Friday, 28 October 2011
If “in the observation of things there is also the observation of memory” then the site of criticism is the finding and opening up in the artwork of what breaks from memory, from history. Critical engagement seeks the discontinuity, the rupture with the past that reveals this actual present, or throws light into an expanding hinterland of potential futures. In the desire to make legible something outside of an “observation of memory”, something improbable and momentarily outside the layers of institutional framing, a critical engagement or interpretative encounter needs to apply maximum stress to the artwork.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
The moment of interpretation, the space of reflection moves and the encounter extends beyond the confines of an actual physical proximity to the work. The live duration of interpretation continues as the event itself moves past in time, not into the site of forgetting, or into an archival space of documentation. To maintain the act of interpretation involves none of these sites. Interpretation continues to develop as the event rolls around in the spoil of un-witnessed events, the sparks of its passage into other spaces and times become legible as a second-hand communication, through the telling and re-telling of other conversations and discussions, relayed back to this site of interpretation through voice. The work has shifted momentarily into a video document, a recording capable of being repeatedly unwound as a technical spectacle, but the telling of this particular event is still different, it does not rest in seeing a projection of the workings of the black box of the camera. The vocal telling, is instead projection of the biological black box of the mind.
Friday, 21 October 2011
Thursday, 20 October 2011
In the 1530’s the word performance referred to “the carrying out of a promise, duty, etc.,” Between 1590-1610s the word shifted to become “a thing performed” or “the action of performing a play”. In 1709 the word came to mean “a public entertainment”. The term Performance Art came into usage in the 1970’s.
But this is history.
The following are comments made by the artists during the salon, held in the writer’s boardroom. In reference to the previous open rehearsal in the city square during 19 October 2011, artists Adeline Bourret, Sam Belinfante and Lore Lixenburg gave their following perspectives. (Transcribed in chronological order)
“I actually did something in the square when people were not around. I was going to do some movement… with all the drumming… but when I actually saw it I thought it was part of artistic decisions. I thought actually… it is all about sound. And then I turned around and there was this empty square and I thought… It would be really great if I were standing in the middle doing some movement. Some shapes. So that is what happened for me this afternoon.” - Adeline Bourret
“For me I thought it was one of the least successful things that we have partaken in so far. I think the main reason for that, is that we contradicted stuff that we have been talking about all week –in terms of the fact that we made a performance. We were lined up a bit like a kind of a Goya painting where they are all lined up against a wall or with the guns…and then we were all there to do a performance and I properly made this all worse making the drummers (stand) in a line like that."
We were talking a lot about margins and liminati. It was really interesting that we were going to do a performance in the square but we weren’t allowed in the square. So we had to have this peripheral position and by actually straddling this position a lot of the problematics of what we were doing came to the fore and the fact of who were we actually doing this for… Were we doing this for us? For the development of the project? Or were we doing this to pander to a certain requirement or to a certain widening participation element or for/from a certain city or gallery position? We were on an uneasy position on this periphery, which was made successful by Adeline puncturing that and then going in, into the space which wasn’t the space of the performance.” – Sam Belinfante
“I think that maybe the mistake today is that we wanted to generate images to be used afterwards for the gallery. I think that is how we saw this day and tomorrow but because of how we were positioned it was very much like - this is the stage – although there were maybe invisible boundaries, they were there. That is why I was like hmm this is interesting there… I am going to do something there." (the square) – Adeline Bourret
See its funny I almost didn’t see it as performance. That is how I work a lot… - Adeline Bourret
“I think it’s about ownership of that performance and asking who are you performing for? I think tomorrow when we got to the botanic gardens I think we just got to do the same thing we would do in an empty gallery and with the kind of supplementary interest of having public engagement. That’s the kind of tension.” - Sam Belinfante
“So to make it a real rehearsal. More of a rehearsal” – Lore Lixenberg
How much of this undertaking of rehearsals operates as an attempt to initially obfuscate the notion of a rehearsal and performance yet all the while, is building a progression towards that which is familiar? That which we might be tempted to call a success? We will know more when we compare the rehearsal in the city centre to the rehearsal in the botanical gardens and in particular when we have watched the cumulative performance.
the world is comfortable with the rhetoric of collaboration, but not with its actual concrete practice. in an arts education setting, the typical studio will be full of drawing easels, made for one eye and one hand. the size of the paper sheet, made to fit the scale of the upright easel, is suited to the single gaze. most rooms and buildings only have chairs designed for single occupants and nearly all doorways are only capable of admitting one person at a time, the very architecture pushes us apart, its fixtures and fittings split us into solitudes. a piece of furniture to accomodate collaboration is rare, usually the only space designed for a group of people, supposedly working on a common agenda is the meeting or board room, but even here the single expansive table is so large that individuals are physically out of reach when they sit on opposite sides. in this atmosphere how is it possible to foster an air of collaboration or collective agency, when even the physical fabric itself is an obstacle.
An interesting element to arise from last night’s Salon was how the artists were entirely unaware of what our intended were to be. David asked about the nature of our process, Sam was concerned about whether and how our work would impact the performance, Bruce welcomed the fact that it could. Fundamentally, and this also arose from the fact that the artists were disappointed in yesterday’s rehearsal, it seemed that the notion of their authorship being undermined by factors including expectation, the audience and ourselves could have an adverse effect on the unintentional intentionality of their working process.
I’m very aware that the above text makes a clear distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’, which is the case to an extent but we are now coming to a point where our paths will converge further, and it would help if we could use the time apportioned for the Salon to make this happen.
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
While it was stressed throughout yesterday’s performance that this was a work-in-progress and the only thing that anyone was sure about were the incidental incidents that felt right, today seemed more assured. Perhaps the presence of an audience added to the performative gravitas. At its peak the audience was composed of approximately over a hundred people. Glancing around at the audience towards the latter part of the performance, I noticed that almost a quarter of observers had moved on with their day. The rehearsal ended abruptly and applause was scattered, but the response was positive overall. Puzzled, maybe, but positive. There will be another Salon discussion this afternoon at 17:00, I think the participating artists and technicians can look on today as a success, if they choose to (there are few intended expectations from their end).
“Remember Bruce you have permission to fail.” Sophia Hao
Success is a fixed coordinate. Failure runs along lines of latitude. Failure guarantees a continuum.
Success is history.
Between 12:00 and 13:30, is an informal event called Meet the Writers. Our invitation here has been funded by the MFA Fine Art department at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee and as such we are encouraged to involve the MFA students in our discourse. At 15:00 for an hour we join the open rehearsals for A cut A scratch A score to see the work in progress and at 17:00 there is a salon, a roundtable chat about the performance and project in general.
All events are open to the public and so far the reception has been good. In addition to the artists we have been joined by staff, curators, students and members of the public. This is part of a deliberate attempt by the curators, organisers and artists to enmesh among all participants (and as a public performance it is hoped that participation will extend beyond the artists and ourselves) a nature of collaboration; true collaboration where the process of creation is cyclical and no permanent outcomes have been intentionally fixed.
As writers, our invitation here has been with the implicit contract that we create a critical dialogue in response to the work and work-in-progress. Personally, it feels that we should retain (or at least strive to retain) a critical distance from the performance. To engage and evolve with the artists but not go native. The demarcation (or lack thereof) of roles is troubling though it feels that we writers are developing our own strategy to balance upon that thin red line. A question that remains unanswered currently though is 'Who is this for?'. A recurring motif for the trip so far has been the notion of failure, and it has been discreetly agreed that not only is failure an option but perhaps should be met head-on. The question of audience is a large one but one that at the moment feels peripheral to the situation that we have encountered here.