In exploring the nuances of idiorrhythmic living formats, Senstad invites acclaimed actor Bill Sage to reinterpret Roland Barthes pedagogical methods and critical worldview from five decades ago in the context of our contemporary experience in a changing world. Produced during the 2020 pandemic, the performative reading in film format was achieved by remote collaborations between artist Anne Katrine Senstad, actor Bill Sage, and composer/sound producer JG Thirlwell with sound management. By jointly reshaping and exploring new systems for expression and cultural production, the artists simultaneously respond to the current human experience of isolation, societal and political deconstruction through the absorption of Barthes structural novelistic lectures and internal dialogue on idiorrhythmic living, and ways of understanding community and individuality, spaces, and rhythms of life for our possible futures.
In his chapter on a utopia of idiorrhythmic Living-Together, Barthes considers our “Sovereign Good” a form of tactful cohabitation and an inner state – the state of tolerance is considered a place of utopia. Sage creates a rich texture of spirit and authenticity, embodying the internal conversation and experience of the human enterprise transmitted through the character he created for the piece – a navigational journey through a meditative analysis as understanding our sense of place.
The title of Senstad’s exhibition, How We Live Together determines an action in how we want to shape our common future. Senstad reauthors Barthes 1977 university lectures titled How To Live Together, which present a passive set of contemplative possibilities organized after literary and fantasmatic methods – the academic observational criteria. In activating the title through an actor’s voice and delivery, Sage transmits the experience and embodiment of our inner dialogue and relation to the self. In the postmodern society that evolved after Barthes social philosophies, the disenfranchisement of societal and spiritual value has escalated to the critical crescendo we are now living with, globally manifested in illness of the human soul and body, isolation, displacement and quarantined living. Another French philosopher, Baurdillard spoke about a societal simulacra and the postmodern living mode that removed the individual from any form of natural self and common value system. With popular culture emplifying this loss of human spirit, Baurdillard examined how the film American Psycho is the epitome of the postmodern human. In the iconic business card scene, an assembly of wall street men including Bill Sage’s character identify their sole value represented in a symbol of patriarchy, capitalism, spectacle and expendable identities.
Text: Excerpt from book How To Live Together by Roland Barthes
Session of May 4, 1977 – Utopie/Utopia
Bill Sage has appeared in over 40 films, stage and TV productions. Films include American Psycho, Boiler Room, I Shot Andy Warhol, The Insider and TV series include Law & Order, Boardwalk Empire and more. Sage is currently working with long time collaborator, indie film director Hal Hartley, on a new production entitled Where to Land, alongside Edie Falco and Parker Posey.