Looking to meet and talk to other artists who work with dance and performance in galleries TBA festival was a great place. The C.E.L. artists (Creative Exchange Labs) featured two Artists practice I have been interested in for a while, Brennan Gerrard and Ryan Kelly.  I was lucky to be able to organise a meeting with Brennan discussing some ideas relating to their work and specifically Timelining.

A current interest within my practice is looking at the administrative process in galleries of the Condition Report as a means to explore inter-relations between performance and visual art. Currently in early research stages about how best to approach working with a C.R. in relation to performance and performance artists. As part of this meeting I asked questions  and discussed ideas around their project Timelining.  This work is interesting as a performance owned by the Guggenheim in New York I wanted to understand the parameters  important for the works to retain integrity once the performance has left the hands of the Artists.As part of the sale like many artworks Brennan discussed a few aspects that make up the develop the contracts that entitle the work to be sold.

Transmit/ters/ting. Discussing how the work continues to be made once the performance is owned and outside of the Artists hands. The need for bodies/performers to inhabit the work means for either the same cast must be used or a means for teaching/training new performers into the work. Transmitters is a word that refers to this process of passing the life of the work from one body to the next. For the work discussed this was stipulated as a performer who has performed in the work two times or more.

Life. We discussed a grey area in their contract around the owner holding responsibility for keeping the work alive. I have heard of this sort of clause being contained in sales of art before but it seems important for owning Performances. Unlike leasing the license of a Balanchine Dance for a period of time, owning a work means there is a different relationship to the transaction with an emphasis on preserving the work rather than presenting the work or in relation to dance companies ‘using’ the work for their own means – not to say someone buying performance art may have alterior motives however the focus does not lie in borrowing the dress (performance) to see if it looks good with the shoes (dancers). I asked about whether there were specifics, i.e performed twice every 5 years etc. but there was none, it seemed to up to the owner and it makes sense, what is the point of buying something that needs life just to keep store it in an airtight room. The question around why performances are being bought is something that I am interested in, is ownership integral to preservation?

Instruction. Discussing influences over how the constraints to who how the work is sold, the work of Sol Lewitt and Felix Gonzales-Torres came into discussion. Looking at works such as Lewitts Drawing Instructions or Gonzales’ Perfect Lovers and his candy piles series there is an inherent performativity in the work and an embrace of the works permanence; the works exist under certain circumstances and may not exist continually. What is needed for these works to exist is a body to fulfill certain criteria or in other words, perform a set of tasks. I find this relationship interesting as it places more agency on objects, or maybe looks at leveling the hierarchies of materials out; bodies, pencil, walls, architecture etc. This sort of approach of increasing empathy with objects is explored in Jane Bennetts Vibrant Matter, at the moment i think this is a useful way of approaching the gap between performance and visual art objects in relation to the condition report.

I am interested in these aspects not as a means to begins to explore selling my own performances, but as a means looking at how each artform functions in relation to each other. As an artist working in both Visual Arts and Dance contexts I am becoming more aware of how performance is treated in relation to a fine art object, and the condition report opens up ways of presenting these differences. 





As part of PICA’s programme at TBA they overlap a residency programme called Creative Exchange Labs featuring artists Local – International with a emphasis on promoting discussion. These paired up 2/3 artists to discuss similarities on practices and concerns. Through my time at TBA festival I found some of these dicussions along with the programmed talks on artists featured within TBA to be some of the most fruitful and generous events for me. It was refreshing hearing a diverse range of artists concerns and most importantly ones not centered in Western Europe, though being part of the wider influence of Western and globalised culture I found approaches and discussions around identity took a different form. Watching a group of 8 different painters/dancers/singers… present themselves as part of their work was exciting and all generous. With the focus on interdisciplinary practices the majority of artists had some performative element to their presentations.

artists info can be found here.




Images from A.K. Burns 4 screen installation A Smeary Spot.

Consisting of 3 large projection screens, a monitor with rolling credits, script/poster handout and sand/resin sculpture. A Smeary Spot created a dark staged environment for an audience to explore the non-linear film presented. The film was a great example of a work which shifted between Theatrical and cinematic environments which distinctive scenes of the film presented to us. As i wandered the gallery i was invited to coast through with scattered office swivel chairs. This was an interesting detail and somehow blurred the borders more. Traditionally with theatre being a fixed viewpoint and galleries allowing one to walk around or from close to distanced view of the work. I found this emphasised the fragmented, cut and paste workings of the text written for the work and the structure of the film, allowing time to become less dominant but desire and visual cues to take more dominance.




Two performances working with choreography featured in the festival I want to focus on are: Leilas Death by Ali Chahrour (Lebanon) and Still Life by Morgan Thorson (U.S.A.). Two very different performances however both deal with time as a tool to explore performances relationships to death.

Leilas Death, focuses on and uses Leila a professional mourner from Lebanon, working with the aesthetics around the Shiite mourning rituals.

Morgan Thorsons 5 hour durational dance Still Life incorporates 7+ dancers, unfixed charcoal drawings and chalk paint set inside Portland Museum of Art. The performance explores grief in relation to a human death and environmental disaster.

Apart from the duration of the piece Still Life, the two performances use of repetition leads to interesting questions for my practice around what its purpose is. Within Still Life, repetition leads to deterioration of the drawings, and bodies (Something I noticed on my second visit with two of the performers wearing ankle supports). The repetition and duration also leads to an accumulation of markings or notchs, as the performers mark off or count sections of the performance, giving presence to moments passed and lost. In ways it seems like these markings were signifiers without translation, or transfers of lost energy turned to chalk.

charcoal drawings +action+lighting+ music -> dust, sweat and calcium. (an Earth drying up?)

Leilas Death was one hour long set in a traditional theatre space on stage it featured 2 musicians, Leila (the mourner) and  Ali Chahrour performing the phrases of movement taken from these mourning rituals. a delicate upward spiral is performed by Leila with a scarf hanging over Her neck to Her hands. This simple but nuanced and embodied performance repeats over a layering of traditional strings and drums incorporating distortion and loop pedals. The repetition of the spiral by Leila is constant, focused yet still human, it reminds me of reading about Goat Islands performances in relation to Deleuzes idea on differential presence. The Observances of Muharram in Shiite Islam last 40 days in total. The continued repetition of the spirals which both Leila and Ali perform in succession form this meditative space, as an audience member my experience of time is intensified, progression in the piece happens musicians move into images of a family with Ali yet it is outwith Leilas own time as she continues to turn. On one hand She is preparing the body to leave from on state of being to another, the second being Her own profession is a trade that is dying too. The space created by her allows a slow release, an empathetic attempt to share a different perception before leting go and understanding your own. I feel this also relates to similar section where Ali begins slapping the ground kneeling, the rhythm the same intensity and power given grows, it feels like a attempt to share a resonance with the audience and those witnessing .he is giving his energy, his body to the ground where they a body will be placed (in this case his own).

Empathy in time and space and materials is something that has been slowly gaining more involvement in my work.The aesthetics of much of the movement involved in Still Life felt representational of ceremony, ecstacy and panic involved in death and emphasising being alive ( ‘its. Still Life’, as Thorson emphasised in the public conversation) . The movement within Leilas Death contained difference to the real events but the performance studied the rituals aesthetics and put them to test in an intensley affective exploration of embodying and engaging with death.

I will finish this post with an account from Matthew Goulish of Goat Island discussing a scene from The Sea & Poison (1998).

For example, what is earth? A terrain, not a territory. A place where a bean might grow. Therefore if I become a place where a bean might grow, might I not become the earth? What do I need? Soil, water, light, music, and a bean. He places these ingredients atop his head and waits. A man sits near him and composes a letter. Instead of becoming the earth, he has become a houseplant. An exhausted couple begins dancing to his music, which has generated a dancelike environment. He wants a drink and yells for one. He has forgotten his quest to become the earth. He has discovered the difference between the earth and the human: distractability. The earth remembers; the human forgets. If I did the performance perfectly, would the bean grow?

(Goulish in Goat Island 1999b: n.p.)