Steve Paxton

1 Story


Dynamics of trust

SL1 copy

My first time going to an art fair really freaked me out. I thought, “Oh, my God, this is awful!” I usually don’t like going to those kinds of things. I spend a lot of time in the field making work with people. It’s a different world.


I’m trying to do these farm workshops—which vary from year to year— with a group of girls until they turn 18 and leave home. I’m not making art there. It’s really for the girls. I’m looking for funding, but it’s difficult. It’s outside of the art world. What I do on the farm is not the work that people see.


Since 2012, I’ve been working in Poland quite a bit with a girl—her name is Milena—whom I met in 2009 while I was making a film there. Since then, I’ve been going back and creating more work with her. I spent the last two summers in Poland with Milena and a group of girls that she lives with. The work has extended to her community. Last year we did critical thinking workshops on a farm outside Warsaw. This summer we’re doing another series of workshops that are based on body movement, influenced by Steve Paxton. I’m so inspired by other artists. There’s something infectious about it that I bring to the people I work with. They get excited about it, too.


My work usually takes a long time to make. The relationships that I form with the subjects in my work last for life. It’s not about going in and shooting a film or a photograph and leaving. I’m still involved with most of the people I work with. I don’t just go into a place with a camera. I’m usually there for a long time before I even pick up a camera. Sometimes I go two years without making a photograph. It takes a long time.


I don’t operate the camera, so I spend a lot of time organizing. It’s very much a collaboration—working together, behind and in front of the camera. It’s about listening to people, being open, and having time for them. You’re not listening if there’s a hierarchy. We teach the girls how to ask questions and think abstractly. Kids don’t have much time these days. It seems like their time is over-regulated, especially if you’re within a state system. I think it’s rare for kids to have someone who will spend a lot of time with them. I always feel like trust has to be there from the beginning.


There’s a quote I love by Janusz Korczak. He said, “Love the child, not just your own.” I think that’s so beautiful. It’s so basic. We all need to think not just about ourselves. We need to think about the world. We need to care about one another. Simple things like children’s rights. I think it was 1954 when the UN passed children’s rights. I talk a lot about children’s rights and what children’s rights are. A lot of kids don’t realize they have rights. Someone asked me recently—if I could change anything, what would it be? I said that the rich shouldn’t be rich and the poor shouldn’t be poor. It’s the same idea as “Love the child, not just your own.” These are such basic concepts, but sadly, the world we live in today doesn’t reflect them.


Artwork: Sharon Lockhart
Untitled, 2015

16 mm color/sound film transferred to HD
Duration: 3 minutes, 28 seconds
Copyright Sharon Lockhart, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery New York and Brussels