As part of his research for Performance in Residence, curator Grant Watson conducts a series of interviews for the project How We Behave in São Paulo, together with Frédérique Bergholtz and Veridiana Zurita. The interviews are structured around a mode of gathering material from invited guests and São Paulo residents from different generations, by asking them straightforward questions about their life. Through exercises and questions that focus on certain activities from a person’s life, an attempt is made to interpolate some of the particular character and personalities of the city.
A presentation of the project takes place on the 17th of November as part of Suely Rolnik's Nucleus for Subjectivity class at the University of São Paulo.
How We Behave departs from an interview of the same name with Michel Foucault, which appeared in Vanity Fair in 1983. In the interview Foucault talks about living life as a work of art, which we interpret to mean making an art of your life in practical as well as philosophical ways. Foucault also talks about this subject in relation to the gay liberation movement and the fact that people with few pre-given social structures or codes of behaviour have had to invent a life for themselves both individually as well as collectively.
Foucault commented: “What strikes me is the fact that in our society art has become something which is related only to objects and not individuals, or to life. That art is something specialized or done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object but not the life?” Elsewhere Foucault expresses his fascination with the idea that bios itself could become the material from which a work of art is made, and identifies a precedent for this in antiquity. By using classical texts, Foucault is not suggesting that people repeat the practices of the past, but rather that they try to invent new forms of subjectivity which might start from aesthetics.
Interview sessions took place so far in New York City in May 2012, with a public presentation at The Kitchen on the 8th of May.