Who is Sarah Boulton? How did you arrive at your world as it is now?
Sarah Boulton is an artist. It sounds like an artist’s statement. Occasional encounters with artworks, songs, phenomena and world events have acted like crystals that have made me surrender over and over again to the slow life of making artworks. I rely on their glow, however tiny or slight. So yes, that’s what I do in a forever sense. I do most things on a whim. I love to manage and adjust to how things turn out. I left London a while ago to reassess why I was not making any money or any artwork that was not blinded by Instagram or what I thought Art wanted me to make. My world in Wales now is very felt. For example, winter is heavy and you are simply working for warmth in a short space of time during the day. It is not romantic, although I do love romance. Time is spent a certain way. I like working on my art in the gaps between time spent doing things, so it suits me well.
What is your most vivid childhood memory?
Our dad had an Omega car and I remember so strongly the word omega. I remember feeling the word while sitting on my bike staring through the weirdly intricate cage of the school’s playground, which we were trespassing in during summer holidays in order to learn to ride. I remember being blurry in my eyes and just thinking about the word omega. It must have been when I first learned to spell.
What was your first word?
How did poetry enter your life?
Incidentally. I wrote down all of the artworks I made that I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) show as images. They are actions really. And people said they liked the words. It’s only thanks to the artworks of course; the words would be nothing without them.
How do words fall out of your inner vocabulary? And what do they encounter on the outside?
My inner vocabulary is entirely visual and never makes sense in terms of time. I really need to make more films. Anyway, my inner vocabulary quite often occurs in a small-time slot where many things happen across several places. Words fall out of this place and give thanks to the ability to describe things in multiple different tenses.
What is your favourite word?
Omega, jade, door, maximum. Quite smooth and round ones. I don’t really have a favourite word because I don’t really focus on the words in language, instead how they look behind the surface you read them on.
How compatible is poetry with performance? Do you follow specific instructions or methodologies in order to stage and communicate your experiences through various mediums?
It’s a very good question. It is so compatible! I think it is a shame that people assume poets will do a poetry reading when asked to communicate their work. I think words should be entered into space much more carefully and beautifully. Words can be used in an artwork that does not call itself a poem but can involve an aspect of performance or, let’s say ‘event’, that feels entirely like a poem in its own right. This is the relationship between poetry and performance. They can allow each other to continue and transcend after they are written or performed. For instance, you can describe a performance with incredible poetry, if the performance allows for it. More poets should use performance to describe their poetry, rather than just read it out loud. And yes, I have specific methodologies in order to communicate my experiences. I am slowly working on a kind of bible of these specifics. Mostly it involves the environment around the words or the works. Sometimes it is around the audience, like the type of light or time of day, and sometimes it is in or on me, like the time I swallowed a pearl without anyone seeing and had to find a way of articulating it through words. Knowing the pearl was in me was a very magical experience and it helped shape the way I said the words, the way I acted, I think.
How do you articulate the passage of time?
Two ways. One, via the use of surprise. And the other by making something that is extremely still. I often think of a piece by Jayne Parker. It is called ‘All the knives in my house’. Several knives are in a box that is photographed from above, flattened into an image and ready for a wall, as if out of reach. The piece makes me think of the time around the boxing up of the knives, and of course the emotions that live in that time, both before and after. It is an event that is still and it gives off time like an aroma.
How do you experience the locus of your thinking? And how do you frame the territory in which your writing operates?
I experience the locus very, very clearly. I do not yet know the territory that it operates in. I think I am always thinking about that. I like it best when the words seem to perform. A great artist and friend, Evita Vasiljeva told me recently that she heard a lady ask her child: do you know what choreography means, to which the child replied, it is when you have a thought and later you move this thought. This is the territory that feels close to how I operate in. It is ambient.
How would you translate into words something that occurs with a strong sense of sometimes?
The water in a wave that gets to be at the front of an ocean.
How do you look at things?
That is my question!
What would you see without eyelids?
Would the dark still remain the dark?
What words, sounds, objects or creatures appear most often in your dreams?
Single figures and hills, staircases and very large, long, thin bedrooms. I am always an observer.
What goes on inside mirrors?
What rhymes with silence?
What do you know about absence?
What’s the first line of the last text you wrote?
‘There were three boys crossing the road’.
What is inspiring you right now, and how do you emulate it through your current work?
Oh, Louise Lawler’s work! She is brilliant. Particularly the way she invited people to attend the New York Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake. She made invitations. It was not hers to invite people to but it became hers: Swan Lake by Louise Lawler. There should be a swan lake by everybody. On YouTube there almost is now. She was 25 years ahead of time with that. Because I live in Wales and most of my friends who are artists are elsewhere, I have ongoing and written conversations with very influential people. These inspire me of course but they also inspire me to consider distance in my work. I am thinking a lot lately about the experience of looking at rows of trees with even gaps like breaths between them from far away. One friend told me that the story I told her about it gave her goosebumps and so I may try to fit goosebumps into the work eventually, since it already has breaths in it – these things seem connected. It is becoming Spring, and the way the fields change colour is very powerful. It reminds me to transform things subtly.
If your life would be a poem, how would you write it and what would you name it?
It would probably be contradiction about wanting something to last and wanting something to be temporary. I have no idea about the name.
And now a question from Éric Poindron’s Weird Questionnaire: What does fog make you think of?
Haha, my good friend, Ulijona Odišarija. She is an artist. Uses fog emotionally, and as a situation.
Can you recommend us:
A book: Confabulations by John Berger. I love so many books so fleetingly.
A song: Karen Ramirez, Looking For Love. Reminds me of my mother singing it on the way to school, always a little bit too slow but in perfect pitch.
A film: I am terrible with film films, but I love Tacita Dean’s ‘Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS’, although I’ve never seen it. I love the idea of it.
A poem: One or all from Zbigniew Herbert’s prose poetry. They are incredible. Surprises wrapped up in treasure, novels in the space of two lines. Total fantasy and yet plain talking.