‘My word is my bond’, 15 March 2002. Photo: Elisita Kemp.FrenchMottershead

‘My word is my bond’, 15 March 2002.
Photo: Elisita Kemp.


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My word is my bond

Throgmorton Restaurant and Bar, London 15 March, 22 March and 5 April

Reviewed by: Lucy Kimbell »

Late Friday evening I find myself standing behind the London Stock Exchange shouting at my friend. She's screaming at me for giving her phone number to a man in a bar. "But no" I yell, "I wouldn't really give him your number. One of the digits was wrong." She's not persuaded. "He could work it out. I don't trust you." This was not a regular Friday night – the location (the City), the vibe (City Boy bacchanalia) and the feeling that I ended up acting out of character.

This was the curious effect of an interactive performance event My word is my bond by artists FrenchMottershead. During the evening twenty-five 'micro-performers' joined fifty ticket-holders in a bar – most of us watching each other to see what was going to happen. Other people wandered down from the bar upstairs: watching, drinking, talking. Just like being in a bar on a Friday night but as the hours passed it became less wary and more confrontational.

My guests and I were confident that we could tell who the micro-performers were but in entering conversations we became confused. It was like being in an online chatroom where you feel you can do anything because you are anonymous, even though we were in a public space.

Having interviewed the artists beforehand, I knew to look out for small escalations in the behaviour of the micro-performers. The surprise was the way my own behaviour and that of my guests changed. This was social experiment as art; a performance where you had to take responsibility for yourself, or feel cheated, wanting your £5 back, as some of the audience did. It was not so much "we are all performers" as "we are all wankers in a bar" – but of course it's up to us to choose how much of a wanker.

Writer detail:
Lucy Kimbell is an artist and management consultant.

In 2002 she helped programme the 'Ways of Working' study day for the Collaborative Arts Unit of the Arts Council of England. Recent commissions include Audit, Book Works 2002, the LIX Index 2002-3 Arts Council of England/Channel 4/Film and Video Umbrella, and The Most Beautiful Thing in the Gallery 2003, shown at New Art Gallery Walsall for the Bitparts Festival, curated by FACT.


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