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"I made a piece on work, but I don't go to work" - Claudio Stellato
Katharina Where are you right now?
Claudio I am on a boat and I prepared this television set, like you told me (laughs). We are in a harbour with a lot of neighbours. The harbour is closed, so inside we are free here to do whatever we want, we can move everywhere we want.
Tim What inspires you in this time?
Claudio In this time? I think my girlfriend does. For example, she did this beautiful mask for me (laughs). And also my son and my daugther, they inspire me a lot. I discover a lot of stuff that I didn’t see before.
Tim I discover my garden in these times. Maybe I will change my job, who knows...
Claudio (laughs) Everybody is thinking the same, don’t worry.
Tim And what's your next job?
Claudio Oh, I don't know, give me two or three months more of this jail (laughs).
Katharina What came into your mind when you heard the festival slogan, "I love you stranger"?
Claudio I thought: Oh yes, baby! (laughs) It is a good message. We need a lot of sentences like this in the moment. It is a subliminary message that is entering the brain.
But when I avoid all the cliché answers, about strangers or people from abroad... I am a stranger. If you love me, it is great. You know, I quit my country so many years ago. I come originally from Italy and I left now 25 years ago.
I always feel like a stranger, even where I live.
Tim You take up to three years for a creation. How important is time for you?
Claudio For many people, the main slogan is to go fast. They create in one month, in twenty days, in eight weeks. And I think it is a strange contradiction to criticize society that goes too fast and to create super fast. So, me in life I am super fast, in creation I am super slow.
I am a contradiction.
But because I love what I do, this passion needs the time that it needs. The creation needs the time that it needs. There is not a clear time for a creation for me. When a work is finished, it is finished, not before, not after.
Tim You also give each production a specific focus with an own website...
Claudio You know, for that my reference is always Johann le Guillerm. You can't find him in the Internet. I can't be as extreme as him - no website, nothing.
I don't want to have a website on myself as a company, I don't need it. I don't need to be something specific. But every performance is a very important object and therefore with an own website.
Tim Do you separate work and life?
Claudio No (laughs)
Tim But your last piece was about work
Claudio I have to tell you, for me it is about a passion. I don't go into the studio to work. I don't work. I have the chance to have a passion. So, for me, I go into a studio and I can play for myself, with objects, and the people pay me to play. It's super. You know, when I go into the studio, the hours go faster, it is not a super fight with myself. And if the day is very bad, finding solutions is also a super nice exercise.
With every performance that I do I learn a lot, it is a life-experience, it is not a performance.
So I am becoming something new, more and more. In the last creation, I learned so much in terms of tools and bricolage-work and creation that I change a lot.
Tim Skills that serve you on your boat quite well in this current situation, I guess...
Claudio Yes. You know, bricolage on a boat is high-level, because you have to fight against water. You can have very hard problems on a boat that you have to solve with a very calm attitude if something happens. If the boat is starting to go under water, you have to be very calm and make the right action to solve your problem. I’m trying to learn this to become a super expert in staying calm.
Tim Have you really been a jazz musician or is that a rumour? And what is the connection to what you are doing nowadays?
Claudio (laughs) It is true. Jazz is structured and it is unstructured. For sure, what I do has reference in jazz or in other arts, in other complex arts. But I had a complex path, so I think it is the path that brings me to what I am doing now. It is not only jazz, but it is contemporary dance, text-theatre, circus. And also other normal jobs that I did. For example, working in a kitchen to help the cook. When I was living in Berlin, that was my night job. I also sold clothes, builded stages for concerts, unloaded vans. A lot of basic stuff.
Katharina And is that basic stuff giving you satisfaction?
Claudio No, not to me. But maybe for others, yes. It is a question of personality, I think.
You know, people like me like to control a team, beeing the chief. I bring the business.
No? It is a kind of personality that doesn't want to be controlled, but wants to control. I think if I was a chief of a kitchen, it could also be perfect for me. Because it can be creative. There is adrenaline - in the right restaurant -, and there is a moment when you have to speed things up, everything is perfect, there is a kind of aesthetics. Voila.
Katharina Why do you need adrenaline?
Claudio Ha. Who knows. (laughs)
Katharina How do you choose your performers? Do you tell them before you start that you are going to be the chief?
Claudio When I work with them, they can do whatever they want during the day. If they tell me, Claudio, I would like to rent a machine of five thousand Euros per day - I say, let's go. Let's find the money, let's go. Let's try this. I don't like to talk. I only like people who make things. If we start to talk, there is a problem. But of course the last word is mine. But they can do whatever they want. You know - it is a dictatorship in my company.
I work with very strong people, because they stay with me even if we don't get the results for two, three or four residencies.
They stay with me and they wait. I always say to them: Let's wait that something happens. Let's work, but we don't know what we have to discover. It is like a scientific research. You have a mission - a performance. But you have to push and research every day. And you want it to go here, but finally you go there. We work in the same way of a kind of university doctorate. But I am alone in the beginning, when I am in research the first months. To understand what I really want to do.
Tim How do you feel about the possible future changes for the performing - or let's say Live - arts?
Claudio I am afraid and I am embracing the change. I think this change in culture is necessary. I don't know if the change will be good or not. But we have been stuck in culture in this moment. Of course, we need more money, less money and so one. But in culture we are stuck. I am not talking about financial support; I am talking about art, about research on stage. I don't know what art will become.
We will make something new after this crisis, because maybe we are all changing now.
I am talking about this in art. And of course I am afraid, because I have a company, everything is very difficult concerning support. I have dancers that depend on me now, because they dedicated all their life to this performance. So I have to support them until the end.
And you know, I live on a boat, I can see incredible fishes. Impressive animals. I hope that we stay like this one more year. Because the world, the nature is going better. I am sorry, everybody will hate me. But the longer the thing is stuck, the better it is for nature:
I imagine Greta Thunberg as a very happy person in these times.
But what I can say, it is difficult. I am also confused in these times.
Claudio Stellato is, quite literally, a multidisciplinary artist. Initially trained as a jazz musician, he then worked as a dancer, a circus performer and finally as a choreographer, fascinated by visual arts, sculptures, and materials of all sorts. When it comes to his creations, Stellato takes his time, producing only a few selected shows that tour the whole world. Talking to us in the interview wearing his mask non-stop, we were really happy to at least hear his laughter loud and clearly.