Olivia Fauland and Lucas Wilson-Bilbro are two artists with very different artistic backgrounds who also happen to be in a relationship. Together they started the dance company Sapiens Sapiens, and their piece for Shooting Gallery combines sculpture, sound art and various “non-dancerly” movement practices including meditation poses , warm up exercises, trust falls, contact improv, and jiu jitsu.
Olivia graduated from Emily Carr University in 2014, focusing on sound art and immersive installation near the end of her time there. The contact microphones used in the piece were developed by Olivia while she was at Emily Carr, and she is reworking the technology for Shooting Gallery. After graduation, she took a concerted step back from the “party scene” art world and began her career at the Portland Hotel Society. Sapiens Sapiens marks her return to making things, this time in a different context.
Lucas has trained in classical ballet for his whole life, and eventually moved into the contemporary dance world upon moving to Vancouver in 2015. He studied in the post-grad programme at Arts Umbrella before being asked to apprentice with Ballet BC, and even appeared in Centre Stage 3. He now freelances in Vancouver, working mostly in the contemporary dance scene, and trains in parkour and acrobatics.
Sapiens Sapiens includes a rotating roster of artists and was born out of a desire for more experimentation and play, and a feeling of dissatisfaction for Lucas with the work that was being produced in the contemporary dance and ballet scenes. The two artists have similar tastes and trust each other implicitly, which for an artist like Olivia who usually works alone, are very important components to a fruitful collaboration. Coming from such different backgrounds, both artists feel a sense of freedom working in a new space, with each of them bringing something different to the projects. “For me, the dance world, especially with language, is kind of like a freedom because I’m so new to it…to me it’s kind of fun to play with what a dance company could mean” says Olivia. Sapiens Sapiens is aiming to blur the lines between “dance” and “art”, and their piece for Shooting Gallery incorporates sculptural tiles fitted with contact microphones, and the types of movement available to them will be largely dictated by these complex surfaces.
Their relationship dynamic plays a large role in the piece as well. “We like this idea of baggage and history and our entire history with each other, artistic or otherwise, is part of it and we allow it to be a part of it, even if we aren’t necessarily making it about that” says Lucas. Their working relationship is predicated on a deep trust with one another, and each of them has various techniques they use to help one another when they begin to spiral into anxiety and self-doubt, as most artists do.
Olivia and Lucas are influenced by Michael Schumacher and others in the live improvised dance world, and are interested in smelling the room and letting their senses dictate their movements. Lucas says “it’s about just being in a space and experiencing it and how if you are cued in very sensorially, it helps you keep your brain straight in a very sensitive place as opposed to a performative ‘oh my god’ place…it’s about a situation, it’s about you experiencing something, it’s not about you doing the moves”. They are interested in the natural improvised and unconscious methods of movement that we engage in, and Olivia has recently become obsessed with YouTube videos of mosh pits; “I had thought about this thrashing movement, and letting things be the echo of that” says Olivia.
Olivia and Lucas also have an Instagram page called @gooptubes that documents the intimate moments of their life together with various film cameras. The resulting images are beautifully shot and the love between them is palpable, with each of them being their most beautiful when viewed through the others eyes.
Sapiens Sapiens will be debuting their new piece at Left of Main on March 28, 29 and 30.