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By: Angela Kennedy
A site reponsive residency on the first floor of Highbridge studios and gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne. Part of a research project investigating installation and performance.
# 11 [12 September 2011]
# 10 [24 August 2011]
I was pleasantly surprised that my month long residency at the first floor at Highbridge studios and gallery - the large empty first floor, during July inspired me to write so regularly. Often the space was dark, stuffy, and dusty. Once my ritual of opening all of the many windows each day was done and I sat in my the space, listening to the sound of the city and the calling seagulls, my long term habit of writing in my journal seemed to give me a course of thought and contemplation that was needed to create. The large old physical space encouraged a physical response and as my work is rooted in responding to the processes of the body and responding to those, a certain flow seemed to come about.
I found the final evening and round up to 'In Conversation - a body of work researching links between art, artists and well being', at Highbridge on the 18th August, with Kath, meeting the group, the groups work, showing Helen's blog and work, seeing David’s work again and people sitting watching my video of 'blue', enabled a certain finishing of a beginning, of a kind of circle.
Then reading all of my writing out loud and hearing my own voice say the words - which I didn't do on the evening of the performance - (I had the text put up around the space), hearing the rhythms of the words and sentences in that space where they were thought and produced, gave a new sense and weight to the work I hdan't expected. Particularly the audience’s responses and questions, which were stimulating. Maybe this goes once again back to the debate about performance, what it is, does it matter where and how work is performed - and how does the nature of that performance work and installation manifest when responding to a particular space? These were some of the questions which we began to explore and discuss after the Pina Bausch showing, at the beginning of the project, though the conversations were much more about meaning and content I believe - particularly with the airing of very differing views regarding performance from the Live art and Performance art worlds and the understanding of what performance might or could be... Specifically beginning to debate what is performance, acting, action, and artifice. Of what is the role of the artist? I have very clear views with regard to what kinds of things one should consider and the history of how the performer is regarded using the body as a means of expression, what those pitfalls might be coming from the performance art and dance world and the power of expression the body holds, particularly as a woman in this society and the codes and boundaries we find we have to work with and around. How we might challenge those and not compromise our own selves as performers - in particular women performers who are interested in their work having integrity and wanting to make work which challenges violence against women and sterotypes... What is authentic? What is real? What is exploitative of yourself and/or others?.....
This is a conversation I would very much like to continue and explore, particularly in relation to site and site responsive work which I am heavily engaged with currently as a performance installation artist who also writes. It has been great to be part of something larger where we can begin to ask questions with respect and integrity of one another and make a beginning to possibly forge some deeper links re a curiosity of one another’s practice. Also, through Kath and her generous group of visitors to the artists at Highbridge, an opportunity to develop other conversations that enable another context for the work to be seen and accessed through which I feel has enabled a bringing of other meanings to the work, the world and a certain mindfulness of our art and practice.
# 9 [28 July 2011]
Feedack re 'blue' - from Artist Dee Shaw:
"The presence of Angela's dress was the first sound that I heard shushing across the floor, satin against concrete, this set the tone for a silent elegant start to " Blue"
The large space became the outer body which encompassed her own and this set up a dialogue between performer and surroundings. The windows, a striking aspect of the space became the conversation piece between the two elements, a need to open them and to let in air and to bring in the outside became part of the ritual.
A single chair was the only furniture. Angela sat silently her reverie broken only by the raucous cries of seagulls which she turned to acknowledge striking up a conversation with the outside.
After crawling on all fours she tries frantically to rub the dust off her hands. In her red satin dress this became reminiscent of Lady Macbeth trying to clean away her sins of murder, this changed the mood of the piece. The second prop ( lengths of sky blue net ) she wound around herself displaying a reference to the virgin Mary, two polar opposites of the myth of womanhood. The finale was the unfurling of the net through the window and into the the courtyard below.
A beautiful experience, where simplicity unfolded into introspection."
# 8 [25 July 2011]
written feedback from audience member, artist and curator Carole Luby on the 'blue' performance installation:
"Angela Kennedy believes in how the body can convey, through the slightest of movements, a deep and resonating connection with all bodies.
Her work Blue in the gorgeous light and spacious environment on the first floor of Highbridge studios moved me in ways that I had not anticipated. As an ex dancer, but still enjoying a dialogue through her body, she refuses to give us the usual conventions of what we think we know about how the body should respond as in a choreographed intervention; she transforms the way in which we approach our normative ways of viewing and understanding of what we witness.
Blue also refuses a linear narrative; decisions made to open the line of windows along the wall, use the chair, revealed a psychological and physical opening up, also challenging our usual conventions as to how the performer engages with the audience.
As the performance progressed we were moved around the space. It was as if we were not there. But we were intimately involved with everything that was going on. Blue gave us a sense of ownership as well as a reason for feeling unseen. Disconcerting and unsettling as it was, we were unable to take our eyes off Angela as she occupied the space with images resounding with a neurotic madness, rage, tension and a compulsion to return time and time again to the inner body.
A chair, the only prop. I was reminded again of the Pina Bausch performances where a chair becomes a world, a space, a universe and the human body a repository for all the emotions a person experiences.
In its entirety Blue represented a nemesis in all that is pleasurable ..... which generously offered me an opportunity to think afresh of what it means to be human."
# 7 [8 July 2011]
Exactly a week since the performance and informal feedback. Not quite so exhausted as i felt earlier in the week.
Very helpful and positive feedback, 21 in the audience and on reflection still could have took more time, waited more.
but, after a long time out - many years of waiting, injury, disability and bringing up two children, I am now, curiously, returning to performing. not what i imagined, but in a very different guise; another degree, in fine art - since being an experimental dance artist in the 80's and early 90's. now, with my beginning again last year through the fabulous '25sg' live art residency, i feel with 'blue' it, my practice, is still ongoing, inter-discplinary, feminist, there is progress in process.
great to have an audience. it changes everything.
apart from the security guard locking my exit into the space for the performance and having to find the emergency stairs!- I felt it was ok..
next time, even more distillation..
# 6 [30 June 2011]
what is performance?
day before the performance and I'm still nursing an old dance injury
its strange, i had felt it coming for weeks and then walking too many hills, it just said enough is enough i guess
so with public sector workers out on strike - good for them, and unable to go along and show my solidarity i'm moaning on here instead and trying to 'rest'..!
however, having some enforced stillness - relatively - with two sons at home, one of which is a teenager, finding myself landing in a place getting ready, preparing to show my work to others... it is a good space, waiting, collecting..
Interesting debate at highbridge studios last week re performance, after i showed some bits from an old videopiece of pina bauschs 'lament of the empress' from 1989. people debating what is performance, what is artiface, what is acting and what is live art?... some very healthy questions but i was I naively shocked at some peoples understanding and ideas around this subject. it just goes to show.... it made do some more research on the subject though and find lots more definitions.
luckily i hung all the text on Monday, so just got the performance now: 'blue' - tomorrow Friday 1st July at 7.30pm, first floor highbridge studios newcastle upon tyne - for any one who wants to come along, with informal discussion and refresments after!
# 5 [21 June 2011]
Reluctant to hear the birds
the seagulls today.
pinpricks of other stories
rivets of tension
where do i sit?
where do i sit?
vulnerable and dispossessed
spiralling portals of air
the river feeds us
ambulance to the rescue
sink into the earth
woman in a dress
# 4 [17 June 2011]
see the early morning sunshine and shadows on the floor for a change. Photograghing chair in the sun - me, in a silouette in the window, another shadow.
I sit for a while, hanging over the chair. Feeling my head and neck release. even my tongue rests better in my palette....I begin moving, rocking the chair, against the floor. a rhythm. re-visit my slow walking motif - transferring the weight through my feet, rocking forward and back. one step forward two back. I slowly travel down the space. I settle. Leading with a different foot, I explore turning in my hip toward the blue and feel the wind from the window inviting a different response
# 3 [14 June 2011]
colour flies out the window
wind lifts the blue
heating system footsteps
# 2 [9 June 2011]
memories of the rag trade
the seagulls talk about it
we dont listen
still girders hold vigil
I am multi-disciplinary artist working in movement, performance, installation, sculpture, dance and video, as well as painting. My work is about process and the body.
I make work through a process of investigations using improvised movement scores arising from site specific spaces. Then translate those responses into installations and performances, often with a live audience.