Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Rag Factory show (in)visible exchange: set up and reflections

photos are the set up and behind the scenes. due to the private nature of the encounters, this aspect is not documented.

Kiss Me Miss Me at Rag Factory. (in)visible exchange. An experiment in using scores for action handed to others to facilitate and personalise, taking place in and around the public and behind-the-scenes spaces. Following on from The Darkroom at Duckie, I wanted to try out handing over a score to see what happens, to people who have enjoyed my work. In my experience, most Live Art practice is devised and presented by the artist them self, with the more directorial role collapsed into the whole work process, and thus owned and facilitated live entirely by them. With this idea of handing over the art score to others, it raised interesting ideas about how much I was to direct the piece, it was not to be theatre. How much to guide and set the tone, and how much to let the facilitators find their own way? The whole handing over the work to others centered on the fact that what we keep in our pockets is often a universal thing. The work allowed mechanisms to enable the exploration of that real human connection coming from what at first may appear to be trivial, empowering a positive yet temporal (heightened through the elements of photo mortality) sense of exchange between what had first appeared to be, two complete strangers.

Co-performer-facilitators were Kerry Andrew, Lucy Thane, Madaleine Trigg, and Katherine Maxwell-Cooke. My role here was setting up the piece in situ, and then running through a score as an encounter with my performer-facilitators (as the build for the show was behind schedule, needed to spend most of the day making the space. This was exhausting, and nerve racking, I had very little time to negotiate the flow through the space even if it had just been me doing it, but I had the added pressure of having to then ensure my facilitators were ok. )

I found this method very interesting, and very mixed. I am extremely grateful to my facilitators for taking part. Some of my facilitators had rehearsed this in my shed at home, and we'd been through Q&A, and this meant that some were feeling more confident, had felt they were able to get into their stride with it well, others the time was very rushed, and so i feel i was at fault with expecting too much from people, they simply hadn't had time to establish themselves. To me the preciousness and secrecy was extremely important,and this element was upheld to a greater and lesser degree depending on how comfortable/relaxed the facilitator felt with working in that way, which meant my feelings about it ranged from being elated to a little sad. One person said they didn't need to do the work to have an intimate encounter with a stranger, they enjoyed talking to strangers all the time, which for me has shown me that they didn't really understand the nature of the work like i thought they did. They also felt it was my work, and should remain entirely so, what do i think of that, is that true, it comes from the way i read photography, no? Should I have done this experiment? What had been gained by using others and what lost? My basic rules were a scored sequence of actions e.g. the photographic, but it was up to them what they talked about with regards to the contents of pockets, and I didn't want them to share that conversation with anyone, it was to remain entirely private. Should I have set more 'boundaries?' Does this mean I needed to adapt a directorial role for this piece if I didn't feel comfortable with some of what happened? I also felt extremely exposed and detached from the work, meeting participants when they exhibited their photogram at the end, and having an odd, quite removed conversation with them, when normally I don't ever see them again, let alone in a post-encounter situation. Very weird. Maybe if I had had encounters alongside the others it wouldn't have felt so clinical for me. Isn't this piece about building up trust, a network, a sense of community between the performer-facilitators? i remember a friend who was collaborating with someone in an extremely intimate way spending a lot of time doing yoga and massage together, learning to understand each other more physically and emotionally.i think some kind of equivalent level of personal engagement could be of benefit, learning to understand the ethos behind the work. quite what that looks like i will have to think on.......

I need to talk more to the facilitators and pick their brains about it working on a larger scale, or if it could. i think i was aiming to work towards an entire site full of nooks and crannies engaging people in hidden encounters, or the idea of a large communal sharing with multiple facilitators present in the moment....what they might look and feel like i don't yet know..........

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