John Cage
Definitely one of the biggest influences on our work. He was an inspiration both in his desire to include more of the world around him in his work and in his playfulness and willingness to let that work be influenced and shaped by forces outside of our personal design or control.

John Cage on Silence

John Cage and Merce Cunningham


Marcel Duchamp
We consider him the greatest artist of the 20th century who changed the way we perceive and what we consider art irrevocably. There is ‘before Duchamp’ and ‘after Duchamp.’ Our colossal work Life and Times aspires in its structure and scope to Duchamp's Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even).

Marcel Duchamp and his work
Marcel Duchamp on indifferent taste

Alan Kaprow
Like Cage, his writings are extremely inspiring, as is his proposal that ‘art,’ far from being an aesthetic product, is part of a continuum of human activity.

Andy Warhol
He is, of course, an inspiration not only in his experiments with extended duration (films like Empire, Sleep, Eat, etc...) but also for his pioneering use of recorded audio. He used to take a tape recorder wherever he went and record.  His novel, A, like much of our work, was made from verbatim audio.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol documentary (1/8) by Kim Evans (1987).

Reza Abdoh
His Quotations from a Ruined City stunned both of us when we first arrived in New York in 1993/94.  We were lucky enough to see that show at least three or four times, and, remember it vividly to this day. It was urgent, passionate, and necessary work, and though it looks nothing like our current theater work, we still strive for that same sense of passion and necessity.  

Richard Foreman
His work was a regular piece of inspiration for Pavol and I, who lived for sixteen years just one block from his Ontological-Hysteric Theater. We never missed a performance. Pavol worked with him on two of his shows.

An interview: Getting Out of Bed with Richard Foreman

Liz LeCompte
She has been another constant source of inspiration. Right after we moved to New York, we were lucky enough to see Frank Dell's The Temptation of St. Anthony and the combination of slapstick, magic, showbiz and mysticism was like a heady drug. Her work with her actors obviously inspired us in that they always seemed to have too much to do, and the fiction of the show was thin as paper. You could see the sweat and the effort -- and the incredible detail and richness of the work.

Gertrude Stein
Obvious, but essential. Her work absolutely precedes us in its musicality and simplicity and American vernacular.

Michael Snow
Inspiring for the way in which he interrogates the basic structures and language of film and filmmaking. I hope we do the same with live performance as he does with film.  

Michael Snow
Wavelength, 1967

Husband and wife filmmakers who have made some of our favorite films. Their use of language and landscape and preference for ‘non-actors’ and the simple perfection and precision - and resistance - of their work is an inspiration. As is their long career together.

Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet
Working on their adaptation of Franz Kafka's first novel, Amerika.
The work of Straub and Huillet, filmed by Pedro Costa

Ken Jacobs
His epic work Star Spangled to Death, made mostly using found footage, was an important work for us, as are some of his filmic performance works. Pavol and I were lucky enough to see some of his Nervous System performances (his own invention) that also made a big impression on us, both in their duration and the physical effect they have on perception. Years afterwards, we have been talking about one of these performances.

Read Ken Jacob's The Joys and Sorrows of Evanescent Cinema

Ken Jacobs

Tony Conrad
For one of our rehearsals we took all of our company to go see his film The Flicker. We also have been interested in his early work with the Theatre of Eternal Music (also known as the Dream Syndicate). We only wish we could have seen one of their performances live.

Robert Breer
Our biggest inspiration for the animated movies we started making in 2011.  His use of rotoscopy allowed us to consider drawing by hand our own animated film, which has since become Episode 4.5. His slowly moving sculptures (called Floats) were also inspirational to us in staging Episodes 3&4 of Life and Times.

Robert Breer
Fuji, 1974
Robert Breer
Rug, 1968

Jack Smith
The secret source behind literally everything in avant-garde film and performance in New York. He was famously known for saying a show would start at midnight and then puttering around with props until 2am, when the only audience left was those that really needed it (typical audience included Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman, etc. etc.) His filmmaking inspired us, when we had stopped making theater entirely – to understand that you can work with literally nothing -- a broken camera and some stolen expired film and make a masterpiece with no apologies.

Jack Smith
Jack Smith, Normal Love

Harry Smith
Another legend of the New York avant-garde. A collector of archeological specimens and another great animator/filmmaker. We were only able to see his film Mahogany once (it's rarely screened as it's a 4 screen projection set in extreme detail to music) but it remains burned in the brain.

Harry Smith
Film, Heaven and Earth Magic (1962)