L’école Buissonnière by Will Atkins X The Skin Project
L’école Buissonnière is a suspension collaboration between butoh artist Will Atkins x The Skin Project, captured by Sam Waxman. The title translates from a French phrase meaning to play hooky from school or work, a literal “school in the bush.” Inspired by the feeling of returning to what the natural world can teach us, the suspended subject is reimagined to have been pulled from the earth into the air. This piece was conjured out the romantic notion of returning to nature as a symbolic and emotional rebirth.
“This past year I began a new romantic relationship, my first in a while. Over time it began to feel like I was re-experiencing many emotions again, seemingly for the first time. Romance, love, strife, jealousy, sadness, joy, sex, and more- all of these feelings felt new, or when I contemplated on them more deeply, it was maybe experiencing them as a more mature human being. I had put my romantic life on the back burner for a number of years, mostly out of my own insecurities. It was as if this new renewal of feelings were holding up a mirror to how I felt I was, where I am now, and how I want to present myself. With the added circumstance of the pandemic and lockdown, it felt like there was only so much I could do to explore this awakening. During the spring I kept going back to a phrase I had learned when I visited France when I was younger- “faire l’ecole buissonnière,” meaning to play hooky from school. How it was explained to me at the time was ” a school of escape into nature,” which always stayed with me as a romantic notion. This meditation on the phrase kept giving me an image of getting pulled out of the ground and into the air- how I felt being reborn emotionally from nature, the ground, the air. After months of being forced into lockdown, I was finally able to birth the project by using body suspension, a community I am lucky to have found in NYC. Being able to suspend on the hooks was, as it always is, therapeutic, and gave me an artistic outlet to focus these new emotions as well as feel the tension of the physical tether of the hooks, with the feeling of flying in the air.”
Will Atkins is a NYC based actor & performer, heavily inspired by his movement practice. Will has years of Butoh training with Vangeline, Yumiko Yoshioka, Mari Osani, and other masters of the art form. He participated three years in the Queer Butoh festival hosted by the New York Butoh Insittue, which spawned his award winning solo La Sangre (Best Experimental Show, United Solo Festival 2019) where Will uses body piercing needles to draw his own blood as a statement on queer trauma and triumph. He regularly creates movement based performance pieces for solo works and in collaboration with other artists. Will utilizes body modification works including using needles, flesh hook suspension, and shibari to explore themes of queerness, the body, trauma, pain, and elements of BDSM. He has worked with many international artists and designers including Esperanza Spalding, Pissy Pussy, Uta Bekaia, Vangeline, The Skin Project, Tetsu Collective, MM Fabrications, and others. He trains regularly with the NYC Movement Company (Ido Portal), and works with the Anchors Away body hook suspension team as a practitioner and performer.