Tag Archive for 're-enactment'

Re-enact, repeat, reiterate, re-perform – a practitioner’s chat

Join us for an afternoon’s discussion about re-enactment and related practices at Westspace, Melbourne Saturday 9 July 2-4 pm

If you make work or think about work that connects with re-enactment, repetition, reiteration and re-performance, or you’re just curious, please come along.

Last November in Brisbane a group of artists, curators and academics spent an afternoon talking re-enactment, repetition and the like as part of an art history conference (more about that in an earlier post on this blog). Several of us will be in Melbourne to listen in at PSi#22, the international performance studies conference and we plan a follow-up chat to discuss our work further, mull over new thoughts and generally reflect on these ideas as we work with them in our practices. We welcome new participants to our conversation.

Continue reading ‘Re-enact, repeat, reiterate, re-perform – a practitioner’s chat’

Tues 10 Feb (Wo)man With Mirror, notes from Louise

The discussion had two starters. One was the Val conversation re-cap which appears below. Secondly, Lucas discovered the curious picture plane fracture that the mirror introduces in the photos taken in the garden in our last meeting. The mirror appears in each photo of the measuring-up images. It is striking only in one where the mirror is completely surrounded by the rest of the garden. It seems that the mirror reveals a fragment that you know is there but can’t pre-visualise hence its dynamism.

General discussion of mirrors and works using mirrors followed. Discussion covered Learning from Seedbed, a work that gave the audience a physical experience of actually being under a version of the platform.

Ideas that came up:
– Give the audience the experience of actually re-enacting the work. Film the source footage with a group of people. Present the footage on long looped S8s in the gallery or present the footage on video. have mirrors there for the audience to use to enact the work for themselves and their companions in the gallery. Give them the ability to have visual ‘foldback’ of what they do when they re-enact.
– Invite participants to work with a parent or a child to make enactments. Explore if this adds the generational reveal we observed in Guy’s Brisbane performance.
– As my mother was here getting ready to take the plane back to New Zealand, we worked with her to actually make a source footage version that I hope to try a performance with.
– After working with Val, we realise that we need to work with one pair at a time so that we can teach the work in the same way that Guy so generously passed it on.

Conversation with Valerie
Louise took the train up from Canberra with her mother Valerie this morning. On the train, discussion about re-enacting Man With a Mirror took place.

Notes from the train conversation with Valerie:
She described our project as translating a watching experience into a doing experience. She drew in the Degas exhibition she saw in Canberra on Monday. She described Degas’ process of moving from copying the reality of others to depicting his own reality but keeping a mimetic approach. She commented that our process was in a sense the reverse – we start with the evidence of the original work and we try to build up a picture of the work but we’re also looking particularities that crop up because of where, when and who we are and we’re looking to accentuate these. I’m not quite sure how this is the reverse of Degas now, but at the time, it seemed obvious.

Val and I also had a discussion about the working method Lucas and I have used with these re-enactments, particularly preparation – that in the past we’ve looked at limitations as a resource, taking the approach of working with what we have in terms of (scarce) time, money and information.  With Man With a Mirror, we have a great deal of information from Guy. The exhibition means we have some financial resources and therefore time. While we haven’t set out with the intention of doing things differently, it’s my observation that these resources mean we’re increasing our attentiveness to each step in the process which seems to have the effect of making it freer.

Measuring Up / Looking Back / Chewing Over

louise measuring
Measuring Up:
Illustrating this comment and this page of sketches and calculations, I’m posting these photos to show how we worked out the relative dimensions of the mirror/screen. Not very complicated! Lucas’ armspan (188cm) was assumed to be similar to Guy’s – thus, we reasoned, Lucas would use a “full-size” mirror of 24X32 inches (61X81.3cm). Louise’s armspan (163cm) means that, following the ratio, her cut-down mirror should measure 70X52.5cm

measuring armspans
Looking Back:
However, looking back at these photos (especially the one immediately above this text) I’m now struck by something a bit more interesting to think about.

Check out the mirror which is leaning up against my leg. There is the illusion of continuity between the “real” grass and the mirror grass, as if grassy space continues unbroken “through” the plane of the mirror. So when your eye travels up the mirror, the reflection of the chair comes as something of a surprise. I find it confusing and visually compelling, like a mind-bender puzzle. To my eye, the horizontal space of the grass seems to be prised up and over my leg. As if it’s been collaged (or photoshopped) on top of the portion of the photo where I am standing.

louise with screen
And then, this photo, with Louise holding the mirror/screen, with the “screen” side towards us, has a completely different visual effect. If you squint your eyes, it is as if the rectangular area of the screen has been sliced out of the picture altogether, giving the impression that you are seeing “through the page” to the blank void on the other side.

These twin/opposite visual effects (collage and excision) started happening for us, without our even trying, just in the shooting of a few documentation photos. Later, when we started to experiment with Louise and her mum, the visual puzzles began to pile up more…

louise and val
The above photo exhibits the same illusion that happens in Guy’s performance of Man with Mirror: the white square reflected in the mirror looks like a small object held by two hands – one Louise’s “real” hand, the other Val’s reflected hand…

minties wrapper

Chewing Over:
Chewing over these thoughts, it occurred to me that this Man with Mirror re-enactment project presents more opportunities than we had originally imagined. Mirrors are incredible tools. They’re so ubiquitous in everyday life that I think I usually forget about them, just use them without realling “seeing them” for themselves.

When we started with the idea of re-enacting (or re-making) Guy Sherwin’s piece, we watched Guy perform it, studied the video documents, and mirrors were re-enchanted for us. We were able to see mirrors once more, with “fresh eyes”, as the amazing artefacts/tools that they are. But it wasn’t until we made our own mirrors, and started mucking around with them in the back yard, that we realised how much fun they can be. Now, a sort of transformation of consciousness is happening – I am beginning to see mirrors everywhere. Last night, in a Thai restaurant, I was given a Mintie after dinner, and the above drawing on the wrapper leapt out at me!