Making An Effort To Be Present

Source: Viggo-Works

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Viggo-Works: You have had a very, very busy couple of years in 2007 and 2008. What are you doing to relax and unwind in 2009 (besides cheering for San Lorenzo, the Habs, and ALL those New York teams)?

Viggo: I have a lot of work to catch up on with Perceval Press commitments, and will be spending a fair amount of time this year preparing several books for publication. Have also been able to reestablish contact with many friends and family members I had not seen or been able to communicate consistently with over the last 2 years. I suppose the best thing is getting rid of deadlines in large part, at least for a little while. This means reading books and doing a little writing, seeing exhibitions, etc. without rushing through it all. The movie business continues to demand a certain amount of time and effort in terms of promotional responsibilities, with "Good" still to come out in Australasia and England, among other places, and with "The Road" also due out this year. Although I seem to have stepped away from the movie business, it is still in front of me and expecting my participation for some time to come.

Viggo-Works: What are three things you would like to accomplish in 2009?

Viggo: There are many more than three, but perhaps the most important one is to stop trying to accomplish things - just making an effort to be present, rather, and moving from day to day without too many plans or goals. It is the only way I think I will be able to find the peace and quiet needed to work and live in a more healthy way.

Viggo-Works: By all accounts, it looks like you will be doing a play in Spain this year. What brought you to this project? Will you take it on the road? Do you have an idea which cities might be on the short list?

Viggo: We are meant to perform the Ariel Dorfman play "Purgatorio", no version of which has ever been presented in Spanish before, in Madrid in the autumn. I had asked Ariel if he had a version in Spanish, and he said he did and would like to see it performed. Ariadna Gil, the actress Ariel offered the female role to, made contact with a director she had worked with previously in the theatre, and also suggested a very good venue in Spain where we might attempt to put the play on. If that comes to pass, and if it seems to go well, we may go elsewhere with it, although we are not yet sure where that might be. Could be another stop in Spain or even to the Americas. Time will tell. Ariel had suggested the possibility of my participating in the English language version of the play previously, which is also a possibility in the future. Again, time will tell.

Viggo-Works: You have done such a variety of roles in film in the past 2-3 years. What would a screenwriter/producer/director have to come at you with, at this point, for you to say 'yes' to another film project?

Viggo: No idea. Try not to have pre-conceived ideas about projects or directors in terms of any "wish list". I simply try to bring whatever I might know and, especially, be able to learn to whatever job that might be offered and feels appropriate to take on.

Viggo-Works: Which of your past movie characters do you hold dearest to your heart and why?

Viggo: I do not really have clear favourites, as I have some good memories of learning new things and of making friends from each experience, however well or poorly the story eventually presented turned out.

Viggo-Works: What is happening at Perceval Press this year? Will you be publishing a new book of your own work in 2009? How about any CDs in 2009? What other projects are in the works at Perceval that we could possibly see this year?

Viggo: There are many projects in various states of completion. The ones closest to being ready for release are a poetry collection by Scott Wannberg named "Strange Movie Full Of Death", an anthology of newer Argentine poetry, a memorial book about a remarkable mustang herd stallion named "Twelve" by Michael Blake, a conceptual geopolitical artistic statement by Dan Mills called "U.S. Future States Atlas", a poetry collection by Argentine poet Talo Kejner, and a collection of my own poetry in Spanish titled "Canciones De Invierno". I have already recorded many of the poems for "Canciones De Invierno", and am trying to decide at this time if the resulting CD ought to go in a sleeve in the book or be presented before-hand as an abbreviated fore-runner to the book.

Viggo-Works: You have successfully taken on the role of editor of your own books as well as other artists' books published at Perceval Press. How do you approach the editing of other artists' work as opposed to editing your own? Which do you find the more challenging? What are the pitfalls to editing in general?

Viggo: I try to take the same approach to all the projects, including my own, discarding whatever is not needed and trying to contribute to their having a particular and appropriate flow and design. I believe that I have been able to gradually learn to be as ruthless with my own words and images as I try to be with others in pruning to achieve the right balance for each publication. Some books that come to us are in fairly completed states, and do not need quite as much input from me as others do. The main pitfall I have found as an editor is the potential for becoming too sentimental, too subjectively loyal to any given project or author.

Viggo-Works: Are you currently writing? What?

Viggo: Still writing new poems and re-writing existing ones for "Canciones De Invierno".

Viggo-Works: You have said that you are currently writing much of your creative work in Spanish. There is a centuries-long tradition of translation within the poetry community, and you've translated other poets' works yourself for some of your books and exhibitions. Do you intend to translate any of your own Spanish-language work for a wider readership? How do you feel about other people translating your work?

Viggo: I may translate the "Canciones De Invierno" poems into English in order to present a bilingual book. This will slightly delay publication. I have been sent some decent translations done by others, and some that understandably missed nuances or double-entendres. The translations I have seen into languages other than English, Spanish, or French I am not really able to judge very well, if at all. It seems to be a very subjective art, translation, really more of a re-writing or re-creating task.

Viggo-Works: What are the best books that you read in 2008? Why? Which books are you reading now?

Viggo: Have read several interesting ones, including a lot of French and Spanish poetry collections. Scheer's "The Pornography Of Power" was eye-opening and helpful, as were Gellman's "Angler", the Samuel Beckett compilation titled "I Can't Go On, I'll Go On", and the Jacob Riis biography titled "Den ideelle Amerikaner" by Tom Buk-Swienty. Right now I am re-reading Euripides' "Medea" in Spanish, as it is partly the foundation for Ariel Dorfman's "Purgatorio", as well as Tzvetan Todorov's "Les Abus De La Memoire" and Gonzalo Suárez' "El Secreto Del Cristal".

Viggo-Works: Do you have any possible exhibits in the works for 2009?

Viggo: No. Don't want the pressure of that right now. Was very pleased with the way the Reykjavik and Roskilde shows turned out last year, and with the amount and variety of people that managed to see them. That was encouraging.

Viggo-Works: You list "doubt" as one of your principal motivations. How far do you allow your doubts to go? Just a nag here and a nag there, or an acute judgment over everything you do? Is doubt a welcomed guest in your life or a constant reproachful companion?

Viggo: It is a constant, but worthwhile battle to try and make the most of doubts and not be overwhelmed by them.

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Viggo-Works: Finally...just for fun. Who would win the fight? Aragorn or Diego? Why?

Viggo: No idea. I suspect they would become friends in the end, and not fight. Then again, if Diego had been drinking...

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Last edited: 5 February 2009 15:06:20
© Viggo-Works Used by permission. Images © Perceval Press/Good Films/Dimension Films/Nick Hern Books/New Line/20th Century Fox Espana.