Time is such a curious thing. Just yesterday I was trying to remember performances of mine from the last four years, for a new book work I’m making. Revisiting documentation and digging through memories is for me an uncanny experience. Punctuation, echoes, discrepancies, gaps. I’ve also been revisiting an old collaboration with Kathe Izzo, and dicussing some possible new collaborations – our Public Love Project was in 2006, an intense, platonic, artistic romance, between quite different selves. It would be wonderful to work together again. I also, a month or so ago, took part in work that fellow East Street Arts studio holder Carla Moss was doing towards a book work. She’s been researching time of late, and as part of her project we exchanged text messages at 3 hourly intervals (inspired by the Fibonacci sequence) throughout a 24 hour day. It was so strange, receiving and writing these private reflections, at times half asleep, usually in the middle of doing something else, framed by the spiraling of temporality.
The last couple of months have been flying by with lots of exciting work – running the Live Art Crash Courses with Compass in March, last month presenting at the I’m not sitting at the front seminar in Cardiff and Performing Documents conference in Bristol, and just last weekend performing in a group action for a special VIP event at ] Performance S p a c e [. I’m sure the next few months will go as quickly too – I’m thrilled to have been commissioned by Knowle West Media Centre to make new work as part of Foodscapes, and by East Street Arts to run a CycloGeography workshop with writer Caleb Parkin, as part of BikeFest (more on this soon…).
Foodscapes is an AHRC-funded project in collaboration with UWE, exploring food poverty, power and sustainability. Other partners include ELM – Knowle West’s Edible Landscape Movement and The Matthew Tree Project, an organisation that runs food banks and provides support for people in need. It’s the very early stages, but I’ll be making three interventions in Bristol, one at The Parlour Showrooms in June, and two more between then and September. It comes at a very interesting time and is an incredibly pertinent theme – at the same time as we’re seeing a demonisation of the poor in a lot of the press, a tightening of some benefits and cuts to a lot of services, it’s no surprise that demand for foodbanks has risen dramatically, with a new one apparently opening every three days. How, as an artist, can I respond to this situation? What sense of responsibility do I have?
It’s perhaps not by coincidence that I’ve been reflecting on my practice as a performer over the past couple of months. I realised (just before VANTAGE) that the current series of action performances I’ve been making has come to an end (I say current, in fact I’ve been developing this work over almost four years). I’ve also at the same time been doing a fair amount of research, writing and presenting on participation and social engagement in art (although profess to have neither expertise nor conclusions). At the aforementioned group action at ] PS [ the other week I brought almost no objects, no premeditated actions, and worked with very still, slow, almost banal movements and interactions. An audience member remarked afterwards that my performance had been almost invisible, which pleased me somewhat. I’ve been wondering what happens when I take a step back, if I can orchestrate situations, remain present, do almost nothing and let a work unfold itself. It’s not easy, requires trust, restraint and a razor sharpness. I’m still working on it, and will let you know.
For now though, the sun is shining and the outside is calling me…