W Magazine Videos

Ryan McNamara’s “Battleground”: Behind the Scenes of the Artist’s Guggenheim Performance

An exclusive look at the artist’s three-night-only performance in the Guggenheim Museum’s Wright-designed Peter B. Lewis Theater, featuring cosplay costumes and epic dance battles.

Released on 5/5/2016

Credits

Starring: Ryan McNamara
Featuring: Fan Zhong
Producer: Biel Parklee

Transcript

00:02
(background chatter)
00:10
In some ways this is the weirdest piece
00:12
I've ever made and the most traditional.
00:14
(upbeat music)
00:30
But the idea for the piece actually came
00:31
a lot from the space.
00:34
One thing I felt right away is
00:36
that it has the feeling
00:38
of a 1960's sci-fi spaceship.
00:42
Another thing it reminded me of
00:43
was a European parliamentary room.
00:45
I also at the time was reading about
00:47
the Hadron particle collider,
00:49
and so you had this sci-fi aspect,
00:52
then you had this parliamentary room
00:54
where people get mad at each other and beat each other up.
00:57
And then you had the science of these particles
00:59
colliding into each other, so I started thinking
01:01
about the idea of a battle.
01:08
♫ I need somebody
01:13
♫ to love tonight
01:23
[Ryan] It's not something,
01:24
especially the dancers I work with,
01:25
are usually in anything that has a narrative.
01:28
So that is a traditional aspect of it,
01:30
there is a storytelling element.
01:32
And now I think that, that is something
01:34
that I'm interested in, is taking what's
01:37
traditionally accepted as performance and tweaking it.
01:43
♫ Swallowing diamonds, a cutting throat
01:46
♫ Your teeth when you grin reflecting beams on tombstones
01:56
♫ A jamboree of surprises...
01:58
Yeah, I'm definitely trying to use the space in ways
02:01
that it hasn't been used before.
02:04
So once I felt like I had utilized
02:09
every inch of this,
02:10
I started thinking even beyond the theatre.
02:13
Perhaps ideas of it then continues forever.
02:16
Just when you think the piece is over,
02:19
it's not over (laughs)