Monday, 28 November 2011

Is this a rhetorical device?

[by Mary Paterson.

1000 words and 102 questions. In response to Being Seen, Being Heard at Chelsea Theatre, 27th November 2011. ]

Is this your body?

Is this a space?

Are we in agreement? Have you heard this before? Did you say something?

Are you reading in silence?

If I repeated the question, would your answer be the same or different?

Can I start with this - who is your community? When you read ‘your community’ did you think I meant the community to which you belong, or the community with whom you are currently engaged?

Is it a project of performance to create communities? To designate, service and evaluate them?

Can I ask again – who is your community? Or, to put it another way – how does it feel to be identified?

How does publicly funded (performance) art ensure it is on the side of the community, and not on the side of education or objectification; of corporations or governments? (Is the side of the community, in your opinion, the better side?)

What is an assembly, and who assembles (it)? How does publicly funded (performance) art ensure it is sustainable? Or, to put it another way – how do you know you are doing the right thing?

Are you allowed to say ‘the right thing’ any more?

Are you allowed to talk about racism if you are white? Are you allowed to talk about marginalisation if you are middle class? Are you allowed to talk about racism and marginalisation if you are middle class, inside a theatre, on a council estate, in Chelsea, on a Sunday? Did you think I had forgotten that knowledge is relative?

Is your community defined by your geography, technology or education? Do you use the same criteria to identify other people?

Do you look like him – the man over there with the Apple Mac and the microphone? Does he look like you? Does he point at you and say, ‘me’? Or does he say ‘we’? Or does he say –not in words, perhaps, but by body language, action or implication - ‘I did not hear you, I am going to answer a different question’?

Is this knowledge, culture, education or the production of another kind of value?

Is this public, private, pedagogic or instrumental? Is this mine, or yours? Is this your idea, and if it is, can I use it? Can I use it without permission? What would you do if I took it without permission, took credit for it, used it for propaganda, invented a word and made an exhibition of myself? Would you join me in sitting round a table and asking questions? Why not?

Is this sustainable? Do you and I share the same sense of humour? If I told you a joke, do you think you would laugh? Have you heard the one about the schoolmaster?

Who owns this event? Who is going to intrepret it? What are you willing to believe in? If I told you that all the colours you are seeing right now have been adjusted for warmth, would you feel a) warm b) chilled or c) like complaining? Who would listen to your complaint? Who do you hope would listen?

Is anyone listening? Have you ever suspected anyone of deliberately eavesdropping on your conversations, and then using the information they hear against you? Is anyone, or has anyone ever, hacked into your mobile phone? Have you ever asked anyone to act as your witness? Have you ever been asked to be a witness, and found the task impossible?

What is the difference between witnessing real life and witnessing an act of performance? What is the difference between being a consumer and being an audience member? What is the difference between being in a room and being in an online network?

Can you formulate an argument without a human in it?

What is your skill? What is your authorial expertise? What is your preferred political position, and do you ever think about changing it, just to see how soft and green it is on the other side? Do you still believe in anything? Do you still believe in something? Do you intend to convey meaning?

Where do you appear?

What is contemporary oral culture? What is the difference between data and statisitcs? How do you represent something that has already happened? Why? Is it interesting or tiresome to know that there is no way to regain the live moment? Is it elitist or democratic to mourn its loss?

Is this clear? Is this clearer?

What do you think it means, that your parents’ body language dances across your hands when you speak? What do you think it means about heritage, culture and class? Who are you networking with? What is close, and what is far? Why aren’t you speaking? Who’s fault is that?

What is the right pace, tone or language? In which situation would you be content to have no power, opinions or speech? Who would you nominate to speak for you? Let me rephrase that – is this democracy?

Is this space?

Is this culture? Is this the production of knowledge? Is this education? Is it friendship, social life, or politics? Is it mine or yours?

Is this space next to, inside, outside, under, over or beside another space? Is the other space your preferred space, or are you happy with this one? Be truthful – would you rather be inside another space, looking out at those of us over here? Would you rather be in a tent, with a placard, making your mark? On a scale of 1 to 10, how dangerous is your body? Or, to put it another way, how much danger are you prepared for?

When was the last time you were surprised? Are you on the side of police, politics, charity or justice? What do you need to read before you will read something new? Do you prefer a place of opposition or a place of security? How long is your memory? Where are you going? If you could start again with language, what would be your first word?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Inside Performance Vol 24 no. 3 2011

By Rachel Lois

INSIDE PERFORMANCE is a serialised writing project developed by Rachel Lois Clapham for Dance Theatre Journal.  Taking the form of a regular newspaper or magazine ‘column’ INSIDE PERFORMANCE is a periodic journey into the practice of writing from or as performance. For this special issue ‘Trashing’, Rachel Lois writes TRASH SUBMISSION which acts variously as declamation, instruction or title.

Writing for the Trashing issue of Dance Theatre Journal went through a curious process of condensation or extraction. Of first: googling ‘trashing’ and making a poem based on all the ‘hits’ (junk?) that ensues. Secondly, writing a piece ‘on trash’ that reflected on writing and its place within performance – as trash, as trashing - both a celebration of and critique. Thirdly, getting rather bored with the directness, or rather obedience, of this. And fourthly, turning to the particular editorial guidelines for the issue, along with the invitation ‘to submit’ a manuscript, and being caught up in submitting trash, and submitting to trash. And lastly, cleaving to just these two remaining words. TRASH SUBMISSION.

TRASH SUBMISSION then, is a declamation – perhaps from a trash manifesto, or a trash methodology. It invites thoughts on trashing submission  (of or to?). It is also an invitation in a much more  immediate sense: to trash (this particular page, the whole journal). The ultimate ‘?’ being what this act of readerly trashing might be.  As a title, TRASH SUBMISSION – whether referencing the theme of the journal, or being self-consciously depreciative of itself - hints at the work which is its namesake and begs the question where this ‘submission’ is. Perhaps ‘Trash Submission’ exists elsewhere, complete but omitted from this particular issue (for being unsuitable, for being trash?). Perhaps there was a printing error and only the title remains. Perhaps the work is not yet made or never will be. The notion of trash moves around these two words. Ultimately, it may just be a trashy submission.


Trashing Dance Theatre Journal is a dedicated and rigorous exploration of Trash in art, performance, work, and club culture. It features interviews with performance star and living-legend Penny Arcade, club performer Mouse, sex worker and activist Thierry Schaffauser, plus articles exploring the work of John Sex, Danish collective dunst, Club Wotever, wasted works, contaminated performances and the 'lowest form of performance' - living street sculptures. Forms of trashy articulation including soap box articles, TV Chat Shows and Tabloid Newspapers interrupt and compliment more formal essays and interviews in this special issue! More details here Trashing Dance Theatre Journal is available to purchase online at Unbound. Part of Performance Matters. 

Previous columns here, here and here

A text by Mary on the Trashing Performance programme as part of Performance Matters here

All images C. Dance Theatre Journal and the artists 2011. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Action Art Now NOTES

By Rachel Lois

Action Art Now NOTES are made from last weekend’s evening of performance curated by OUI Performance with Gillian Dyson, Paul Hurley, Poppy Jackson, and Christopher Mollon. These NOTES speculate on the nature of action or task - which was variously object-based, practised, done/un-done and automated in the work.

‘NOTES- the before, after and during; final, continual and provisional; eventual and event-full.' Very Small Kitchen on Rachel Lois Clapham’s NOTES.

 Poppy Jackson 1 Action Art Now

Poppy Jackson Action Art Now

Gillian Dyson Action Art Now

Notes Action Art Now

Paul Hurley Action Art now

Christopher Mollon Action Art Now

NOTES is an ongoing body of work by Rachel Lois Clapham focusing on diacritical marks, provisional or live writing from and as performance. They are made live in the same time and place of performance and often given to the performer directly after the performance as a gift.

Made as part of NOTA; an Open Dialogues research project that will produce a sometime set of pedagogic performance writing tools.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Wendy Houstoun: 50 ACTS – a Partial Response, in time.

By Mary Paterson

"The word, to me, is an active thing.”

“Language has a rhythm."

- Wendy Houstoun, Post-Show Discussion, after Fifty Acts at The Place, London, 15/11/11

Keeping time. Telling time. Making time. Falling out of time.

At some point, at some time, she will disappear.

She tells us so, in big, white, capital letters scrolling up the screen, like the epic intro to an adventure film.

She tells us so, sitting in the corner of the stage, sad and steroetyped like an old person, next to black and white dancing showgirls.

Old times, other people’s times, times made poignant with age.

At some point, at some time, she will disappear.

But all that comes later.

In the beginning, time stops.

Time is dead. It is the end of time.

But all that comes first.

For now there is spinning, there is movement, there are customer surveys.

How did you find your experience of dying? There are jokes.

There is George Osborne, cutting things.

There is a chorus of yesses. There is a chase. There is music. There is poetry.

There is rhythm. There is rhyme, metre, and dance.

There is Act One, followed by Act Two, all the way up to Fifty.

In the middle there is an interval. She re-does things.

She lets the movements of the first Twenty-Nine acts ripple over her body as if they haven’t found their meaning yet.

She pulls the tape out of a cassette to the accompaniment of two women, talking of anticipation.

She reads the cassette tape with her fingers to divine her future.

I see a pension. Oh no, I don’t.

There are jokes.

She smashes some old vinyl records in time to the beat.

Keeping time.

Losing time.

She re-plays the sound of a woman’s voice.

Ok. Cheers, then. Lots of Love.

The woman’s voice fades out of time.

Lots of Love.

The woman’s voice fades out of time and out of ear shot.

Keeping time. Telling time. Making time. Falling out of time.

At some point, at some time, she will disappear.

Everyone is telling her so.

Everything is telling her so.

Drumroll please.

The invisible person behind the cloak can be heard sobbing.

Would you describe the latter part of your life as: satisfactory; unsatisfactory; neither satisfactory or unsatisfactory?

At the beginning, time stops.

Time is dead. It is the end of time.

At the end there is no ending. She is going to disappear.

At some point, at some time.

At the end, she scratches for an ending.

Perhaps she is clutching on to time.

Inbetween, there is falling, there is equipment, there are risk assessments.

There is the language of the bureaucrat, of passive success and implicit blame.

Do you need training?

There is a chase. There is music. There is poetry.

There is rhythm. There is rhyme, metre, and dance.

Perhaps she will go with a bang.

Perhaps she will go with a rhyme.

Perhaps she will go out with the lights.

Perhaps she will go with a bow.

Perhaps she will fade away.

She bows.

When she bows, we clap.

(We clap loud enough to bring her back.)