History repeating

For years I’ve had an ongoing dilemma about repeating performances. In some ways I see it as a bit of a cop-out – when work functions as a personal rite made public, through the endurance of a certain ordeal, it seems like it should only be performed once. But the repetition of such an ordeal, like the repetition of any trauma, changes it, sometimes for the positive. And time changes things, as I realised recently performing Becoming-snail (originally made in 2003) and Becoming-locust (only made in late 2007, but performed 6 times in as many weeks) in Canada in June. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been deconstructing them both critically, but I felt a certain element of quotation in performing them, like I was inhabiting a place not directly inside the work, but closely beside it. What does this do to work? What does it do to the notion of authenticity or realness in performance? (both of them problematic terms but ones we’re still drawn to). I don’t know. More later…

2 thoughts on “History repeating

  1. Hi Paul,
    Glad to find your blog.
    About the repetition of performances, I think you may miss one point: the public. The audience takes part of the performance, and since it changes every time, the performance and the way it’s received also changes. It can never be the same ?

    I witnessed your performance in Chicoutimi (Québec). I hope to see more of you soon.

  2. Salut Thomas,
    Good to hear from you. I totally agree with you about the public, that is another dimension to the problem. Of course the performance is different every time, but if elements of it are already familiar to the performer they will be different than if performed the first time. I think that what I am trying to work out is how important the intention of the artist is, and how much this affects the experience of the public as well. When doing something for the first time (like the locust piece in Chicoutimi), I often don’t know if it will work, if I’ll finish it, if I’ll injure myself, etc. When I repeat a performance, I have a different awareness of what I’m doing and so the performance changes. Perhaps I’m just a secret adrenaline junkie!

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