On Saturday the 13
November I travelled to Bristol to You and Your Work 8, anannual festival of Live Art. The focus for this year’s event was Transient living andit included film screenings, dance, installation, participatory works, one on oneperformance and readings.
The festival started with ‘The Museum of Floating Objects’ by Neil Callaghan andSimone Kenyon. Boat dwellers from Bristol Harbour side worked with the artists tochoose an object that represented them. The viewers walked around, as all theobjects took up the centre of the room. Some read from a detailed list whichidentifies the owners of the objects and in some cases are accompanied by ananecdote. People point and converse, seeing what has been show to them and it isas if the boat dwellers are in direct communication with the viewers without thetwo meeting face to face.
I’ve been lucky to book a place for a one-to- one performance called Jarideh byTania El Khoury. When I arrive at the table in front of me is a very beautifulpainted lipped, dark eyed young lady in a rain Mac with a scarf around her head.She talks quietly and soon I am caught up in a situation that makes me feelvulnerable and confused. I don’t know what to do but it feels as though it wasreally up to me to make this work and in failing I would face grave consequences.During the performance I was frustrated by the lack of information I was given. Iexpected things to be clearer and to be more ‘user friendly’ and perhaps theycould have been, but would I have still felt the real feelings of pressure, confusion,self consciousness, paranoia and panic? I expect not.
Back in the safety of the gallery I made my way back to the dark studio whereSaffy Setochy and Reynir Hutber was about to begin their multimedia dance piececalled Towards Stillness. The audience gathered outside and entered together intoa darkened room where there were no seats just a dancer in white with her back tous and the low noise of an electronic sound. At either end of the room a largescreen with the same simple graphic image was being played on both. Theaudience continued to move their head in time with the action or stillness onscreen as the dancer imitated the actions. Then suddenly the image changed againand it was a live feed of a film of the dancer in the room, an also us. And that ishow she left us.
Before I left I took part in a short performance by Australian artist MalcolmWhittacker called a Lovers Discourse, where I was asked to read love letters andinstant message dialogues from people in Sydney Australia to people in Bristol. Theartist who was at the time in Australia had left it to the people of YAYW8 to findreaders and present the work. It was an odd experience to read the personalsentiments of one individual to another to a live audience especially as I had noprevious part in the artwork.
It was there that I discovered the Reading Room at Arnolfini. I plucked through thebook spines to find titles on a whole range of live art work. I browsed for a whileand drank in the images. The whole day had shown me a huge range of approaches