You are on page 1of 7

where, which.

Is, are, can,
It might go something like this:

You arrive in the foyer.

have, did, does, if, was,
You wait in the foyer.

The purpose-built fall-out, architectural overspill. Propping up the bar.
The why, how, when,
Drinking tea. Chatting. The in-between performance, purpose, action
and thought. The place where the why, how, when and where can come
together, or be left hanging…. There’s room here.

By Rachel Lois Clapham and Alex Eisenberg
You leave the foyer.

You return to the foyer.

You wait in the foyer.
Something comes up in conversation whilst we’re waiting; in what way

East End Collaborations 2009, Queen Mary University
are we being asked questions? Good question. Now uttered, it sits in the
foyer in-between us, in between the work. It’s a graphic all curved and
shapely, a pregnant ¿una pregunta? But heavy. The sheer weight of it forces
holes into things, yawning chasms appear in the standard issue linoleum
floor. We struggle to avoid falling into them. To question, then, is to fall;
from grace, from the moment, from the work, from one’s self.

...In what way are we being asked questions? The question still hangs there
in the room like a bloody big elephant. Tusks, teeth, trunk. The elephant
speaks, she tells us in plain English – because she’s an English elephant -
that she might have the grammatical appearance of a question but in this
case she is something else. She is a critical judgment disguised as a question.
Something a bit more tricksy, maybe, but equally weighty, equally loaded.
And what she wants is a response but not an answer, not a full stop. She’s
calling for something with a bit more….room.

You leave the foyer.

Yoko Ishiguro1 Occupied2 Male and female toilets3 Usually I would use the urinal
but I am forced to ‘go’ in a cubicle by a Yoko, who is dressed in a panda costume4
Durational, over the whole day – this is an occupation after all and it is difficult to
Artist name1 Title of work2
occupy quickly5 There are people and objects and there is this panda but I need to
‘go’ – this is the main thing on my mind. And so I forge a direct path towards the
cubicle – as if to say to the panda, “this is also my toilet”. There are other people in Setting3 Audience4 Duration5
the toilet, people who are not there to go to the toilet. I begin to ‘go’6 I am aware that
my feet can be seen from the gap at the bottom of the cubicle7 Relived and steadied, I
begin to compute the multitude of objects that are colonizing the toilet space: a singing
doll, toy soldiers arranged strategically on the floor, toilet paper stuck to the walls
The beginning6 Feet7 Objects8
explaining the definition of an occupation, clothes on hangers hanging from cubicle
doors and other paraphernalia of a life condensed into a suitcase8 Yoko is Japanese, she
is not from the UK9 Usual toilet sounds: water, flushing, air freshener being dispensed
alongside a doll singing this high pitched digitized tune10 We do not talk to each other
Origin9 Noise10 The words11
– there are virtually no words. Male toilets in particular are spaces where conversation

Why12 Did13 How14 The middle15
is kept to a minimum and despite the obvious intrusion of the panda and her stuff, this
convention is still difficult to break11 The public-ness of the toilet has now given way to
the occupation – the toilet has become Yoko’s space – it’s as if we need her permission
to talk, as if we are now intruders12 Did anybody use the urinal?13 How did they?14
It happens to me without me knowing, confirming that this is the sort of occupation
that happens by stealth. No guns, no tanks but instead something quiet, smaller. This Face16 Hands17 Fiction18 What
intrusion that happens even when you are not there15 I turn, undo the lock and open
the door to the cubicle – and my suspicion that I was being watched is confirmed, as
Yoko (the panda) is standing right there, staring at me – her face still as our eyes meet,
surrounded by the head-gear of her ridiculously cute panda costume – a face-off of
does she/he do?19 A book20
sorts16 I wash my hands but this most everyday of actions is complicated now. I realize

A painting21 Something big22
what I have done (pissed in her home) and washing my hands seems that it could add
further insult to what is already a difficult situation and so it becomes impossible17 I
know that this is a performance - Yoko wears a costume, she doesn’t really live in toilets,
she is playing and un-playing things out. But the illusion facilitates the establishment
of a temporary autonomous zone, where, for a short while, the rules don’t apply and I
find myself fictionalizing the rules of the toilet and instead playing by Yoko’s rules (the Something small23 A question24
un-real)18 Take up residence in toilets19 ‘Life a Users Manual’, by Georges Perec, 197820
Japanese abstract painting of paint21 Occupying a country22 Occupying a toilet23 What’s
the difference between occupying a country and occupying a toilet?24 That moment at
the end of the night when you need to go to the toilet because you are about to go on
The end25
your journey home. Now Yoko has cleaned up – the occupation is over25
Siân Robinson Davies1 Disguised As Things2 A black box studio - 70 seats – on
Artist name1 Title of work2 Setting3
Audience4 Duration5 The beginning6 Feet7
Objects8 Origin9 Noise10 The words11 Why12
Did13 How14 The middle15 Face16 Hands17
Fiction18 What does she/he do?19 A book20
A painting21 Something big22 Something
the left hand side we can see the technician behind a lighting desk3 Sitting facing the
stage, sitting close to the person next to you, some people are sitting on the stairs4 30
minutes. Relatively long periods with nothing on the stage – a bending sense of time
and a lingering duration5 The beginning is the ending, some sort of reversal – it starts
with a bow and the giving of flowers to the audience - the instruction is: throw the
flowers onto the stage at the ‘right’ moment6 We see some feet wearing a lampshade - a
domestic mask7 A lamp, a bird house, a table, some cups - simply presented and always
in relation to the body – this far more unpredictable and unstable object8 ‘The building

blocks of language,’ she said much later, after she left the stage9 Very quiet contrasted
with the noise of struggle, the noise of failure – a particular type of noise which
reverberates throughout the entire studio, perhaps throughout the entire world?10 Big
placards – titles, which in their handwritten simplicity contribute to a(n un)certain
move away from words, a reduction11 because of the stage space, this black box12 Did
you expect it to turn out in this way?13 How different it is performing on a stage to,

small23 A question24 The
say, a toilet? The stage space with it’s conventions and inescapable intensification of
whatever occurs there14 Standing in the middle of the stage now, on a low table, Sian
is gently elevated off the floor and balances on one foot whilst holding up as at least 5
or 6 china cups by various parts of her body15 This time her face is not covered, full of
concentration and tinged with some fear, it draws us in16 In a balancing act such as this
hands become very important – stretched out, trying to grasp the air – but on the stage,
there really is nothing to hold onto – you can’t hold onto time, can you?17 Since each
image is followed by a relatively long amount of time where there are no performers
on the stage – just some space - the gesture that has just occurred has room to linger
and as it does I build my own logic out of the events, in my own time. I begin to create
a narrative18 Try, struggle, fail, repeat19 'Abc's',by Melissa Torres, 200420 A photograph
of Philippe Petit balancing on a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974 – look how
his hands are as steady as the giant buildings themselves21 From behind the curtain,
where we can’t see her, Sian slowly pulls a white wire off the stage22 A small moment,
perhaps something not even intended (an accident) becomes elevated because of the
theatre, the theatron – the place where we (can) see (almost) everything23 How do you
work towards the unspectacular?24 A bow is taken, the ending evokes the beginning
again. Theatrical conventions - flowers are thrown and we clap together25
Simon Raven1‘Incarnation’2 The front lawn outside Queen’s Building on Mile End
Road3 Any flotsam and jetsom passing down the road4 Two hours but I think he might Artist name1 Title of work2
have ended sooner5 I was there at the beginning, well, not right at the beginning…
He was stood there very still in his suit, in the centre of the grass. I watched him for a
bit then went over…We chatted. He kept looking up at the sky, as if he was expecting
something to happen. Not sure what. I couldn’t tell if I was distracting him or not6
Setting3 Audience4 Duration5
Whitish blue, cold and wet, the soles covered in condensed milk7 Umbrella, shabby
dark suit, socks, blue plastic bag, metal plate, condensed milk, towel8 Man stands in
condensed milk for 2 hours. Or not?9 BEEP, BEEP. ‘Oi’ NEEE NORRR NEEE NORRR
The beginning6 Feet7 Objects8
NEEE NORRR. ‘…and then I said, yes but do you really think that, or are you just
being spiteful innit?’ ‘…Oh look. What’s he doin’ stood there?’10 Hi. Is it OK to talk to
you? Yes. What’s that? It’s condensed milk. Oh… The metal plate and the condensed Origin9 Noise10 The words11
milk, is that a reference to Indian food? Not necessarily. Oh. It looks like it might rain.

Why12 Did13 How14 The middle15
That’s fine I have this [Simon shows the umbrella inside the plastic bag]11 A fish12
Go to the coyote and buy an apple13 Start running the bananas14 I wasn’t there later.
Somebody told me he had the towel over his head and was crouched down. He was
still talking to people that approached him15 Smiley, relaxed, stubbly16 One of them
was holding his blue plastic bag with his umbrella, towel and socks in it. I liked that.
I liked that everything he had he could hold. It felt important that the metal plate was
Face16 Hands17 Fiction18 What
the only thing that was touching the ground. And that he was so…mobile. The other…I
can’t remember. Just by his side I think17 …‘It was much pleasanter at home,’ thought
poor Alice, ‘when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered
does she/he do?19 A book20
about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole—and
yet—and yet18 He is literally in/carnation (milk). I don’t really want to know anything
else. There’s a place for non-sense. Although this harks back to aesthetics and where A painting21 Something big22
are we with that now? It’s come good again just to like stuff, or not? Oh good19 'Alice

Something small23 A question24
in Wonderland', Lewis Carroll, 196720 Rene Magritte, ’Son of Man’, 196421 BIG. The
three B’s of European artistic madness, Beuys, Beckett and Brecht22 Small23 Audience
question - ‘What was the difference between the bits under the towel and you talking
to the audience?’ ‘Why come out of the performance persona like that?’ Answer –
‘bellybutton’24 1 Simon Raven, 2 Incarnation, 3 The front lawn outside Queen's Building
on Mile End Road……25
The end25
Alexander Bede1 SCRUB2 black box studio, lights illuminating white sheets on
Artist name1 Title of work2 Setting3
Audience4 Duration5 The beginning6 Feet7
Objects8 Origin9 Noise10 The words11 Why12
Did13 How14 The middle15 Face16 Hands17
Fiction18 What does she/he do?19 A book20
A painting21 Something big22 Something
the floor, white table, white cloths, a pot of jet-black ink, a black coffin stuffed with
white netting, and Alex (Black) in bright white trousers and vest stood centre stage3
30 of us stood around in a small circle4 Fifteen minutes although it felt much, much
longer5 He transfers black ink into the pots, careful to spill black on the nice, clean,
white sheets. He talks slowly about scrubbing, about wiping off dirt. About wanting to
be clean. He scrubs his arm, scrapes it slowly, methodically. It must hurt. He dips the
white cloths in the black ink and the two together don’t make grey. Instead, the wet

black soothes, cleanses and stains in turns6 Black, bare, soft and wide poking out of the
bottom of his trousers7 A large knife, a bottle of industrial bleach oven cleaner, a wire
scrubbing pad8 Of doubt. Of blackness that might be dirty, wrong or different and (my)
whiteness as clean. And all the shades of grey (brown?) in between9 Scratch. Scratch.
Scratch. Coarse abrasion of wire and skin, two things, two sounds, that should never

small23 A question24 The
go together. A Caribbean accent asking us to scrub10 Scrub, I need to scrub, I need to
be clean. Is anyone gonna’ help me scrub?11 No-one takes up his not so kind offer12
He took ME out of the audience. He compared his arm (Black) to mine (White), me
glowing even whiter under the lights. His arm. I can tell you it was raw, blood staring
out in little pimples under the newly scraped skin. Not ready to run yet, frozen stiff
in shock13 To willingly hurt yourself against your self14 Still scrubbing. Scraping with
the knife up and down his arm. He sprays then scrubs bleach into his skin with a wire
pad. Later I clean my kitchen surfaces and think of Alex’s poor arm15 Black, hidden
by dreadlocks16 Black, busy scrubbing17 Alex worked with young Black kids, one of
whom had self-harm marks on his arm. He asked this kid ‘Why do you hurt yourself?’
to which the kid replied, ‘I want to play with the white kids’18 Performs Black but also
White. Problematises both. Makes us complicit in that problem19 'The Human Stain',
Philip Roth, 200120 Scrub is an Rorschach ink painting21 The pain22 The pain23 Did he
need to talk quite so much? I needed to know that it did hurt him, but why?24 Packs the
white-soiled set into the black coffin and leaves. Stage left25

Artist name1 Title of work2

Setting3 Audience4 Duration5

The beginning6 Feet7 Objects8

Origin9 Noise10 The words11

Why12 Did13 How14 The middle15

Face16 Hands17 Fiction18 What

Poppy Jackson1 Untitled2 Low ceilinged lecture room divided diagonally3 Sat on does she/he do?19 A book20
the floor4 Digestible5 She presses play - sound of birds6 Bare feet hover over the iced
cake and then gently press down – cake oozes, cake breaks, cake gets stuck to feet7
Four or five small black wooden sticks (broken) ghetto blaster, blanket, cake, candles,
bunting8 Englishness9 Crack, crack, crack, crack……the sticks breaking through the
A painting21 Something big22
bird song10 NO WORDS11 Why no title?12 She is standing on the cake that I wanted
to eat13 A crushing feeling, worse than the crack of the black wooden sticks14 In the
middle now a depressed and destroyed cake I screw my face up Delicately wraps
15 16 Something small23 A question24
the bunting round her hands - hands become elongated by bunting, red juice oozes
over body17 Becoming a bird18 Nothing more than necessary19 ‘The Home Expert’ by
Dr D.G. Hessayon, 198720 Silver Jubilee commemoration china21 Big cake22 Small foot23
What is it that is so good about making a mess?24 I could have had more (cake)25
The end25
East End Collaborations is an annual platform for young London based Live Art artists organised by the Live Art Development Agency and
Queen Mary University. Participating artists - 2009: Oreet Ashery, Angela Bartram, Alexander C. Bede, Ben Connors & Holly Darton, Richard
DeDomenici, Sheila Ghelani, Susannah Hewlett, Helena Hunter, Yoko Ishiguro, Poppy Jackson, Rachel Mars, Martin O’Brien, Jiva Parthipan,
Lindsey Price & Francesca Millican-Slater, Simon Raven, Siân Robinson Davies, Georgia Rodger, Jungmin Song, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Lisa

Copyright Rachel Lois Clapham and Alex Eisenberg (2009)

Related Interests