The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.
Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.
With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.
Miles Greenberg (b. 1997 in Montreal, QC, Canada) is a performance artist, sculptor and researcher of corporal movement based between New York.
His practice centres around explorations of the body in space, pushing its limits through durational performance and sculptural form. His work consists of large-scale sensorially-immersive environments which revolve around the physical body.
At age seventeen, Greenberg left formal education and threw himself into a four-year independent research project studying movement and architecture as they relate to Black bodies. This spanned a number of residencies including École Jacques Lecoq and Musée du Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Red Gate Gallery Beijing and Long Island’s Watermill Center. He has a largely self-acquired background in linguistics, perfumery and physical theatre, and has studied under the direction of various mentors such as Édouard Lock, Robert Wilson and Marina Abramović.
Greenberg’s form is the result of rigorous methodology which resides at the threshold of performance and sculpture. The work follows self-contained, non-linear systems of logic which are best understood in relation to one another.
How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?
My mother was an actress in a Russian absurdist theatre troupe and she never sent me to daycare. My earliest memories are from being on a tour bus in Europe full of Russian clowns and bouffon actors. When I was thirteen she took me to see The Artist Is Present at MoMA and this is how durational performance entered my life. After dropping out of school at seventeen, I interned for Edouard Lock in Beijing and subsequently lived there for six months in a residency. I then moved to Paris to go to École Jacques Lecoq where I studied movement and architecture.
What inspires you to make your work?
Obsessions and compulsions.
Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?
I love how unafraid Bob Wilson is of enormous amounts of empty space onstage. It’s easy to add and add out of fear, it’s more challenging to do less. I try to allow for this in my own work when possible as well. Bob is a master at breaking down an idea to its purest essence. I like to think of this as allowing space for the audience to dream.
Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?
When I first moved to Paris in 2016, I quickly found myself among an exciting community of young queer artists of colour. Few of us were getting visibility in any serious context. I found the Parisian art scene to be highly academic and particularly exclusionary towards local Black artists.
Eventually, after about three years of not landing any shows, Palais de Tokyo invited me to do a performance residency in 2019. This was by far the biggest opportunity I’d ever had by that time, it was essentially my debut. The space was enormous, so I decided to have a huge cast – I brought in all the young Black artists and thinkers I knew who were doing interesting and underrecognized work in the city to come and inhabit it with me. I created a massive installation full of organic matter in the basement that was activated weekly by a rotating slew of 25-30 performers at a time, all bringing something of their own to the table. I also blew the entire budget to make sure every person who participated got compensated appropriately.
This is something I’m really proud of.
How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?:
Late October was a seven hour piece created in the midst of COVID, originally performed at Galleria Continua in Les Moulins, just outside of Paris. While we of course followed all the appropriate regulations applicable at the time, it was the first time many of the performers had interacted with people outside of their nuclear circles in months. It was a real social experiment in this way. When I rewatch the footage from the one-on-one ‘fight scenes’ in the performance, I think the urgency that was expressed by each performer was completely real; there was a palpable thirst for human touch, for discovering the unknown of another’s body in a distilled and unrehearsed context.
Almost all of the performers were people I’d worked with individually in the past, but they were all relative strangers to one another. This added a layer of experimentation that I found very interesting because you could see a communal dynamic being born naturally and nonverbally onstage as the piece unfolded.
Has your work been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past?
I’ve exhibited internationally in biennials, group exhibitions and have completed a number of artist residencies with private institutions or galleries. I most recently showed at the New York branches of Perrotin Gallery and Jeffrey Deitch Gallery respectively, and Lévy Gorvy in London. I have my first official solo show of sculptures (based on the Late October project) taking place in Toronto in September 2021 at Arsenal Contemporary.
In 2019 I did a residency at Palais de Tokyo, and then subsequently participated in their performance festival, Do Disturb.
I have one piece (an edition of a video I made in 2020) that was very recently acquired into the collection of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?
The two biggest challenges in making immaterial work are (1) having the work be taken seriously in institutional settings, and (2) being considered commercially viable in for-profit settings. Performance artists are so often relegated, in one way or another, to being accessories to other supposedly more serious artforms, but I think the art I make is completely serious.
I’m currently at a stage in my career in which I’m developing the conversation around my work and establishing proof of concept, to the public and to institutions, that the work I’m making is just as important as painting or sculpture. I think this conversation is rapidly evolving, and as it does, my work is also becoming increasingly interdisciplinary.
That being said, Late October in particular is a perfect example of what remains at the nucleus of my practice, which is the durational, the corporal, and the immaterial. As an artist whose primary medium makes it such that I often have little to sell, it would be an opportunity to have my artistic endeavours recognized monetarily in a very substantial way. To have this work recognized by the CIRCAECONOMY Prize would be an enormous step forward for me in creating visibility and legitimacy around my art practice, as well as giving me the opportunity to further expand it.
What would you do with the money?
It would all go towards future artworks. It would help to cover operating costs for my upcoming shows. When the budget increases, so too can the scale of the ideas.
If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?
The most immediate result will be that the salaries of the people I involve in my work can be increased. Performers need money after a pandemic, and I think that the most direct impact I can have on my community is to extend any opportunity I receive into an avenue for others in my community to get paid.
I have a few more performances of a similar nature and scale to Late October planned for the end of 2021/the beginning of 2022.
If and when my work becomes a generative conduit by means of which not only ideas, community, and visibility may be fostered, but tangible income for the people that partake in it may be procured as well, then that’s when I’m doing my job right.