Someone once asked me what I do. In response I said I ‘kind of did sort of performance stuff’. Her response to my, admittedly, vague answer was ‘What like singing and dancing and acting and stuff like that?’ I hung my head realising the massive mistake I had made.
I often follow up my ‘sort of performance’ description with the suggestion that I am searching for a new term, or a more appropriate term, to describe and, I suppose define my practice. ‘Interventions, acts, suggestions, occurrences. But surely all of these terms fall under the realm of performance. Of course they do, but only once I start using the word ‘performance’ with more conviction and belief will I truly start to understand this.
I want to further develop my performance practice, to become more engaged in t, and to focus more heavily on that aspect of my practice. I feel it is the area of my work that I want to chase at the minute, to make it more conscious, more considered and to give myself more confidence to do it. I want to look at the modes of performance, its history and legacy, to see what people actually see when they view a performance. What they take from it, and what they expect from it. I suppose most people want to see a spectacle, to be engaged, to lose themselves in it. But what if that isn’t the case? What if what they see is mundane, boring, dull and utterly ordinary? But what if it has something in it that makes them question what they see, makes them try to see something other, almost to look beneath the skin, to view this ‘thing’ from a place that they don’t understand. And what if I am putting them in this place just to let them down? What if I don’t want to please anyone, and what about if I don’t even want to achieve the antithesis? What does this do.? I am asking many more questions than I am answering. But I suppose so much of my work has involved an aspect of performance, albeit subtle or absent. It has so often been to do with process over result. Painting the gallery walls white for example, is not about the white walls, but about the process, the action, the performance. Is something only a performance if people are invited to view? Is a performance only something that has to be seen? If a performance goes unseen then does that make it ‘not performance’? But then what is seeing? Someone came into the gallery and saw me painting, they didn’t know I was performing, people saw me walking home, people will see me waiting outside of transmission, but they wont be an audience, they wont be ‘viewing’ me. So does this make it ‘not performance’? does a performance need to be viewed or just seen?