterlife Yeah, yeah, I think that tomorrow is about that space to which existing in above an amplification is about the catastrophe the car crash, the 1.6 seconds Association on the timeframes, we have a head on collision and you sort of go into that warp space there will definitely spark which I continue to try to reach the point where hopefully die making so I wont know so it will be quick. Single Man right. The last line and film became quick. So yeah, we've covered a lot of ground!
Andrew: Thank you so much!
Phillip Adams: I hope I haven’t bored you!
Andrew: No it’s been great! A lot to talk about. Yeah.
Phillip Adams: Yeah I’ve got obsessions and my biggest obsession is modernism. Yeah, I'm a victim, Andy Warhol paved the way and didn't let any of us walk. He stopped it. That was the end. I think that was the last the last bus out and then we're just a hangover of art that come from that factory.