Tempting Failure CIC 2016. 21st-29th July. London.
I attended Tempting Failure for the almost the full duration of the festival, only missing day 1 . I performed on 25th and 28th at Hackney showrooms. I was also able to immerse myself in the rest of the program and I found it to be a strange, but wonderful experience. This was the first time that I had attended a performance festival, (I have to keep reminding myself that I am still very new to this world!) and I found the experience to be so incredibly valuable in many many aspects. I learnt so so much. By looking at the work others I was able to understand my own feelings / thoughts about performance so much better than before. It has, (and still is) taken me a while to be able to begin to process the experience. I just felt like I needed time and space to let the dust settle before I could sit and sift through my reflections. I think it is because my head was so full that it almost became blocked….to the point where I didn’t know truly what I felt about anything. Having time and space has meant that I have been able to reflect without the intense emotional residue of witnessing so many intense experiences.
So, now to begin sifting… sorting… reflecting. I intend on publishing reflections on TF in several blog posts opposed to trying to fit it in to one lengthy post. There are so many elements to my experience which have impacted my research on performance that I want to give each one space to be considered and digested.
For me the experience of the performance festival reached further than the boundaries of the festival itself. I stayed at Poppy Jackson and Alicia Raddage’s house- the house where I had stayed and experienced Poppy’s transformational workshop a few months back. That house holds so many intense memories for me. Memories of releasing my inhibitions and embracing my passion for using my body in my work. That workshop cemented so many of my thoughts… and also introduced so many new ones. Needless to say that space is an important one for me. It is filled with rich creative energy. It felt good to be back there! There were other incredible guests such as Esther Neff who also performed at the festival, David LaGaccia of Incident Mag New York who was covering the written reviews of the festival, Lisa Stertz who was also writing alongside myself and a few other artists for David’s publication, and Zeirle and Carter who were also staying for the first half of the week. I found it to be an enriching environment where so much was discussed and shared. I can’t help but feel that sharing experiences and discussions is the strongest learning tool there is.
I was fortunate enough to share many conversations with Paul Carter on our journey home every night. We discussed so many elements in relation to performance, and I found his input to be incredibly valuable. Zeirle and Carter have had an incredible continuous career since completing their degree 10 years ago. They come from a fine art background and so I really related to the way that Paul spoke about how sculpture, performance and drawing not being as separate as their titles suggest. I feel so strongly about this, and the limitations of titles and the language of the art world. It felt so good to be able to really dissect this in conversation with Paul. He gave me some incredible advice with regards to going into a performance and how to prepare. He spoke to me about how it is always good to ask yourself, ‘What is the key core idea that is the most important thing that is present in this performance? What is urgent? What HAS to be there for this performance to exist?’ I have often thought about core concepts, but in a slightly different way. For me I always saw them as a sort of lens that I look at the world through. That they are core to me and that they inform my thinking. By slightly shifting that and questioning what is the most urgent aspect of the performance that needs to be communicated gives clarity and focus in the performance. Going into my first performance I really strongly kept this in mind going into the action. I focussed and channeled what I felt was urgent into my actions and I found that it helped me to keep the intention present within the action consistently. In fact this notion of urgency and what is compulsory has been in my mind when working in my practice since. I am so thankful to both Paul Carter and Alexander Zeirle for all of the conversation and encouragement and support that they offered during their time at the house. I feel that the conversations we had helped me to gain a level of clarity in my practice which I had felt I had lost.
I think MFA and constant questioning and challenging of my practice has meant that I have become uncertain. I initially felt that this uncertainty was a negative thing, when in fact uncertainty isn’t always bad. I realise that a degree of uncertainty means that my practice has been moving forward into new and unexpected areas. I remember leaving my degree a year ago feeling so confident, like I knew my practice through and through. I have felt so uncertain through this past year, but I realise now that this is what true research feels like. True exploration is full of the unknown. If I were to know all the answers in my practice then there would be no discoveries… no development, just a safe place with only serves the purpose of massaging the part of my ego that likes to know everything! Carter’s notion of what is urgent and the reaffirming of the core concepts has meant that I have been thinking about those in relation to my practice. By asking myself these questions I have found an anchor for my practice. This means that I can branch out and test new ideas, but I will always have my anchor to root myself to. I imagine that this will mean that I will be able to feel secure in uncertainty whilst also managing to keep a sense of focus and intent in the actions I do. For me this is probably one of the most important tools for the artist whose practise is research based.