The fourth series of interviews for the project How We Behave of curator Grant Watson takes place in Los Angeles and San Francisco in February 2013. Together with Frédérique Bergholtz Watson carries out interview sessions that are structured around a mode of gathering material from invited guests and California residents from different generations. His project takes place in the frame of If I Can't Dance's Performance in Residence programme. The Los Angeles interviews follow a workshop at the Roski School of Fine Arts (UCLA) and are accompanied by artist MPA.
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.
At the time of the Vanity Fair interview, Foucault had been lecturing at the University of California in Berkeley as visiting professor at regular intervals since 1975. Here he first met with Hubert Dreyfus and Leo Bersani, who would become leading Foucault scholars in later years. Foucault was also known to immerse himself in the gay leather scene and frequent the bath houses of San Francisco.
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; in São Paulo in November 2012, with a presentation in the Nucleus for Subjectivity class of Suely Rolnik at the University of São Paulo; and in Amsterdam in January 2013 with a presentation at the Appropriation and Dedication seminar of If I Can't Dance.