This past week has be one where I have allowed myself to immerse myself in more ‘doing’ in order to connect with my thoughts, opposed to previous weeks where thinking and research has been my priority hoping that it would lead to action. It has actually proved to be successful- I am feeling much more connected and in control (to a certain degree) of my practice. I realise that in previous weeks I had been taking so much information on board, and there had been so much critical analysis going on that I hadn’t allowed myself time to percolate my thoughts and digest the information.
Working with the hair again and doing something with such a slow repetitive process such as attaching individual hairs to the tulle underwear have meant that I have reconnected to the meditative part of my practise that I had been missing. Ideas and understanding of my thoughts and position in relation to what I have been thinking conceptually seem to clarify when completing these type of tasks.
With regards to the visual aspect of the underwear there is something about them that I really like. I am unsure of how much hair I should attach and so I have decided to make several, all with varying amounts of hair- similar to the variety of pubic hair styles that are out there!! The transparent quality of the tulle adds an interesting dynamic to the work- It seems to create a void where the body would be. A space to be filled, maybe with your own body in mind? I realise absence of the body seems to be returning in my work.
I have also picked up the gouache paints again and played with making stain like marks. This helped me to connect with the way that the body and the materiality of the body can be communicated through materials that aren’t directly from the body. Using Perylene Maroon as inspired by Imran Quereshi the paint seems very reminiscent of blood- something that seems to help me connect with taboos associated with the female body, (something that seems to take primary position within my explorations and considerations currently.)
Exploration in Gouache.
During our group tutorial I discussed these works, but also raised the point that I feel that until I finally experience the performative side of my work that I won’t feel that it is a resolved part of my practice. It will be a question that will dominate my thoughts. Judit raised the question of what do I hope to learn by doing the performance? I have thought about this, and I suppose I won’t entirely know this until I have done it. I think I hope to understand what it feels like to explore an action in real space and real time with the viewer immediately present. It might be that I decide that once I have done it that I have ‘got it out of my system’ and no longer feel the need to use performance in my current practice; or it might be that it leads to a ‘eureka’ moment where a new area of my practice is revealed to me. As a group everyone seemed to agree with me that I needed to go ahead and do a test.
It was suggested that I might want to consider doing the action in a private space and then have a live stream projected to a public space within the college. When I considered this I felt that that would just be avoiding the public performance further and that it wouldn’t actually resolve any of the questions or curiosities I have. I have avoided this for long enough, putting yet another screen between myself and the audience will not resolve anything.
And so, I am at the point where I am planning a test performance. I have decided to redo the Hand Stitched work. It is a work that I am familiar with, I am aware of the logistics and the how-to’s; and so as a result of this I will be able to focus on the actual process of performance without having to worry about unpredictability of an action. I need to make this first experience as easy on myself as possible! I am thinking that if I do this action in a set room it is unlikely that many people will go out of their way to come to see me- art students tend to be busy making art! I am keen to explore the idea of doing this action in a transition space. Whether it is in the lifts, on the landing, in a corridor. Either way a space which will have lots of passers by. Where people will be passing quite close to me and so will be able to see the detail of my action. I also like the idea of people seeing me performing the action of stitching, and then a few hours later pass by and see me still there. The idea of experience of time being illuminated through my practice is one that seems to reoccur, and one that I would like to resonate with the viewer through my work- hence the durational aspect of a lot of the work I make. I hope to actually face this performance situation head on at some point during this coming week- hopefully Thursday.
I realise that part of what makes me hesitant when I talk about performance with others is that there is an expectation that I will potentially be committing to performance art as my medium. But do we really need to commit to a single method of exploration? Can’t we be sculptors and performers? Is it not just a case of using a variety of methods to explore a single concept or line of enquiry? Looking at the work of Poppy Jackson and Helena Goldwater brought me comfort in relation to this commitment issue! Seeing that they have a practice that involves performance and painting seemed to allow me to give myself permission to not place myself in a box.
Red Feelers. 2012