Interview Kevin Meehan
August 30, 2017, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Q: Why / when / how did you start to work with performance, what is your background, how did you arrive at doing performance?
My background is in theatre, working primarily as an actor in narrative based plays. About five years ago, I joined the experimental performance ensemble, New Paradise Laboratories as a deviser/performer. Since then, my perspective on what performance can be has really been shifted. To step even further away from narrative and into a more visual-centric realm, I began my own performance art practice a little over three years ago.
Q: What is your process like?
My process is a multi-angled approach. I look at what my immediate world is giving me through various media, I make sketches and write thoughts, and I play with materials that are interesting to me. Then I try to pull them all into a room and see what riddles arise. Then in performance I attempt to decode those riddles.
Q: Can you tell me about your latest project?
In my most recent projects I have been investigating the commodification of people through a quintessentially American lens. More specifically I have been exploring the idea of the professional sports player or “superstar” to examine how society’s expectations are tied to money and then how we place value on everyday people. By teasing out the problematic history that is the bedrock of these sports institutions, I am aiming to cast a light on our individual roles as bystander, victim and perpetrator in a culture that is more and more readily substituting morals with money.
Q: What role does performance art have in your life?
I also work in theatre as an actor/deviser/set designer and with installation and curation as well. These forms totally influence/inform each other but to delve into “how” properly would be much longer essay. Essentially, it boils down to how I think about bodies in a space- whether its my body, actors in a play or the audience/viewers- and how they relate to each other.
Q: How do you experience or consider the audience?
I find the audience and surroundings to be incredibly important in my work. Sometimes the physical environment is a container that I fit a piece into or it’s the final element to complete a work, either way it is part of the puzzle that I find fun to “problem solve”. As for the audience, and this is probably my background in theatre influencing me, but I always tend to cast them in my mind. I think of who they are as a collective, what they may think they are witnessing and I position myself in relation to that. It’s not necessarily accurate but it gives me a jumping-off point in order to have some sort of relationship with them.