(from Bomb magazine, 9/23.)
Artists and performance-makers Lars Jan and Geoff Sobelle met in Philadelphia in the early 2000s, and lived together in a 5,000 square foot loft in a part of North Philly called the “Badlands.” They had no heating, but they did have a swing, baby carriage versus wheelchair races, ample rehearsal space, and a pet rabbit named Steve who had a pen larger than most New York City apartments.
Jan and Sobelle have collaborated off and on since, and are currently collaborating on HOLOSCENES, which will premier at the Toronto Nuit Blanche Festival in October.
Both coincidentally also have shows in this fall’s BAM Next Wave Festival—Jan’s ABACUS (a TED and megachurch-influenced presentation about contemporary persuasion and national borders) is on September 24 and Sobelle’s The Object Lesson (a solo performance/installation that revolves on our relationship to everyday objects) will be on November 5—8. Both will be at the BAM Fisher.
Jan and Sobelle met up at Café des Artistes, where My Dinner with Andre was filmed in 1981. Sobelle is having Ile Flottante, Jan has ordered a pizza from a nearby restaurant and is hoping it will be delivered during the dessert course. This may or may not have happened. “Choose your own reality," says the panda to the rabbit …
Geoff Sobelle One of our longest conversations revolved around a piece that at some point became called Psychocosmonautics and I think laid some ground work—or maybe just served as a means of expressing—some themes that have continued in your work—aquariums, Japan, matters of the mind and altered states of consciousness, work, pleasure, travel, and talking. When I think of you, I think a lot of those days—I think that I was really there as a kind of facilitator—I was your actor, but I was there to help you somehow articulate these things that you were grappling with—we hauled massive flat-screened televisions around and we talked endlessly while eating the Master's Pizza at Di Fara on Avenue J. In those days, you kept coming back to My Dinner with Andre. And in that paradigm, I was the Wally Shawn and you were the Andre Gregory, and I was along for a wild ride that took us from dolphin brains to Laika the space dog to Japanese Aquariums. Here, conversation was like white water rafting.