How can I

a portrait

Bill T. Jones

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When asked to write a portrait of Bill T. Jones for the Holland Festival, I wondered: how can I create a virtual portrait of someone’s oeuvre so extensively complex, and so many times articulated, in such a short period of time? 

The sense of loneliness and grief that we are all differently and globally experiencing in this dystopian spring confirmed that when we ask ourselves the primordial question how can I? we are longingly thinking ourselves in conversation with others, who inspire us, guide us, drive us mad, keep us company. The living and the dead. Allies gather so we can keep thinking, creating, being enraged, mourning, hoping, being moved and moving forward. 

Another Conversation, as conversation is the dynamic modus operandi in which Jones has fully engaged with the world from the very beginning of his career. One could substitute in this case conversation with choreographic action, as in each exchange - serendipitous, and planned as in Bill Chats, from new works to curatorial visioning - Jones is relentlessly questioning and challenging himself and his interlocutors. There is always an adventurous movement from point a to point new. 

Jean-Luc Nancy writes: 'a portrait is suspended between two extremes: on one hand, it tends toward likeness, and on the other, toward strangeness. On the one hand, it identifies, and on the other, it distances. The first side is that of proximity, recognition, description, and illusion; the second is that of distance, questioning, suggestiveness, and encounter. One could say that presence is the shared border of those two extremes.'

This is an attempt to capture in broad strokes a representative image of a figure always on the move. Ultimately his work will articulate and be that presence. 

An associative portrait, documented, open-ended, filled with gaps and expectations. I had you in mind, you who might never have stumbled into a theater where the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company performed. And you, very familiar with the work of the company, nostalgically asking: Do you remember? A sketchbook for all of us, while we await our return in the theater magic to dream together.  Something to hold tight until we meet again. 

Until then!