Five Questions for Alexandro Segade
Name: Alexandro Segade
Title/Occupation: artist, performer, director, teacher
Organization/Company: My Barbarian (performance collective); Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (performance workshop)
URL: alexandrosegade.wordpress.com; performanceartworld.wordpress.com; mybarbarian.com
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in San Diego, California, and I moved to Los Angeles at eighteen to go to school. I stayed in LA because I fell in love here, but I don’t know if I would stick around if I didn’t get to travel a lot. LA is a great place to come home to. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s the best place to live.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
I am a promiscuous artist, and different projects are born from love affairs with a bevy of beautiful influences. For the piece at REDCAT, Replicant VS Separatist, I was influenced foremost by Octavia Butler’s fiction, most of which is set in Los Angeles, as well as classic sci-fi movies set in LA, like Bladerunner, which I love, and Terminator, which I hate. I am also a fan of more esoteric cult movies like “Breaking Glass,” “Jubilee,” “Shock Treatment,” and “The Apple,” all movies from the 1970’s-1980s in which the corporate world is an evil empire that controls people through popular media and new wave music. Movies about making movies, particularly Fassbinder’s “Beware a Holy Whore,” also figured into it. I was interested in what happens when you frame a fiction with a crew, and show the audience the process of making of a fake world that expresses a reality. In this case, the position of gay men in society was something I wanted to talk about by using an allegory (clones vs mutants) for an internal debate around gay marriage, asking, “Do we want to be art of society, or do we want to remake it?” It may be impossible to chose, so the same actors play both sides. Musically, I was collaborating with Scott Martin, and we were imagining those great 1980s electronic scores by composers like Vangelis and Tangerine Dream, set against outdated pop music, particularly boybands from the 90s, like N’Synch, Backstreet Boys, and Boyzone.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
That is a hard question for a renaissance man! It’s also difficult to admit to myself that there are some things I simply can’t (and never will) do. I wish I could play an instrument: piano or guitar to accompany myself or others. I also wish I had a superpower, like telekinesis or time travel, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve started imagining that the ability to speak any language on earth would be the truest and most awesome of mutant abilities.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
A normal day involves emailing with institutions and collaborators, applying for grants, sending out packages of DVDs and PDFs of past projects, meeting with people, going to rehearsal, installing a work, teaching a class, or getting on a plane, or off one, and feeling guilty that I didn’t edit that video I was thinking I should, or feeling panicked that I forgot to do something else and that maybe tomorrow it will all fall apart, and the emails will cease, and no one will remember me when I die. In between that is a lot of talking, mostly to my boyfriend, sometimes to my cat. Then I watch something weird on Netflix or Hulu as I fall asleep…
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
I chose art, and art is work, if you conceive of it that way, with all the responsibilities and problems that work always contains. I had a full time job as a graphic designer at a big internet company after college, and I liked it, but at a certain point, what I did after hours, as an artist, became what I was doing at my desk, and I started getting in trouble with my bosses and feeling angry with myself for not trusting the art, or the audience that was connecting to it, enough to dedicate my whole life to this practice. So I quit. Focusing all my time and energy on art lead me to realize I needed more training. I got into UCLA’s Interdisciplinary Studio Program. I worked professionally in the field at the same time I was studying with artists such as Mary Kelly, Cathie Opie, Stanya Khan and Andrea Fraser, and during that incredibly productive time I began to really understand what it means to use your voice. Now I teach and make art and I don’t miss the corporate oppressor, or his money, at all.
Alexandro Segade will be appearing in Week Three (AUG 5-7) of REDCAT’s New Original Works (NOW) Festival. For more information click here.