Genevieve Farbe is a playwright, director, mask maker, farmer, environmentalist, guitarist, zine writer, and senior at University of the Arts (UArts). Her performances flow from life experience and steep in her brain-space before emerging as challenging and boundary-pushing works. Genevieve expects a lot to get done in the last week of HPI, and will come out flying in her final show piece.
So we are two weeks away from the final show.
Good God! I’m not ready.
At the beginning of the semester I was asking people to describe their experience at HPI up to this point, but now it’s been so long! So maybe can you talk about milestones up to this point?
I feel like the whole first month was just a blur. I don’t really remember what happened. I just remember being really sleepy and really excited by everyone. I wanted to get to know everyone. And I was curious about how we were all going to fit together as a group, for sure. So I started making work and I think I had a very different idea of what my process was going into this, I guess I had never really thought of the fact that I do best when I have a lot of marinating time and then I like do the thing really quick. Yea. I’ve done that a couple times.
The raspberry piece was cool because it was like... my whole thing I feel like is about living my life how ever I want to live my life and not thinking about art and the art part kind of just happens because I can’t help it. I don’t like forcing myself to make art or thinking about art too much because my best work comes from my real life situations where I’m talking to people about climate change or I’m really depressed and painting my face with raspberries because it makes my roommate laugh. You know what I mean? It happens out of my real life and then from that I’m like “Oh, maybe I can, maybe I have something to say about this or maybe this is talking about a bigger thing.” When I did the raspberry thing I was watching a bunch of makeup tutorials at that time, and when I did it for my roommate I was talking about how I was just locked in my room watching youtube the whole time because I was so sad, and then! Out of it came this whole commentary on natural beauty and Youtube and makeup tutorials and consumerism and all of these things I had been thinking about anyway. But I don’t think I would have come to the conclusion had I sat down and tried to make a piece. I want my art to be my living, I want to live my art every day, and just not think about it too much.
So that was a big part of it for sure, figuring that out. And then, I feel like I had this lull in the middle, and it was in some ways frustrating for me because I wanted to get myself out of this lull, and I felt like I wanted someone to kind of kick me in the ass, and be like “You need to do something right now, because you’re just not doing anything.” And that didn't really happen. And I kind of got myself out of it, I think, because now I’m making stuff again. But I would attribute my coming out of that place to our community as students. I believe we have a really really strong super supportive community and we understand each other pretty well as people. And I find a lot of support in all of you.
And now I’m just doing too many things! But I’m happy about it, it’s a good thing I’m doing too many things. But it’s a lot. And I’m also working mostly in solo work, which is surprising to me, I didn’t think I would be doing that. I always liked performance art in solo work, but I didn’t think I would do it.
Do you think all those things, the solo work, marinating in your process, are those appearing now in the semester, or are they things you knew about before?
I think I’ve always done them, my dad’s the same way! I didn’t realize that until very recently, it’s kinda sweet. But, I think I always did it, and it’s only, like Headlong does body scans all the time and they’re like “Where is your body hurting, what are you feeling?” and I was like “Oh no I have back problems!” and they were like “What is your process, what’s going on?” and I was like “Oh my god here’s my process.” It’s just being asked the question, even if you think it’s a dumb question, which sometimes I do! Sometimes they’ll be like “What’s a community?” And I’m like everyone knows what a community is, we don't have to talk about this, it’s stupid, and then, we talk about it and we all have very different opinions and I’m like “Oh my god I had no idea that we all had really different opinions on this seemingly simple subject.”
How do you think that being at HPI is in conversation or fitting into with your UArts life?
I think I’ve learned a lot from small moments, and I’ve learned because I’ve been forced to practice, and I learn best in practice, not necessarily classroom settings, which is helpful because HPI is kind of not always a classroom setting. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not though! And, ya, I think that I appreciate the fact that there’s been so much space given for us to make work, and learn through doing. I feel that that’s mostly been independent, but I definitely believe that we wouldn’t have jumped in if they had packed us every single hour of every day with stuff. In some ways the space is really frustrating because you’re like what am I supposed to do with all this time, I’m just sitting here. But in other ways, it’s very illuminating. Because it’s like taking you out of your home where your habits are kind of imperceivable because you’re always living them. And putting you into a new environment and say “Great now look at your habits in this new environment, and then look at how you make your work.” Instead of spending six hours at my house sitting around, I’m suddenly spending six hours at Headlong sitting around, but that suddenly makes it, I’m like “Oh wow this is how I spend my time.” This is my tendency.
I think I also discredit the amount of research that I do… for me watching Youtube videos and everything, it’s living my art. It’s practicing "personal practice"! Cannot preach how much I love personal practice, like it’s great, I think it’s so important. It’s validating to know all of my really dumb interests might be useful at some point. Like watching too many Youtube videos and I don’t even wear makeup, but I love watching those dumb videos. They’re so funny and strange, it’s like a social experiment. And I watch videos on space all the time, and I think I need to trust that in some way those things will make it back around.
What are you curious about unfolding in the smidge of time we have left here?
I’m curious about how much work I can get done, and knowing about my spurting, my spurts of creativity and movement, how I can arrange that to get done all the things I need to get done in the amount of time I have.
You have so many fun facts and hobbies and things you’re interested in, including watching YouTube videos. Is there one thing you’d like to put out there as a curious interest of yours?
I have so many curious interests. Well, I’m really into farming, that’s a basic one about me. I’m super into sustainable agriculture and the future of food. I find that I collect really strange facts about things, specifically nature facts I have a real affinity for. And I just collect them in my brain as useless knowledge until all of a sudden I’m like “I know this fact! Now I can use it.” I also drop my pen six times a day, maybe that’s a hobby.