A performance art film based on the seminal essay 'How We Behave" by Michelle Foucault made together with the curator Grant Watson.

    Inspired by an interview with Michel Foucault published in Vanity Fair in 1983, entitled How We Behave, Watson’s long-term project focuses on the central question that Foucault posed in this interview – why can’t life be ‘the material for a work of art?’.

    Exploring how people shape their lives– at work, at home, with other people and with the world at large – interviewees reflect on their lives, their relationships to others and how they work on themselves. Subjects are often engaged with fluid, unconventional or experimental life patterns, working across the disciplines of art, theory, teaching and activism, and have been drawn from professional and friendship networks sometimes in collaboration with locally based organisations.

    The concern here is not with ‘lifestyle’ or the link between life and art, but with what Foucault considered to be an urgent question for our time – how people make their subjectivity and invent new ways of life and relations to others, as a form of resistance.

    Each interview has been carried out in the same way with a group of three interviewers, a stenographer and the interviewee. A series of questions concerning details of the subject’s life produced observations on behaviors and habits, exercises and techniques, emotional processes, economic circumstance, ethical dilemmas, politics and poetics.

    Each interview was transcribed and edited before a selection of transcriptions was made and developed further in collaboration with interviewees and pared down to shorter texts. These texts were then used as the basis for a second filmed interview in which participants were asked to revisit the first interview in a part-scripted, part-improvised presentation for the camera.

    Fifty interviews will be made across the the world, to result in a series of short films that will join this ever-growing archive of ‘life practice’ and reflection on contemporary subjectivity.

How We Behave

Directed by Grant Watson