Saturday, 14 May 2011

A Series of Uncertainties (A new series of performances, Chapter Arts Centre 27-29.04.2011)

Three new performances were created over the three-day Perfformiad event at Chapter. The event was a brilliant success, and myself and the other two artists were humbled by the amount of support we had from our audience. They showed great patience and commitment to the developing work.

Threshold was my first performance at the Arts Centre, during which I placed myself in front of the main entrance and invited people to carry me across the threshold. Participants struggled with my weight as they tried to walk the short distance with me in their arms. The act fostered a real sense of trust between the carrier and myself, as I often had to sense their strength whilst also taking into account their physical safety (the last thing I wanted was to injure someone’s back!) Overall this action was very enjoyable and created a very festive atmosphere- people clapped, whistled and cheered as people succeeded in the task. It felt like a village wedding.

The second performance lasted five hours, without a break from 2pm until 7pm. Curiad/Beat was an invitation for people to come and find my heartbeat using a stethoscope. The intimacy this action prompted was intense as people had to concentrate and move in closely. People smiled with delight once they had located the heartbeat, and regularly commented on how steady and calm it was.

The final performance Home is where the heart is, lasted five hours and forty-four minutes. During this work I aimed to fill the front courtyard with small house shaped cardboard structures, which had a red heart inside. My intentions for making the work were to stress the importance of belonging, and my frustration at not being able to afford property. Much like the other two pieces, this work focused on my desires to settle. I laboured over these houses for three hours, carved the shapes from the cardboard, and painted red hearts. I felt trapped in this making process, it was too focused and I found it difficult to engage with onlookers. After a while I felt that I needed to change tack and began building myself a home. The structure was solid and provided good shelter from the wind. I sat in my new found home for two hours and forty-four minutes. People began to join me to discuss the series of performances they had seen me undertake. The work became far more socially engaging than the previous action.

Having the opportunity to change the course of a work whilst making it publicly was liberating and stems from the freedom of making new work over three days. Often artists working in the realm of performance have to prove themselves within a two-hour slot. Perfformiad’s structure allowed all three artists to establish a bond with the audience, whilst allowing the work to grow more organically over a period of time.

Photocredit to Cathy Boyce

Images of Threshold will follow shortly