© 2020 – 2021. 2chairs artspace

A talk with Jacalyn Carley
Dear Jacalyn, thank you for coming, please make yourself comfortable on our 2 chairs. Let's start with a short introduction, could you please explain, who is Jacalyn Carley? Are you dancer, choreographer, writer, artist? Who are you?

Some decades or even moments I am more one than the other, but my artistic life always circles back on itself. Dancing taught me about the female body while choreographing demanded improvisation and composition skills, writing was something that had to be done. Nearly all of my choreographies were set to avant-garde texts instead of music, like the dadaist Kurt Schwitters' "Sonate of primitive sounds". If there can be text in dance, why not in the visual arts? Why can't more arts be integrated? We all know that good drawing often depends upon a strong sense of rhythm. and so on. What is color harmony if not harmony?


Does it mean that you were done with dancing and have started a new chapter? Or even a new novel as an artist?

Dance is about life energy, about improvising with givens. It teaches infinite discipline and finite strength — these things inform all of my artistic practice. I stopped choreographing professionally long ago because it entails so much grant-seeking and has such high production needs that the actual artistic work was minimal. And then the show only ran a short time and it's gone! Although a good number of videos of my work exist in the International Theater Institute/MimeCentrumMediathek and in the Akademie der Künste Berlin archives, these have no life. Dance is here and gone, most ephemeral.


And what about writing? What language do you use in your artworks?

I was 'given' certain stories and other fantastic opportunities to write. I had stories that had to be told so I sat down and wrote them. Then came the opportunity to ghost write Royston Maldoom's autobiography, which drew upon my personal dance history and years of teaching experience and dovetailed with this fantastic person's life-journey. I'm so grateful for that opportunity, and also to have been able to write a book on his teaching methods. I only write in English, although the books exist only in German. Writing is hard enough, I can't worry about German grammar on top of that! Actually, I'm sorry about that.
Do you consider your artworks as a part of social engagement art? Since you are talking about hidden stories, do you mean any trauma?

Interesting question. When I say I'm working on women's hidden stories, yes, these stories are indeed about trauma inflicted upon women or even sometimes self-inflicted. If you've been abused or raped or seriously bullied or forced to do something against your deepest morals, then shame becomes a part of life. Shame demands hiding events and stories, it stakes a claim in a person, creates rooms where no trespassing is allowed. As I dig into incidents from long ago, it's clear how much my personae has been shaped by trauma and shame-mechanisms. Until now, regardless of the form, my ideas and my works maintained a good distance to my intimate self.

Incorporating personal material into my work makes me nervous. I want works on paper that stand on their own, that don't need explanation. The critic in me is never satisfied. Who wants agit prop or social realism these days?????? Not me! how to do this? Can there be a new type of social engagement? Nice question.

I love abstract art but it eludes me when I go to work. I want some meaning or even narrative to feel apparent, but not to be easy or direct. Beauty should be undercut, right? How to be quiet and to scream at the same time?

This much I know: I need form and structure, and simultaneously to exercise freedom. I struggle with every single thing I create, even a stupid sketch. With quietude, I can accept anger.
What do you think regarding your 2chairs position? Does it get rich your practice or dissipate the attention?

Lena, to start, thanks so much for this amazing opportunity to be your first guest artist. It means a lot to me. Your questions have made me think and that's amazing, the answers did not come lightly. Thanks for the discourse!


As an artist, do you have any career ambitions? Have you found your place on the Berlin Art Scene?

Now that I'm searching and researching, if you will, my own intimate material, I want to forget career ambition and to focus on work-to-work ambition. New for me. I want each piece to get closer to this goal of using personal material but staying on track with the product. Berlin? I've been here and a part of things for decades, it's an elusive but predictable city. Just keep moving and you'll find it. But in the end my family — husband and adult children — are my home. Their support is now so overwhelming that I'm so happy to be on this new way of working that you see in 2chairs. There's a time for working and a time for managing and a time for showing work. You have visited me mid-process and I thank you again.


If you were asked, would you repeat your path?

No. Yes. Well. Maybe this, but oh gosh not that. No. Actually, I always need something new.


How did you feel yourself during a pandemic? Do you see some crucial changes in the new post-quarantine world?

During the pandemic I asked myself what was the purpose of figure drawing, what is essential work? Does it mean time to stop and relax or to go deeper? Not an easy answer, as obvious as it might seem. Thanks to Berlin Art Institute and the use of the studio space, I spent every day in deep reflection, working alone, and was able to go further on a path initiated by a therapy that ended last year. I never thought I would be here, now, doing this work. The days were not long enough! so maybe the New Normal for me will be to look at rebudgeting my time. My Covid lesson is more dedicated time and patience, yet I see new and amazing things — like 2chairs!!! — happening and think YEAH YEAH YEAH, I love it! Nice vision.

Lena, you have found a great inspiration in the New Normal. Good luck!


Thank you, Jacalyn, for friendly conversation and your amazing artworks in 2chairs artspace. see you next time!