Montage, Collage and Bricolage; The assemblage of ’Incorporating’ 1998/1999 _______________________________________________________

Roland Conrad Miller MA DipDram

Thesis submitted for the award of a PhD at De Montford University May 2000 in two volumes

Volume I – written text

Abstract
In volume I the text deals with the development of a piece of public performance art – ‘Incorporating’ – given over a period of four days in September 1999 by Roland Miller in Sheffield. Certain questions are posed at the beginning of the text. The Introduction (pp 2-17) and Autobiographical note (pp 18-24) attempt an overview of how Miller’s early life, education, and subsequent involvement with fellow artist Shirley Cameron contributed to his current practice of performance art. The questions relate to the spectator’s interpretation of the actions of a performer. A central dilemma arising from non-Semitic, non-narrative, contingent performance in public is the possible conflict between the artist’s intentionality and any meaning attributed to the performance by spectators. Chapters 1 (pp 25-46) on ‘Romanticism and Performance Art’ and 2 (pp 47-57) ‘The artist as perceptive receptacle’ explore aspects of the role of an artist in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the mechanics of performance art, and Miller’s use of the concept ‘postupok’, derived from the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) are discussed in chapter 3 (pp 58-66), which also looks at ‘abjection’ and the grotesque. In chapter 4 (pp 67-83) bricolage and ‘Do-It-Yourself Culture’ are addressed in the context of contemporary culture. Part II covers the documentation of Miller’s performances in 1998, in several Central European countries (chapter 5, pp 84-91). In chapter 6 (pp 92-156) texts that accompanied some performances including ‘Incorporating’ are reprinted. Also included in this chapter is the text of Miller’s lecture The artist as Transmitter in the Contemporary City’ which examines some of an artist’s options in contemporary society (pp 97-119). Volume II contains sets of colour photographs relating to performances between May 1998 (Chişinâu)and September 1999 (Sheffield) with notes. These photographs illustrate the process of the gradual ‘disappearance’ of the performer in an urban context.
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,

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NOTES Contents
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From ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’ Hull, April 1998) to ‘Incorporating’ (Sheffield, September 1999) including performance in Central Euroe, 1998. Reference is made to performances carried out in preceding year, including some of those with Shirley Cameron 2 photographic sites: Chişinãu, Moldova ; Sf. Georghe, Translylvania ; Nové Zamký, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, England. Text: critical appreciations of ‘Incorporating’ by Alex Kelly and Roddy Hunger and the OS Superplan of the ‘Incorporating’ site, scale 1:500.

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Contents VOLUME I
Definitions & Questions Introduction Autobiographical note I Analysis Chapter 1 The importance of Landscape, the value of Low Life: Romanticism and Performance Art The artist as perceptive receptacle Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) Collage and bricolage II Documentation – Synthesis 5 Development of a set of performances, April ’98 to September ’99, including ‘Incorporating’(1) Three texts:(i) (ii) ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor -physiology’ ‘the Artist at Transmitter in the Contemporary City’ 25 47 58 67 46 57 66 83 page 1 2 17 24

18 -

2 3 4

84 92 97 -

91 96 118

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(iii) ‘Incorporating’ Conclusion Written coverage and archival documentation of performance art Work by Cameron and Miller. Bibliography

119 - 155 156 157, 158 159 - 165

Volume II
Photographs (1)

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DEFINITIONS & QUESTIONS
This text attempts to explore the performance art work ‘Incorporating’ in terms of four associated praxes, defined below: DEFINITIONS Montage: Collage: Bricolage: a literary, musical, or artistic composition made up of various elements. an assembly of diverse fragments. do-it-yourself, D.I.Y.

Assemblage: a collection of people or things; a gathering. A three-dimensional collage made from scraps, junk. And odds and ends (eg of paper, cloth, wood, stone, or metal).

These seven questions have emerged during the period of work on ‘Incorporating’ and other performances, 1998-99 QUESTIONS
How does the presence of the actual human body (not its depiction) in a performed art work function? Does this body form an associative link with a spectator, affirming or contradicting his/her perception of self? Are anxieties in the spectator confirmed by perceived pathological states in the performance body? May racial, gender, or other prejudices be validated by the actions of performers? What part does mimetic performance (acting, role play) have in these processes? Does the portrayal of victimhood or vulnerability entertain? Can the voluntary removal of the performer’s body, or the transience of the performer’s actions (and marks) re-direct the gaze of the spectator(s) onto others, or to the context in which the performance has taken place?

Definitions taken from the Longman Dictionary of the English Language, 1984, except ‘bricolage’, which is from Larousse Dictionnaire Français-Anglais, 1990

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Introduction
My period of research (1993 – 2000) has coincided with a significant change in my working life as a performance artist. For approximately twenty-five years, since 1969, I had made my way as a self-employed ‘performer’. The most important pieces of work were made with Shirley Cameron, who was a sculptor and art teacher when I first met her, in wales in 1969. Before that I had been a member of The People Show 1, worked as a lighting designer, a stage director and assistant to the Literary Manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and as a freelance journalist in the Londonbased ‘underground press’. In 1994 I took a job as a full-time lecturer in theatre studies at the University of Huddersfield. Apart from fees for performances and occasional journalism, my income had previously come from a combination of part-time teaching in the Fine Art departments of art schools, and a series of grants from the Arts Council and British Council. This text attempts to shed light on some of the questions (see page 1) that have emerged from performance works carried out over the last three decades and from recent research into the theoretical substructure. The introduction (pp 2-10) covers some of the issues that have prompted the questions. Section I Analysis looks at the strands of theory. Section II Documentation – Synthesis traces the process of making the performances in 1998/99 that culminated in ‘Incorporating’. There is a photographic record of these performances. ‘Incorporating’ was presented as a live ‘Doctoral’ performance in Sheffield, September 1999. Shirley Cameron and I were included in exhibitions such as ’Magic & Strong Medicine’ (Peter Noores Liverpool Project, the Walker Gallery, 1973); ‘Europalia’, Brussels, 1973;‘English Art Today 1960-76’, Milan; ‘Contemporary English Art’ Bregenz, 1977; ‘Scale for Sculpture’ London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton, Swansea, 1978-79; we created specific performance installations for the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1972, ’73, and ’74. We appeared in festivals and at venues in the USA and Canada, in most European countries, including Portugal in 1974 and Poland in 1978. We performed at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (twice) and at the International Cultural Centre, Antwerp (twice).

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We were involved in performance art festivals in many European cities. As well as these art venues and events, we devised work for a number of ‘non-art’ locations: agricultural shows in England and Scotland (’73-’79), youth clubs and community centres, and ‘streets, beaches, forests, parks, ferry-boats, shops, railway-lines’2. Alongside the gallery catalogue notes and art historical essays (Carol Hogben, Norbert Lynton, Caroline Tisdall), occasional pieces of (art) journalism3 dealt with our work. Our work was viewed in and commented on in a range of different circumstances. To theatre audiences and critics we were sometimes too slow, too ‘atmospheric’, and to gallery viewers we could be too ‘theatrical’. In Poland, although we had embarked on a tour (in 1978) that began in the small Teatr Pstrąg in Lodz, the other venues where we performed were art galleries (Gdansk, Lublin, Warsaw) or artists’ ‘meetings’ held in quiet rural locations, away from the prying eyes of the authorities, or in the street. This was the time when Polish society was beginning to shake itself free of communism. Artists from ‘the West’ were allowed into Poland, to demonstrate the ‘free’ liberalism, on both sides of the iron curtain but they were kept under close surveillance. Our first performance in Poland was watched by a government agent, who was heard to mutter as he left the theatre that there was nothing in it for him. We found that in Poland our performances in 1978 were described as ‘parateatainy’. This term seems to have been derived from a Jerzy Grotowski4, and may be translated loosely as ‘beyond theatre’, performances taking place in obscurity, to avoid ideological censorship. It may have been applied to us because we were not part of the mainstream, came from the West, and were thus associated with dissidence. The encouraging aspect of our reception in Poland was the perception that creative work that occupied ground between art and theatre had a legitimacy, albeit in the context of underground, dissident culture. We paid three separate visits to Poland in 1978-79, which we were told was most unusual. Reciprocally, we invited two performance artists, Zbigniew Warpenchowski and Jerzy Beres, and a critic, Andrezej Kostozowski to tour Britain with us in 1979.

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The 1980s were a decade of conflict in British cultural, and other politics5. Cameron and I worked less together. We were both involved in ‘issue-based’ performances, which had to do with gender/feminism, opposition to Thatcherite politics and economics, anti-nuclear and peace campaigns, and towards the end of the decade political satire. We eventually ran out of financial support for our work, perhaps an inevitable consequence of personal and political tensions. I had always believed strongly in the possibility of the full-time ‘profession’ of artist. We had both been involved in artists’ (rights) organizations6. There have been many shifts in the various factors that bear on cultural life in Britain in the last twenty years. Amongst economic changes have been the recognition of non-permanent jobs, the change-over to ‘portfolio’ style work, where self-employed individuals move from one short contract to another. Another change has been the move away from employercontrolled workplaces to forms of ‘home-working’. The development of various forms of electronic information technology has accelerated these and other changes. On a broad scale, the advance of global corporatism in many trade sectors is potentially a huge change. The impact of the market economy has had a considerable effect on local and national politics, and public subsidies for arts activities have been recast to take into account private finance and lottery funds. In Higher Education, the adoption of modular courses seems to have considerably diminished the demand for short-term one-off projects that could be led by free-lance artists. In the 20th Century, artists had become, through the enquiring and sometimes oppositional nature of the modernist movement, active commentators on many aspects of society. In his discussion of the painting Mr and Mrs Andrews by Gainsborough (1727-1788), John Berger says that ‘among the pleasures their portrait gave (them)… was the pleasure of seeing themselves depicted as landowners and this pleasure was enhanced by the ability of oil paint to render their land in all its substantiality.’(Berger, 1972:108) Berger gives his ‘Marxist’ interpretation of the Gainsborough in defiance of contemporary art historians Kenneth (Lord) Clark and Professor Lawrence Gowing. Berger says it is disingenuous of Gowing to claim and Mr & Mrs Andrews are ‘engaged in the philosophic enjoyment of unperverted Nature’ (Berger, 1972: 108).

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He also says that artists no longer have to act as publicists for a capitalist art-patronising class. In a work by the Nigerian/British artist Yinka Shonibare, the figures of Mr and Mrs Andrews from Gainsborough’s portrait have been reproduced in three dimensions, sans heads. It is an example of the ironic deconstruction of British art history by an artist who describes himself as a ‘kind of mixture out of Britain’s history’7. Gainsborough’s depiction of Mr & Mrs Andrews’ heads are reproduced, detached and proprietarily sneering in Berger’s text (p. 107). Shonibare is an artist who comments on the contradictions of the postcolonial world, using various techniques including photography and montage. In one set of photographs he himself is shown as a ‘Victorian Dandy’, surrounded by (white) admirers. Shonibare comments: ‘If we look at an old painting an African would not be central. If he appeared at all it would be a valet or manservant in a corner … Since the modern idea of self has become so integral in art, your gender and sex and race … come to the fore … In the old days, artists were commissioned by patrons and the source of their work was determined by the patrons. We’ve got much more freedom now.’8 The original, landed 18th century art patrons have been replaced by the state-sanctioned multi-cultural postmodernists. Shonibare’s patrons are non-governmental organisations like INIVA9. Apart from the real access to a free means of expression, which usefully highlights multiculturalism, work like Shonibare’s also illustrates the considerable influence of performance on the object-based visual arts. That there were two radically opposed positions on the function of art in the 60s and 70s was made clear to us when we (Cameron & I) were invited to present a performance at an event called the ‘Europalia’ in Brussels in 197110. The Belgian exhibition organisers had wanted to show videos of Berger’s BBC documentary, ‘Ways of Seeing’ (source of the quotation above) in the exhibition hall whilst we were making our performances. The British authorities had insisted that Berger’s work would not be made available, but that they should show Kenneth Clark’s ‘Civilisation’ instead. The Europalia was an exhibition created to mark Britain’s entry into the Common Market. Our involvement in it was not without difficulties.

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The work of playwright John McGrath and poet Adrian Mitchell was also included in the Brussels exhibition, and received some hostile reactions from the British diplomatic corps. I have been searching for an extension of performance in a contemporary form, where the artist’s presence becomes invisible, after the performance has been completed. The actions of the artist provide access to what is there, on the ground, in the walls, within living (and dead) memories. This is the effect that an actor or a dancer has. But actors and dancers are interpreting or representing a pre-existing object, a text, a character, a choreographic score, a musical work, or they are reacting to artistic stimuli. The performer who is also visual artist may be starting from a deliberately phenomenological source. The opening sentences of one of Jean Baudrillard’s essays (Zurbrugg [ed]: 1997, 28) seems to correspond to my preoccupation with performance and disappearance: ‘It is not so much a question of producing (a text or an image). Rather, everything pivots upon the art of disappearance. But nevertheless, this process of disappearing has to leave some kind of trace, be this the site at which the other can exist – on the basis of one’s own calculated disappearance – according to the rules of the game of disappearance.’ As I had not been familiar with Baudrillard’s works in any detail before embarking on this research, I was surprised to discover what appeared to be points at which this writer’s thoughts overlapped with my own practice in performance art. Chris Rojek, in an essay entitled ‘Baudrillard and politics’ (Rojek & Turner [eds]: 1993, 110) comments on Baudrillard’s ‘sense of the pathology of society’. ‘Indifference in Baudrillard’s work … has a poetic quality not far removed from the gestural politics of the Situationists. One pursues indifference despite knowing that the pursuit must end in failure. For in the era of Simulation everything is reduced to the status of the model.’ Visiting, as artists, Poland and other countries either in or formerly part of the Comecon economic region in the 1970s, 80s, and d90s, Cameron and I could observe how survival on the margins of a watchful, state-subsidised cultural sector changed to survival on the margins of an indifferent commercial, global universe. Our East European friends had joined our world, one in which we ourselves had little part.

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The changes in working patterns have, in some cases, seemed to be sympathetic to the ways of working that free-lance full-time artists had developed in the 70s and 70s – portfolio working, short term contracts, self-sufficient self-employment. But such typical ‘free-market’ strategies can only work with ‘free-market’ production. The idea of competition for market share, which is embedded in the market economy, does not sit well with self-motivating creative processes, which to not react to demand, or even automatically seek it out. In Britain there has also been a general retreat from the public service ethos, represented in public health, library, museum, and arts provision. It has been replaced by a privately financed, market based consumer-led ‘voluntary’ service sector. This has worked against the concept of the artist as paid public servant in most of Europe. In two of the cities where I worked during the 70s and 80s – Glasgow and Sheffield – political changes in local government, accompanied by changes in economic structures, have meant less support for individual artists in the 90s. The box office has become a key factor, instead of an optional extra. It was once possible, for example under the Livingstone/Banks GLC, to propose a communal role for an artist in society, supported by some sort of economic structure. This is no longer the case. Efficacy has been overtaken by entertainment. The potential for supporting artists from the product of a copyrightbased rights system, in the way that both musical composers and writers gain support, has never developed to the same extent amongst visual artists. Developments in information technology such as the Internet have made their copyright system itself problematic. It seems ironic that in a culture where visual sign-systems are increasingly important, visual artists are less and less important, except as occasional entertainers and short-term controversialists. Zygmunt Bauman11 has delineated a new role for intellectuals (amongst whom I include artists) in ‘post’ or ‘super’modern society. His thesis is that intellectuals now have the role of interpreters, instead of their former one of legislators.

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I have elsewhere proposed that performance artists – a specific cohort of visual artists – have the role of ‘transmitters’ in contemporary urban society. In a lecture given in November 199312 I quoted from Italo Calvino in “La Poubelle Agréée”: (The acknowledged dustbin) he wrote: “The disposal of garbage is a ceremonial act of purification, ridding us of the squeezed lemon of living”.13 Similarly, in an interview with Judith Malina and Julian Beck, founders of The Living Theatre, published in 1969, Richard Schechner wrote: “There are two kinds of art around, conservative in a traditional way and yours, which I call relentless. Conservative art trains you to use your voice and body …. That’s a European-American way of thinking. Your idea strikes me as being more Asian. You give something and after you give it, you can never reclaim it. It uses itself up. That’s art based on expenditure, relentless expenditure.”14 Schechner seems here to have been referring to use (or using up) of the body, whilst Calvino’s analogy probably has more to do with memory. I nevertheless think both writers are dealing with a common experience – a creative process that relies on evacuation, rather than acquisition. Discarding the dustbin analogy, it seems clear that acts of observing and recording experience, whether supported by material aids (notebook, sketchbook, camera, sound recording or practice and rehearsal) or not, leave the intellectual/artist with a range of options. These options include: absorbing the experience without directly communicating it further; selecting saleable material and proceeding to market the ‘output’; or ‘displaying’ the material and giving utterance to meanings that had perhaps not been otherwise immediately discernible. This last option is what I, a performance artist, have taken in the works that lead to ‘Incorporating’. I choose to give the actual performances, the ‘display and utterance’, on the same sites at which the observation and recording had taken place. To a considerable extent, especially when (as in the case of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary) the artist visits a location for the first time, observation will be followed quickly (at most two or three days) by performance.

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The improvisation that this entails is a technique that I have used continually throughout my career from the time when I worked with the People Show (late 60s). One consequence of choosing the performance or ‘display and utterance’ option is that two phenomena may be distinguished by the spectator – the original material from which the ‘art’ work is constructed, and the actions of the performer/artist. A third, often transient, phenomenon is constituted by the marks that the performer’s activity makes on the ground of the original site. In the five performances covered by photographs in volume II, there marks were chalk or string, fragile and impermanent additions to the urban environment. The physical movements and actions of the performer are recorded less and less until they disappear. The reason for this is that an assumption of mimetic intent based on the perceived identity of the performer, is something I wished to eliminate as far as possible. I consider the actions or (creative) process of the artist as the most important feature of visual art. I base this on an hypothesis. The objects conventionally created by artists – the works of art – have been variously characterised as tokens of wealth and leisure, positional goods, symbols of moral or immoral value, and discrete objects of beauty. The identity of the person who takes on the role of being an artist is less significant than the impact that person has on the community in which the art process is carried out. The ‘artists’ who fulfilled some kind of shamanic role in prehistoric societies, and who created ‘cave paintings’ or led rituals, were technicians. They seem to have had the application and concentration necessary to perform a role from which their communities could benefit, they could draw, or dance, or lead a procession. They could possibly handle fire, and the light it gave. These first artists were, I believe, those individuals who could fulfil a role in society that required a heightened sensitivity to their environment, spatial awareness, and an ability to communicate enthusiasm and emotion. This role might be privileged if things went well, but could it also attract opprobrium if things went badly? That might depend on whether or not an artist was seen as divinely inspired.

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The ‘generalist’ view of what constitutes art was expressed by Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy: 1898, 50-51) ‘All human life is filled with works of art of every kind – from cradle song, jest, mimicry, the ornamentation of houses, dress and utensils, up to church services, buildings, monuments, and triumphal processions. It is all artistic activity.15 In her work ‘The Reenchantment of Art’, Suzi Gablik quotes Jürgen Habermas on social purpose being served; ‘by finding beautiful ways of harmonizing interests rather than sublime ways of detaching oneself from others’ interests.’ (She has been dealing with male, modernist myths in which the artist ‘stood aloof from the community’, was separated from and sought mastery over environment). Gablik proposes ‘a different model of communicative praxis and openness to others than the historical self of modernism, one that does not use the image of hero as its archetype but is more like the shaman.’ (Gablik: 1991, 67). The exposed position that a performer accepts – exposed to the gaze of spectators – is a necessary part of the mechanism. If the performer is disguised by characterization, plot, or lens-based technology, or performs through a non-human figure, a puppet, the exposure is mediated. But for direct contact and communication with other human beings, which is what theatre essentially relies on, the vulnerability of the exposed performer is an unavoidable condition. In recognising this, I have tried to identify the extent of the territory I am prepared to occupy as a performance artist. The point researched in ‘Incorporating’ is one at which the performance is only visible on the ground where it occurs. Photographic images of the artist do not exist, but they do exist of the environment at the time and after the performance. These photographs represent the aleatoric context, the physical limits within which the performer’s ‘random’ improvisatory elements occur. The performance featuring a performer is not seen in the photographic record, although of course the spectators ‘on the day’ do see it. In the case of ‘Incorporating’, the performance was the process being carried out – the chalk line is drawn, the graticular string knots tied. What the spectator of the documentation sees is the otherness, the world in which these actions occur, and the performer’s ‘calculated disappearance’ (Baudrillard: 1997, 28).

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There is a second(ary) documentary performance possible, in which the performer points out to another group of spectators (who may or may not included spectators from the initial group) elements in the photographic record. If this takes place, has the performer re-appeared? Or, as the secondary ‘documentary’ performance cannot be at the same time, can this be the same person? During the performance times of ‘Incorporating’ – the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th September 1999 between 1 and pm each day – the performer did spend short periods of time with spectators in a room in which were photographs of the previous 6 (related) performances, although there was minimal verbal communication between performer and spectators. The spectators stood in the room in silence, whilst the performer came and went, busy with the performance paraphernalia – chalk, string – silent on bare feet. This is an aspect of ‘Incorporating’ that I was reminded of when, 6 months later, I read the passage in which Baudrillard says: ‘In the very centre of the city, in the very centre of turbulence, in the very centre of visual and auditory stress, it (the photograph) recreates the desert, the equivalent of the desert – the equivalent also of a sense of isolation, of phenomenological isolation, or rather a phenomenological immobilization of appearances.’ (Zurbrugg, 1997: 31) This passage is at the end of Baudrillard’s essay ‘The Art of Disappearance’. Having decided that I no longer wished to be seen primarily as an actor – had never in truth wanted that characterization16 -- I began to explore the possibility of performing to engineer my own disappearance, in events in 1998 and 1999. In September 1999 I made ‘Incorporating’, which satisfied certain ambitions based on the ‘shamanic’ role of an artist described by Suzi Gablik (op cit), which I had identified many years ago, in the 60s. It was in the course of further research that I read, early in 2000, Baudrillard’s statemenet: ‘Only that which comes from the domain of disappearance (from one’s disappearance) is truly other.’ (Baudrillard: 1997, 28) The strategy of not recording my actual performance on film or video, or even (’Incorporating’) in still photographs, has been consciously adopted in a spirit of experiment, which was inspired to some extent by the work of Peggy Phelan in ‘Unmarked’, where she says: ‘Performance’s only life is in the present.

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Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so it becomes something other than performance. To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology. Performance’s being, … becomes itself through disappearance.’ (Phelan: 1993, 146) I was encouraged by discovering that, according to Chris Rojek (Rojek & Turner eds: 1993, 118), ‘The only salient political rights that Baudrillard recognizes are observing and communicating.’ I made the decision not to record the artist’s presence in the performance after the Hull performance of ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’, which was recorded on (at least) two separate video tapes. This is dealt with in more detail in part I, Chapter 1, page 24. I could be fairly sure, in the case of ‘Incorporating’ itself, that the only record of my actions as the performer would be in the memories of those present at the time17. Although I did not discourage photography or use of video/film cameras, I was fairly sure that, without my encouragement, these forms of documentation would not take place. One of the difficulties created by the presence of film-makers/camera operators at a performance is the deterministic effect it has on spectators, who may look to the camera operator(s) for a cue to direct their gaze. The presence of a camera can change what is intended to be multifocal (as seen by the human gaze) into the monocular. There is a basic dilemma involved in the decision not to document fully (ie by filming) a performance. Non-documentation may seem to be selfdefeating, in the context of self-advancement. But might it be that the value of live performance is defeated by its documentation? This is an argument that Peggy Phelan has made: ‘The pressures brought to bear on performance to succumb to the laws of the reproductive economy are enormous. For only rarely in this culture is the “now” to which performance addresses its deepest questions valued. (That is why the now is supplemented and buttressed by the documentary camera, the video archive.) … The disappearance of the object is fundamental to performance; it rehearses and repeats the disappearance of the subject who longs to be remembered.’ (Phelan, 1993: 146-147)

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Some of my own performances have touched on the ‘disappearance’ of the performer, or on the ‘expenditure’ of the body, particularly performances carried out in the forest in Poland, 1979, and in Smethwick, in a condemned tower block (‘Ectoplasm’ 199218). In the forest performances I realised for the first time that the stillness and silence that would often mark the end of a particularly physically demanding sequence was like the total stillness of unconsciousness, or death. In ‘Ectoplasm’, dressed in white, I walked barefoot around the empty apartment room, on floors arranged with the personal detritus of the departed (dead?) tenants. Bundles of grass, freshly cut from the tower block’s environs, were spread over the thresholds of the rooms. This embellishment was the result of an ‘artistic’ decision on my part, I wanted to soften the boundaries between rooms and hallway, and to introduce an element of the outdoor environment into the ‘dead’ interior. You could say that the grass was liminal, and indeed, after I had put it in place I was told by one of the spectators at the event that vegetation spread across the threshold was s symbol of death in some African communities. So what role did I play in the condemned Smethwick tower block? A marginal recorder of departed lives? An artist’s function, which was foreseen to some extent by Walter Benjamin19. Within his work on Arcades, Benjamin wrote, of Baudelaire; ‘In the guise of a beggar, Baudelaire continually put the model of bourgeois society to the test … The labyrinth is the right path for him who always arrives early enough at his destination. For the flâneur, this destination is the marketplace.’ (Benjamin: 1999, 338) Note the juxtaposition of the image ‘in the guise of a beggar’ and the concept of ‘the marketplace’. The potentially disturbing presence of a beggar, or of someone as economically useless as a beggar – a street performer, at a site dedicated to economic transactions has often been exploited in public performances. This is one of the confrontations that give carnival its strength. Bakhtin has emphasised the importance of the physical market in his work on Rabelais. Contemporary street performance in for example Morocco often takes place in open air markets, where, traditionally, freedom of speech also thrives.

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Inevitably, attempts to harness the power of street performance to an economic goal are part of current official thinking about the role of street entertainment in urban development. Benjamin’s researches encompassed bourgeois degeneracy (prostitution,) navigation in metropolitan space (the ‘dérive’), the freefloating ‘intellectual’ (the flâneur/flâneuse), and the inter-relationship between economy and creativity (cultural industries). Benjamin’s work remains incomplete; like Bakhtin’s, it was interrupted by circumstance. The interaction of political and economic changes in central Europe after 1989, with the advance of consumerism and information technology has produced a situation in which ‘networking’ has taken on a fresh significance. When I visited Moldova, Transylvania (Romania) and Slovakia in 1998 I was aware of the importance of electronic information technology to artists in countries that had only recently been able to communicate freely by telephone with other artistic communities. Another irony: after years of subterfuge, subtle double entendres, samizdat20 publications; the artists were at last free to travel. But advances in information technology meant they no longer needed to. But no matter how all-embracing the Internet and world-wide web, the human presence of interlocutors in the same physical environment (place) at the same time offers a form of communication that cannot be supplanted by ecommerce. The human condition is forever constrained and delighted by physicality. But what had been accomplished in previous decades by travelling artists, their work contained within their memories and consciousnesses, without a material form of support; may now perhaps be encased within the Internet, communicated by e-mail. In spite of claims to the contrary, electronic support systems are not human. Does Soros’s Open Society21 depend on communication systems for which an economic key is needed?

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I have pursued different strands of research since I began the series of performances that started at the Red Gallery in Hull in April 1998 with The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’. The writings of Bakhtin, Baudelaire, Baudrillard, Bauman were already known to me, but not in detail. Gablik, Phelan, Rojek, Saks I was better acquainted with. Augé and Zehme were new to me; both have provided unexpected insights into the process of creating and carrying out a performance. My own primary sources, the intentionality behind the performance artworks I have made remain my own, largely unaffected by any principles, theories, or critical commentaries. My praxis has developed out of the experience of practising performance art for most of my life, much influenced by a shared working life with my partner, Shirley Cameron.

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The People Show is one of the original Experimental Theatre Groups that emerged in the late 60s, in London. It has been very influential, has appeared in many parts of the world, and continues to create new shows. 2 'English Art Today’ catalogue, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York 1976 p. 429 3 See section 9 for a selected list of writings on Cameron & Miller’s work 4 Herbert Blau (l992: 23) refers to ‘the mystifying secrecy of (Growtowski’s) later paratheater’ 5 See R. Miller: ‘The 80s, a decade we could have done without’ in the National review of Live Art, 10th anniversary catalogue, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, 1990 6 the Artists’ Union, National Artists’ Association, Visual Artists’ Rights Society, British Copyright Council, & currently an UNESCO NGO (non-governmental organization) the International Association of Art 7 The installation was shown as part of an exhibition of Shonibare’s work ‘Dressing Down’ at the Mappin Gallery Sheffield, February-April 2000. Shonibare was quoted in the Sheffield Telegraph, 11th Feb. 2000 8 Sheffield Telegraph 11/02/2000, from an interview with Ian Soutar 9 INIVA –Institute of New International Visual Arts – the main source of funding for multiracial art in the UK 10 Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels 11 Zygmunt Bauman; Legislators and Interpreters; Oxford, Blackwell, 1987 12 ‘Artist as Transmitter’: see text of lecture given at De Montfort University, January ’99, reproduced in chapter 5, pp 65-78 13 The story is published in ‘The Road to San Giovanni’, see chapter 2 ‘The artist as perceptive receptacle’, p. 32 14 tdr The Drama Review; Vol 13 No 3, Spring 1969, p. 24 15 Leo Tolstoy ‘What is Art’ tr. A. Maude, 1898; London: Brotherhood 16 ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’, Hull and Chisinau 1998 marked the realisation of this in a public form.

1

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18 19 20

The only photographic/video record of my actual performance ‘Incorporating’ – 14-17 September 1999 – (that I am aware of) captured by the security camera on the corner of the Health & Laboratory at the top of Garden St. See volume II, photograph

on the days of may have been Safety Executive’s No. 41.

Samizdat: a system in the USSR by which literature suppressed by the government is clandestinely typed, printed, or photocopied and distributed (Longman Dictionary), Samisdat publication also occurred in other parts of the Comecon region. 21 The Open Society is a concept employed by Karl Popper in his work Open Society and Its Enemies, which inspired George Soros by ‘making sense of the Nazi and communist regimes that I had experienced first hand as an adolescent in Hungary’. (Soros; The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered 1998). My own

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encounters with Uncle George’s philanthropy in Moldova and Romania made me curious to look a little more closely at the man’s philosophy.

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Autobiographical note:
I was brought up in an atmosphere of reverence for works of literature, particularly poetry. My father wrote poetry as a young man, and was proud of being judged a runner-up to Dylan Thomas in a competition in The New Statesman. I grew up at a time when socialism and modernism both seemed to flag glowing utopian futures. My education was by any standards thorough, and thoroughly English. I was taught French and German, both languages and literatures, and for most of my life I have been strongly influenced by Europeanism – ideas, history and topography. Maps have always fascinated me, and the grids with which they are bound have, with perhaps too great a facility, been twisted into lines that feature in some of my performance pieces. Grids are a feature of constructivism. Constructivist art was part of the early idealism of the Russian Revolution, the modernism I encountered as a youth in 50s London, and the cultural ‘underground’ into which we (Cameron and I) were introduced in Poland at the end of the 70s. These three different but related strands came together in London in 1980, in an exhibition called ‘Pier + Ocean – Constructivism in the art of the seventies1. In the catalogue, Richard Paul Lohse, in conversation with Hands-Peter Riese2 says: ‘Through its working methods, systematic and Constructivist art is related to the structures of technology, science, etc; and through its expression it relates to the creation of tomorrow’s environment. Its inventions come from the laboratory – and the lab is the source of revolutions.’ (Lohse, 1980: 22) During the late 60s I had been closely involved with both the London Arts Laboratory in Drury Lane and its successor, the Institute for Research in Arts and Technology (IRAT) just north of Tottenham Court Road. At both of those venues and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) I worked with The People Show, creating theatre performances that used both the constructivist grid and free, individually determined improvisation. The clearest examples are probably ‘The Cultural Re-orientation of the Working Class’ (Arts Lab, Drury Lane, 1968), and ‘Changes’ (ICA, 1971)3. We also employed a very commanding style in our dealings with the audience.

One early People Show (‘Cages’), before I joined the team, had locked audience members inside actual metal cages. One of the major disputes that split the early People Show involved the author Jeff Nuttall demanding an assault on the audience that the actors refused4. My first works created with Cameron also contained an element of ‘performer dominance’. I realised, over a period of years, that the notion of the arts laboratory that would produce, from its experiments, a revolution, in Lohse’s words, was not visible. It hadn’t happened then, and it probably wouldn’t happen now. Humanity, society, a community, was not to be experimented with. Similarly, the avant garde concept of placing a grid on top of the world, or on the world and its inhabitants that an artist or performer could command, was inhuman behaviour. Art, I believe, must always be human. The mistake, I now believe, was to combine objective ‘scientific’ theory with intellectual rigour, and to harness this in the determinism of modernist aesthetics. Michael Gardiner, in his essay on Bakhtin and MereauPonty5, says: ‘Abstract philosophical or aesthetic contemplation as such can never gain entry into this universe of lived Being; it requires ‘actual communion’ with the concrete actions I perform, with the ‘reversibility’ that is inscribed in my living corporeality. Hence, both Merleau-Ponty and Bakhtin strongly contest what Emmanuel Levinas characterizes as the ‘primacy of intellectual objectivism’ … The penchant for abstract theory and the objectification of the world on the part of the modernist paradigm represents a retreat from lived experience, a symptom of alienation that is registered in a pervasive desire to transcend ‘this world, [which]is seen, heard, touched, and thought’ (Bakhtin, 1993: 57) My own praxis as a performance artist has developed throughout my life. It is a response to the predicament of life in a relatively prosperous region of the world in the 20th century. I was born in East London at the outbreak of World War II. An only child, I travelled with my mother to different sites of ‘evacuation’, away from the bombs falling on the city. We returned spasmodically to the suburbs – North Kent, where our house seemed to be under the flight path of warplanes from both sides. Air raids were frequent, and I played as a small boy in bomb craters where the earth would sometimes still be warm from the fires or explosions of the previous night. I watched ‘doodlebugs’ and other aerial weapons in the night sky.

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Sometimes when we returned from evacuation, houses in our road would be missing, replaced by ‘bombsites’. In Jordan’s Wood, not far from our house, there were said to be fugitive men living in secret, deserters from the army and escaped prisoners of war. My father had been called up into the army and was away in Egypt, Holland and other places. He wasn’t fighting; he served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, which was, in some logical way, connected to his civilian occupation. My father used to say that, before the war, he had been a ‘mad house clerk’. Before and after the war he was an administrator in mental hospitals, or lunatic asylums as they used to be called. He was employed by the London County Council, and was proud of being a Labour Party supporter. At first he worked in South London hospitals, like The Maudsley, at Denmark Hill. Some Saturday mornings he would take me to work with him. At a very early age I became used to seeing people who were mentally ill. I was eight when my father got a job at a hospital near Exeter in Devon; we moved into a house in the hospital grounds – it went with the job. This was a very special environment. The staff houses were ranged in order of the importance of the occupants. The Medical Superintendent (top doctor) had a Victorian villa with a lawned garden. The Clerk and Steward (my father) had a square brick 3-bedroomed utilitarian family house with a tennis court. The Chief Engineer and Head Male Nurse had similar, but smaller houses. The Farm Bailiff lived in the hospital farmhouse, a traditional building with a courtyard where the cows were milked. The ploughman lived in a small farm cottage. It was a self-contained community. We got our milk from the hospital farm, our bread from the hospital bakery, and our clothes were washed in the hospital laundry. All the resident staff had servants – trusted patients who worked in our houses as a form of ‘occupational therapy’. Nurses and other staff lived in the Nurses’ Home or the nearby village. This establishment had the feel of a colonial plantation, a microcosm of British society. The hospital was the largest local employer. Madness was a local industry. We lived in an institution in the country. Local people called it the ‘Loony Bin’. I became very comfortable around ‘lunatics’.

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Anecdotal details of the dysfunctional behaviour of psychiatric patients are neither useful nor ethical in the current context; but I will record one patient’s behaviour. It marks a link between obsessive behaviour and the activity known as ‘making art’. As a child, I used to find, in the hospital grounds, little caches of paper clips inscribed with very large numbers. Columns of figures in millions and hundreds of thousands were written on crumpled scraps of paper secured under stones and pieces of wood. The deposits were scattered throughout the hospital’s grounds and farmland. I was impressed by the neatness of the stone and wood arrangements. The materials seemed to have been carefully selected. This in contrast with the written figures, which were often distorted and incomplete. There were no pound signs (£) or other currency signifiers, but the figures nevertheless suggested sums of money. I was told that the man who created these miniature artworks had lost a profitable business and been bankrupted, resulting in a mental crisis. Whether or not this was true, the objects he created were curiously satisfying – to me at least. The choice of stones and wood, the positioning of the papers, the placing of the deposits – visible, but not vulnerable to accidental disturbance – many things about his curious phenomenon and the impression it made on me at the time contributed to an indelible impression, on me if no-one else. I have no doubt that one of the reasons (for the strong impression) was the lack of explanation (mystery), and another was the anonymity of the perpetrator. He seemed to be a man who should have been unhappy, but who apparently enjoyed a productive life. Although I was told that he was ‘a patient’, and therefore ‘mad’, I never saw him at work, and I think I didn’t totally believe what I was told. I was very careful never to (re)move the man’s objects. Many of the patients came from the farming community, and in theory were able to help with the hospital farm and gardens. We had a gardener who had been a farmer, a cattleman, who had driven his herds to market over miles of open country, sleeping out at night. His family included the owners of the local Exeter City Brewery, their name was on all the beer bottles. Admissions to the hospital used to rise sharply after hay and corn harvest time each year – apparently because of the increased consumption of cider.

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The hospital buildings were Victorian, neo-gothic in design, with turrets, crenulations, a clock tower, and also farm buildings and smoke stacks, a boiler house, bakery and laundry. These hospitals always stood in extensive grounds, with gates and driveways leading up to imposing frontages. Behind the front doors, often embellished with polished brass, were the boardrooms of the committees of local worthies that ran the hospitals, accommodation for junior doctors (single men) and the offices of administrators like my father. He eventually became the Group Secretary to the Management Committees of several hospitals, a title he was given at some juncture in the re-organisation of the National Health Service. Out of sight, behind the impressive frontages, and the conifer hedges, were the hospital wards, usually radiating off long central corridors. The design of these buildings was usually ominously symmetrical, and the main bifurcation split the wards into male and female. The wards would be numbered; low numbers for the less disturbed patients, the admission wards, the infirmary wards, where patients were both physically and mentally ill, and so on. High numbered wards, into the 20s and 30s, were for seriously ill and violent patients. These were normally locked wards, double locked, and there were padded cells. Every numbered ward on the male side had a matched numbered ward on the female side. Every hospital was also equipped with an operating theatre, chapel – Anglican, mortuary, full size snooker tables and a cricket pitch. Each hospital also contained a large ballroom with a proscenium arched stage, which is where I made my first ‘stage appearances’. At the largest hospital where we lived there were 2,000 patients, a submissive but eternally restless mass of infinitely varied humanity. What was the purpose of this self-contained, rigidly demarcated system? I remember watching a stone mason chiselling the word ‘asylum’ off the surface of the foundation stone on the institution’s imposing façade, with it was renamed ‘hospital’. In Devon I went to the village school, which was rather like a Dame school, with two Dames and two classes, then to the local public school, as a day boy on a County Scholarship. I was one of the first two boys to gain entry on a local authority scholarship. I had come from Clyst St. Mary Primary (village) school, the other boy from Farringdon Primary.

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Our first form master refused to use our names, he called us ‘Clyst St Mary’ and ‘Farringdon’. The other boy’s father worked at an Approved School, for naughty boys; we were both the sons of public servants, not professional men nor businessmen, like the other boys’ fathers. Thus, in a way, began my long devotion to the idea of a welfare state and public service, however oddly configured. The school was militaristic (membership of the Cadet Force was compulsory) and rigidly C of E. Thus began my devotion to anarchy. I went to Oxford, Wadham College, and read English, an easier option than the Politics Philosophy and Economics for which I had been accepted. I did my first year in PPE, and finished the English Language and Literature degree in my final two years. Thus began my life as a comparatively idle ‘intellectual’. I made my first conscious piece of performance art at Dartington, South Devon, where I worked as a tutor in the College of Arts in the early 60s. True to my Romantic literary education, it was a memorialising of John Clare. On the anniversary of his birthday, I read from his poetry next to the river Dart, whilst an ‘assistant’, in a black tail coat, passed around a silver tankard of Guinness for the spectators to sip. A swan floated lightly past. ‘I am – yet what I am, none cares or knows; My friends forsake me like a memory lost: I am the self-consumer of my woes.’6 This was not the first solo performance I had made for a group of spectators. That occurred, as far as I remember, in Ireland, in the back bar of the Golf Links Hotel, Glengarriff, County Cork. I was 7 years old, I danced on the table.

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NOTES Hayward Gallery, 8 May to 22 June 1980. Catalogue; Arts Council of Great Britain, 1980 2 quoted in the Pier + Ocean catalogue, from an interview with Lohse by Hans-Peter Riese, Magazin Kunst, 36, 1969 3 Jeff Nuttall’s own account of the early days of The People Show in ‘Performance Art’ vols I & II, John Calder, London 1979 is revealing, if not always convincing. 4 ‘The Railings in the Park’ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 1968, see Nuttall, 1979: 37 5 Michael Gardiner’s essay ‘The Incomparable Monster of Solipsism’: Bakhtin and Merleau-Ponty is published in ‘Bakhtin and the Human Sciences, No Last Words’, eds. Michael Mayerfield Bell and Michael Gardiner; London, Sage Publications, 1998 6 John Clare (1793-1864): ‘I am’
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I

ANALYSIS

Chapter 1: The Importance of Landscape, the Value of Low Life: Romanticism and the origins of performance art

The English Romantic tradition
‘On a good day you have John Keats, on a bad day you get Adolph Hitler.’ Andrew Motion, on romanticism1. Motion went on to say that the Victorians confined the working classes in the depressed parts of cities, where they would not threaten the romantically informed middle classes. Both the romantic’s potential fascism and fascination with lower class milieux have persisted in contemporary performance art. In 1800 William Wordsworth’s Preface to the second edition of ‘The Lyrical Ballads’ was published, an enlarged version appeared in 1802. A collection of poems by Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the first edition had been published in 1798: the 1800/02 Preface explained that the two poets had experimented, to see whether poetry could be achieved by putting into metric verse “a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation”. Coleridge’s task was to put the fantastic into ordinary language (see the Rime of the Ancyent Marinere). Wordsworth’s was the complementary one: to put the ordinary into poetic language, ‘We are seven’, ‘the last of the Flock’, ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’. Wordsworth set out his project: “The principal object then which I proposed to myself in these Poems was to make the incidents of common life interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement. Low and rustic life was generally chosen because in that situation the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that situation our elementary feelings exist in a state of greater simplicity and consequently may be more accurately contemplated and more forcibly

communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings: and from the necessary character of rural occupations are more easily comprehended; and more durable; and lastly, because in that situation the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.” (Wordsworth, 1957: 226) This passage describes a process that has been to some extent assumed in both the theory and practice of the contemporary arts. It indicates areas of concern, material used, and the ways in which 19th and 20th century artists have expressed themselves. Wordsworth anticipates a modernist use of realism, the direct transposition of everyday language, authenticity. ‘Low and rustic life’, ‘a plainer and more emphatic language’, ‘greater simplicity’, ‘elementary feelings’; all sought out by Wordsworth, have been stock forms of much 20th century film, some theatre, and some literature. Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) has drawn attention to the 18th century appropriation of ‘medieval and Renaissance grotesque’ imagery into Romanticism. Bakhtin’s argument is that the forms of the grotesque found originally in medieval folk culture ‘began to degenerate into static “character” presentation and narrow “generism”. This degeneration was linked with the specific limitations of the bourgeois world outlook.’2 Bakhtin claims that those who, in the 20th century, studied folk culture and humour (phenomena such as the “feast of fools”) used 19th century methods and ignored the creative and cultural significance of their source materials. ‘This accumulation of curiosities and indecencies remains outside the circle of creative problems.3 Bakhtin’s general theory of the ‘carnivalesque’, in literature, offers an interesting key to the potency and significance of what may be termed ‘low life’. He validates the folk humour derived from bodily functions and the grotesqueries used in depicting them. They are an important part of the process of rebirth and renewal. This process is not part of literature, but a part of life. A reading of John Berger’s ‘Pig Earth’, in the light of his critical writings on art, for example ‘Ways of Seeing’, might even suggest that Wordsworth was setting out a proto-Marxist manifesto on art. Wordsworth also gives a theoretical basis for the use of such later technological developments as camera, tape-recorder and video recorder.

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He seems to have been attempting to return poetry to a form of the recording of reality, to give it a truth to life, to hide or eradicate the artificiality of artifice. This may have been an impossible task, it was certainly an idealistic one. Wordsworth’s radical realism was eventually tempered by disillusion with the French Revolution, its excesses, and the dynastic aspirations of the Bonapartist succession. In short, Wordsworth turned his back on Republicanisms, Europe, and ideological revolution. And he reinforced the foundations of the romantic ruralism that has provided a soft and cosy nest for English culture ever since. Mikhail Bakhtin, on the other hand, tried to re-establish the actual, active source of popular cultural forms. And to evolve a theoretical basis for the literary use of ‘low life’ source material. Wordsworth and other 18th and 19th century poets are often linked with ‘the pathetic fallacy’, which refers to an association of human emotions and natural phenomena. The phrase was first used by John Ruskin (1819-1900) in Modern Painters: “All violent feelings … produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things, which I would generally characterize as the ‘Pathetic fallacy”4 “The sympathetic linking of man to nature, and nature to man became a key element in 19th and 20th century culture.”5 In the 19th century two major factors began to influence culture and society and to affect the natural world. The inexorable advance of science, industry and technology; and the urgent desire for democracy, equality, and radical change, fuelled by researches in psychology that questioned what had previously been established as ‘God given’ or ‘the natural order’. Culture, and the production of the arts, leant very heavily towards the status quo in the 19th century, at least in Europe, and those parts of the world where European influence was dominant. Landscape painting was, in the recent past, a dominant fashion, together with ‘the gothic’, romantic orchestral music, and anthropomorphic sculpture. Humankind was seen in a significant relationship with nature. Man either owned the landscape in front of which he posed, or was ‘in tune with it’. Anthropomorphism, or animism, continues in contemporary art, although the relationship between artist, or individual, and nature has changed.

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Richard Long, sometimes described as a ‘conceptual artist’ who began working in the 60s, has walked across wild landscapes on solo journeys. He has constructed landmarks with stones found on site, and transferred some of the evidence of his activities (circles of stones, muddy handprints) to the floors and walls of art galleries. Gilbert and George, two artists who rose to prominence in the 60s and 70s as performers and makers of art objects, have made excursions into the wild places of East London, to meet the wild young men who live there. Before that they posed in front of portentous shrubbery, depicting themselves ‘in the nature’. Long, Gilbert and George, and some other contemporary artists have also made their live work known through the medium of photographic and video records. Some contemporary photography concentrates on the dark, wild, deserted places, marshland, degraded landscapes, nature surviving against mankind’s brutalism. The places depicted are heroic and elegiac; the art that depicts them is romantic. Even artist-victims in the urban jungle (Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin) anthropomorphise their hostile environments. In the passage quoted from the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth sketched out a basis for a new poetic culture, and a suitable subject matter. He had a personal dilemma. He had been to France, seen the Revolution, become intellectually and sexually involved, been treated as an outsider in his native country, (at one stage accused of being a Napoleonic spy) become rootless and lived in rural isolation with other artists. He wanted to be involved in ordinary life, but with the freedom to exercise his muscular intellect and moral judgement. Wordsworth has become one of the classic models for romantic intellectuals. This model was reinforced, down the years, by many individuals in different ways, some of whom became known as ‘Bohemians’, some as ‘ruralists’, yet others as ‘drop-outs’, ‘hippies’ or New Age Travellers. But Wordsworth also wanted to be at one with ordinary people, he did not want to be an outsider: “Among the qualities which I have enumerated as principally conducing to form a Poet, is implied nothing differing in kind from other men, but only in degree … How, then, can his language differ in any material degree from that of all other men who feel vividly and see clearly?” (Wordsworth, 1957: 241)6

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But Wordsworth’s poetic language is unlikely to have been the same as ordinary discourse, it seems to have used an educated urban English, refined by poetic convention. Wordsworth’s text is the written form of what we would now call ‘received’ or ‘standard pronunciation’. Choice of subject matter is another problem. Wordsworth proposed going to ‘Low and rustic life’ for his poetic material because it was there that the ‘essential passions of the heart’ could mature better, and being less restrained, could speak more plainly. Wordsworth’s proposed methodology seems to have been generally approved in the 20th century. But the identification of ‘primitive’ purity in communities living in poor, but simple circumstances today has a patronising, colonial ring. Modern documentary photography can also be patronising. Some of these issues were addressed in an article published in 19867. In it Miller suggested that some contemporary documentary photography and film making has assumed an ‘anthropological’ stance in the selection of subject matter that depicted ‘primitive’ behaviour. We should ask what Wordsworth meant by ‘essential passions of the heart’. Love? Sexual desire? Hope? Goodness? Decency? Honesty? I take it that ‘heart’ is contingent with ‘soul’ in this context, and that Wordsworth was trying to say that people living in ‘Low and rustic’ life are more directly in touch with their feelings, and more able to express them honestly. He supposes too that they are better able to understand what they feel. Wordsworth wants his subjects to be like Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ‘noble savage’. Throughout the last two centuries, artists have been fascinated by the state of ‘innocence’ in which it is supposed that some (other) people live. To what extent is this fascination predatory? Some assumptions about, and preoccupations of 20th/21st century artists seem to be derived from this Romantic viewpoint. Writers’, artists’ and film-makers’ fascination with low life, with the poor and the discarded is widespread. The Glaswegian artist Peter Howson has painted alcoholics drinking in the Saracen’s Head, a Glasgow pub. Hubert Selby junior described a gang-bang on a vacant lot in New York (in ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’), William Burroughs detailed the mechanics of drug taking, John Cassavetes, Mike Leigh and other film-makers have portrayed people living in poverty or on the margins of ‘regular society’.

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Myles Na Gopaleen wrote satirically of poor outcasts in the Gaeltacht living in bushes, eating stones. Tracey Emin displayed her soiled bedding in the installation ‘My Bed’ at the Tate Gallery, in 1999. There is currently a crop of TV ‘docusoaps’ and comedy programmes that rely on a portrayal of the ‘socially excluded’. Representation of low life is a thick ribbon of subject matter running through creative activity in most cultures. What is problematic is the romanticising of privation. The romantic trail can lead to cowboy country, the land in the West where issues are clear, people are simply good or bad, and being poor is an uncluttered state, a condition to be, perhaps, idealised. Artistic creation is identified with the margins of society when (as today) it is literally not at the centre of economic life. This has become more evident during the rise of the ‘Britart’ phenomenon. Artists such as Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas have shown work that is consciously ‘debased’, using crude imagery and undisguised self-degradation. The arts do tend to identify extremes of social experience, high or low, ecstatic or debased. There is, mixed in with the superficial selfindulgence of the post-modern Fine Artist, an impulse that should be more closely examined. Most artists, and performance artists above all, wish to share an experience with others. That is one strand of communicative, selfconfessional impulse in creativity. Whilst for centuries artists responded to a popular demand – for manual/perceptual skills and an identification of ‘beauty’, with the 20th century and modernism, the balance shifted. Artists no longer responded only to popular demand. Some of them – Duchamp, Picasso, Dali – offered their dystopian self-perceptions to share with others. In some cases (members of the Dada, Fluxus, and Situationist movements) artists frustrated popular demand by expressing degrees of ‘otherness’. This reflected artistic autonomy, and inevitably a rejection of some of the received notions of skill and ‘beauty’. It is from some of these shifts that performance art and other ‘oceanic swells’ have emerged.8 Performance art, as the name suggests, combines two forms, visual art and live performance of a non-mimetic variety. Comedy, a detached freewheeling form, a sophisticated entertainment, is an ancient tradition. The jester, fool, trickster, clown, stand-up comedian is basically the same figure, recurring over many centuries.

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This individual performer may be related to the shaman. In the 20th century, with the modernist movement in art, the emerging performance artist connected with the identity of the ‘theatrical’ fool. Some performance art in the 60s and 70s came close to forms of popular comedy. The naïve inconsequentiality of a comic actor like Buster Keaton, or the ‘clowning’ elements in Max Wall’s performances seem to share the same sources in Dada and surrealism as performance art. In the United States this connection was first recognised in the 70s. Here is a description of a solo comedy performer, Andy Kaufman, attributed to Richard Belzer, a New York club MC: ‘Either consciously or unconsciously, Andy was challenging and educating audiences, stretching their imaginations … He made other performers more daring – he had that effect … He was a performance artist before the term existed.9 Andy Kaufman began appearing regularly at New York clubs in the early 70s, he died in 1984. Several common roots connect names for figures like the alienated, possibly crazed individual: the loner, the clown or ‘natural’ entertainer, the ‘savant’ or ‘autistic savant’, the ‘village idiot’, holy fool, and witch doctor/shaman. Each of these terms is to some extent either inadequate, patronising, or hides an attempt to rationalise this individual’s presence/function in a community. There may be a neurological thread linking these disparate, dysfunctional personalities. The culture of the second half of the twentieth century has been a mish-mash of movements and fashions, rejected theories, politically transient philosophies and inherited artistic movements. Modernism, Surrealism, Constructivism, Situationism, Da-da, Cubism, Arte Povera, Conceptualism and finally (?) post-Modernism. Some movements have outlived the socio-political circumstances that led to their emergence. Recording, reprographic and broadcasting technologies have finally facilitated the communication of events more quickly than cultural manifestations can. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, written and spoken Anglophone culture is still heavily influenced by eighteenth and nineteenth century romanticism. Literary forms such as the picaresque novel, the domestic comedy, the tragedy, saturate other artistic genres.

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Film and television, the main vehicles for the transmission of cultural manifestations, trade heavily in realism and its interplay with fiction. The ‘docusoap’, and the documentary styled comedy, currently popular forms of television, rely on the framing of what appears to be reality, but with a romantic audience/reader emotional involvement as closure The formula may be played the other way round when actors in their mimetic roles are promoted in the press as ‘real’ persons. This interchange of reality with fiction has influenced visual art. The fixed image equivalent of realistic film-making is the photo-realist painting, or its sculptural equivalent, popular in the USA in the sixties and seventies. Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Victorian Dandy’ photo-montages (see Introduction, p. 5), the work of Gilbert and George and the photographs and videos of Richard Billingham, are examples of the realistic treatment of artists’ autobiographical material. What these visual artworks have in common with romantic literature is the technique of adopting a relatively sophisticated means of articulation to express an unsophisticated, and sometime abject life (Julia Kristeva’s use of ‘abjection’ – see chapter 3). When the artist, the originator of the cultural phenomenon, seems to be both sophisticated and abject, we have, perhaps, arrived at the ironic stance of postmodernism. Intervention, participation and self-inflicted pain Development of lens-based media in the 20th century has modified the processes by which we receive information. Above all, it has affected the way in which art is represented and represents. Walter Benjamin’s best known essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction10 contains this key passage: ‘Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art. The reactionary attitude toward a Picasso painting changes into the progressive reaction toward a Chaplin movie. The progressive reaction is characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment with the orientation of the expert. {…} With regard to the screen, the critical and the receptive attitudes of the public coincide.’ (Brodersen, 1996: 222)

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The effect of narration through mimetic performance (or acting) is reinforced by mechanical reproduction. The vast edifice of 20th century film and television culture has grown out of the presumption that the camera captured ‘nature so adequately that photography made art the “same” as nature’. (Phelan, 1993: 36) The pleasure that this process provides is a vicarious or associative experience. Narration communicates an experience that is not available to or desirable for the spectator/listener. Human contact with the narrator, either directly or through a creative intermediary (as author) would enable the reader/spectator vicariously to experience what the narrator/character was being shown to have experienced. When I read Robinson Crusoe I may imagine what it would have been like to have been ‘thunderstruck’ at seeing ‘the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore’ (Defoe, 1719). Moreover my vicarious experience at first encountering the fictitious Man Friday might reinforce in me, a white reader, a sense of the ‘otherness’ of someone of a different skin-colour. This is the process that Vesna Goldsworthy describes in her book ‘Inventing Ruritania, the Imperialism of the Imagination’11. She describes ‘the ‘familiarly alien’ world of the Balkans which was created by the Romantics in their desire to escape the increasingly ordered world of industrialised Western Europe’ (Goldworthy, 1998: 210). She also states that: ‘In their quest for authenticity, the Romantic poets saw, in the Balkans, Europe in its cradle, a ‘genuine’, unspoilt Europe,’ (Goldsworth, 1998: 76). The Romantic/Gothic cinematic characterisation of Transylvania, in the Dracula films, within Romania, is one of the ‘most powerful products in the history of entertainment in our era. It is’, according to Goldsworthy, ‘born out of the power of the Western entertainment industry which dominates the markets of the imagination, the imperialism perpetrated by the entertainment industry plays a role analogous to that played by the more familiar forms of economic imperialism’ (Goldsworth, 1998: 203). My own performances in the Balkans, and in particular in Transylvania (1998) were deliberately cast in a framework where a product of the lens-based

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technology used by the entertainment industry – the Wilson video made in the Red Gallery in Hull, also 1998 – could be viewed as a non-Romanticised documentation of the actual context within which Miller’s domestic performances functioned. The refusal to turn live performances into material susceptible to reproduction and dissemination through a similar technology to the one employed by the entertainment industry is conscious. It is based on a recognition of the inherent slipperiness of the process of reproduction, and the expectations generated in spectators by the sight of a camera pointing, the directed gaze. ‘The transformative possibilities of the Real, we may have to trust, while unable to be fully confirmed within the field of the visible (or the empirical) cannot be permanently denied. It is in doubt. That’s why we must keep performing and transforming the interpretations of this relation. Doubt may be the best guarantee of real presence. Fort. Da. The generation and reproduction of this doubt may be the most significant achievement of the unmarked performance of the Real.’ (Phelan, 1993: 180) Various forms of ‘media’, many but not all lens-based, have taken over the role of information transmission. Artists, poets and performers may continue to be authentic sources of information. They have the opportunity for the direct transmission to others of experience. Both Goldsworthy and Phelan understand the power and significance of the reproductive economy. Whether this power serves a colonial or a sexist agenda (perhaps the two are coterminous), it trades in self-fulfilling stereotypes. A visitor to Transylvania from the ‘West’ will find forests ‘sinister’ and folk customs ‘atavistic’. Transylvanians may reciprocate by treating the visitor with undue deference. A performance artist, in close contact with spectators in a public place, may simultaneously present an authority that more properly belongs to the shaman, and the omniscience of an outside observer. Experienced street performers, whether busking or ‘bottling’ for money, or satirically ridiculing authority figures, are able to harness the trust and support of members of the public. The performer can take on some of the excesses of demagoguery, for a limited space. This may be entertaining; it may also be, in Richard Schechner’s terminology, ‘efficacious’12.

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Much performance art work depends on observation; the artist’s ‘looking’, which may become the potential reciprocal gaze ‘part of the ‘unique’ province of live performance’ (Phelan, 1993: 4). One of the effective techniques of performance is to ‘frame’ and bring into close-up or set at a distance, behaviour. This ‘zooming’ does not, unlike its equivalent in lens-based forms, result in a reproductive and disseminated image. The process takes place within the performer’s consciousness, and the result is displayed on the performer’s body. The behavioural image captured by the performer is displayed, often simultaneously, for reciprocal viewing by a spectator. Performance, unlike film and photography, does not depend on technology, and unlike acting, does not depend on rehearsal. The operation of performance is not simply a question of efficiency, but of imagination and authenticity. In the process of performance ethical considerations may come into play. The main difference between performance and other disseminated artforms is that performance does not require replication of the images it generates. Recording performance The two video recordings made at the Red Gallery in Hull of Miller’s performance ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’13 in April 1998 have not been included in documentation of the performance series currently under consideration. Like all lens-based documentation of live performance work, whereas the videotapes may be regarded as artworks in their own right, they do not provide a comprehensive copy of the performed artwork. In other words the video or film version of the performance is just that, another version. Control of the visual images generated by the performance is in the hands of neither the artist/performer nor of the spectators, but of a third party to the proceedings, the camera operator. This control may be further diffused by the intervention of an editor. One of the Hull videos (Dickenson’s) has slow-motion elements and incamera editing. The camera position was central, which results in some framing of the performer without the closely-crowded spectators. The Red Gallery is a small space, and the physical proximity of performer and spectators was an important feature of the event.

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The Wilson video is a more useful document, because it records interventions from individual spectators, and in particular one whose contribution to the performance matches Miller’s. This spectator makes several obscene remarks, some of which are addressed to other (female) spectators and at the performer. An aggressive atmosphere builds up, which offers some insight into the nature of the venue. At one point the vocal spectator accuses the performer of ‘not being Winston Churchill’14. This bizarre remark is doubtless based on the appearance and accent of the performer, and it may reflect a perception of the performer as a would-be ‘toff’. Some people who have seen this video have assumed that actual threats are being made by the spectator to the performer, but the performer’s own impression was that the two were interacting positively. It seems likely that this particular spectator, and some other individuals, were reacting to the presence of the camera(s). There were in fact three video cameras operating during this performance. The presence of cameras has several effects on spectators’ perceptions of a live performance. Spectators may rely on the camera operators’ directions for their point of view, following the camera’s ‘gaze’ rather than finding their own. Spectators may decide that the event is organised as part of a film or TV programme. Finally, and most significantly, the presence of recording equipment may induce spectators to undervalue or ignore ‘the “now” to which performance addresses its deepest questions.’ (Phelan, 1993: 146) The Wilson video was shown in Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia in 1998 to communicate the context of the original performance to spectators who had no experience of this work in ‘Western’ society. Many expressed themselves shocked at what they perceived to a dangerous situation. Still photographs, which are a part of the documentation15 included in this text, have a different effect. The first set of photographs – of the performances in Chişinãu, May 1998, show the performer, but he is no longer always present in Nové Zamký, or present at all in Budapest (October ’98). He appears again in Glasgow (November) but is beginning to be edged out by the surroundings. When we reach Sheffield (September ’99) the performer has disappeared completely.

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In his interview with Nicholas Zurbrugg, on photography, Baudrillard says:’… the world in general may be disappointing, but each detail can be ecstatic, or whatever. It’s the same sort of argument – that if one extricates oneself from metaphysics, from the interpretation of the world and so on, one discovers a sort of delicacy in the non-meaningful … In other words, one enters a kind of empty space – the delicacy of emptiness and the delicacy of objects which became lost in their own emptiness. They don’t have any centre, they’re not in the process of gravitating towards any centre.’ (Zurbrugg, 1997: 41) That passage clearly expresses the effect being sought in the still photographs of the space in which the performance of ‘Incorporating’ took place in Sheffield, September 1999. Disappearance of the Romantic The role of the auteur has changed. Wordsworth and his contemporaries assumed that the writer, the poet, the artist, was active, and the reader was intelligently passive. The subject of the writing was also passive. Wordsworth’s poetry is full of his unique experience; his feelings on revisiting known landscapes, the watcher in the shadows. The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits, Among the woods and copses lose themselves, Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb The wild green landscape. Once again I see These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms Green to the very door; and wreathes of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees, With some uncertain notice, as might seem, Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some hermit’s cave, where by his fire The hermit sits alone.16

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Wordsworth broods on memories of this scene on the banks of the Wye ‘mid the din of towns and cities’ where he can recall ‘feelings too of unremembered pleasures’, and ‘in lonely rooms’ can evoke that ‘serene and blessed mood’ that lulls him into sleep. But Wordsworth does not – in these lines – visit more intimately the vagrant dwellers or the hermit with whom he seems to identify. In other poems Wordsworth does relate a greater involvement with the individuals he observes. See, for example, ‘The female Vagrant’, ‘The Mad Mother’, or ‘The Idiot Boy’, which are small narratives, observations of others who either tell their story to the poem’s narrator, or have it told for them. The detachment persists, a mediation between us and ‘them’ – the subjects observed by poet and reader. Roughly two hundred years later, we know of the possibility of an active reader and an active subject. We entertain the notion of ‘intervention’ or ‘participation’. Was there, in 19th century Romantic detachment, a lack of empathy which was exposed by 20th century ‘advances’ in psychology? Contemporary theatre makes use of performance in the form of, mostly, acting, although there are also examples of ‘non-acting’. The ‘acted’ or mimetic performance is the most easily accepted form of performance. Even in dance, which may be intended to be non-representational, individual members of the audience may attach meaning to the actions of the dancers. Most people will, from a desire to find meaning in what they see, interpret a performative action as an imitation or representation of a ‘real’ action, and assume it intended as such. Some authorities have questioned this automatic interpretation. Herbert Blau, Peggy Phelan, and, from a phenomenological viewpoint, Stanton B. Garner17 have challenged the notion that all performance is, like acting, essentially mimetic. Erving Goffman18 in a chapter called ‘The Theatrical Frame’ provides a definition of performance that relates it firmly to an on-stage activity where ‘a line is ordinarily maintained between a staging area where the performance proper occurs and an audience region where the watchers are located.’ Goffman also points out, in a footnote (page 124) that ‘A different definition of performance is recommended by Dell Hymes “Toward Linguistic Competence” (unpublished paper, 1973); ‘And there is a sense in which performance is an attribute of any behaviour, if the doer accepts or has imputed to him responsibility for being evaluated in regard to it.’

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Mimetic performance may make use of surreal, psychologically based symbolism, or ‘magic realism’, either in film or on stage. Wordsworth’s readers would have known mannered, operatic drama, verse plays, Italianate staging. Some might also have known ‘low’ folk art performances. But did they consider performance for ‘theatrical purposes’ as in any way related to other forms of performative behaviour? It is interesting to look at Wordsworth’s poetic descriptions alongside the account of the Life & Adventures of Bamfylde Moore Carew (original text – 1813)19. This is an early example of a free-lance performer taking on the role of a ‘victim’ of society, for fun and profit, without the aid of theatrical mediation: he practiced the art of begging, but was in fact a ‘gentleman’. One of his tricks was to visit a country house twice, once as a respectable neighbour, and then shortly afterward disguised as a beggar. His motives seem to have been simply mischievous, although he did boast about the money he conned from householders. Martyrdom, and the identification of victimhood, is consistent with heroic romanticism. The martyr, whether a victim of fate, of society, or of an enemy, sometimes self-defining, often emblematic, is a special image in art and performance. Self-inflicted pain is part of a performer’s repertoire. Christian flagellants parade their bleeding skins in Spain. The modest suffering of sweating middle-aged men in penal black suits carrying a heavy plaster statue of the Virgin shoulder-high up a stony road in the August sun, which I have seen in Portugal, can excite feelings of heroic empathy in the believer. Geoff Dyer in an article in The Guardian20, identified a link between photographs of sportsmen in extremis and familiar images from Renaissance piétàs. “For 2,000 years the single most potent image in Western culture has been of a man, almost naked, in the extremes of exhaustion and pain.” Dyer illustrated his piece with a photograph of boxer Barry McGuigan, and referred to the Mohammed Ali-Joe Frazier fight in Manila, and to athletes crossing the finishing line, faces contorted, limbs spread-eagled. Veiled references to classical heroic sculpture in sports photography are common.

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The figure of Prometheus, to whom Dyer also referred, has been invoked by artists and poets as a symbol of struggle against restraining bonds, imposed on the creative spark. The photograph by Chris Smith of Barry McGuigan resting in his corner that accompanied Dyer’s article has been noted for its likeness, not to McGuigan, but to a Renaissance crucified Christ. It was a fight McGuigan lost. The ninth Kassel Art Documenta in 1992 was sub-titled “The Olympics of Art”, dignifying, or trivialising, a connection between two apparently disparate cultural phenomena. Richard Hamilton’s depiction of an Irish Republican hunger striker ‘The Prisoner’ shows him as a Christ, bearded, suffering, a blanket draped round his shoulders, the walls of his cell smeared with his own excrement. In Derry during the ‘Dirty Protest’ I saw young republican sympathisers sitting in makeshift breeze-block cells, at the roadside, collecting money for their cause. They had blankets draped around them, and their faces were daubed with mud. It was winter: they told me they had kept their clothes on under the blankets. They were ‘acting’ the parts of hunger strikers, just as Hamilton had depicted one. In the last three decades a number of (mostly male) performance artists have put their bodies through extremes of endurance. Sometimes with the aid of real or simulated human waste, viscera, blood, selfincarceration, fasting, wounding, or just plain long distance endurance. For example, there was Stuart Brisley, who confronted ‘… his audience with the state of alienation and its effect on the individual … By extension the performer or individual represents a model for society … Sometimes the model is of society in general … At other times it can be more specific …(eg) ‘You know it makes sense’ 1972, which was a direct reaction to the news of torture by the British Army in Northern Ireland …”21 “Brisley the artist re-enacts the state of alienation … At Gallery House (in another work)he spent days immersed in a bathtub of cold water and offal”. Brisley’s wholly admirable concern was, and is, to confront society artistically with the political truths of its time. Another example is Alastair MacLennan, spending 72 hours in a prison of his own devising, naked, or dressed in the ambiguous costume of an urban terrorist. Perhaps one effect on spectators of the work of artists who put themselves through physical extremes is a form of catharsis.

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We may feel more able to cope with the horror of the conflict in Northern Ireland because we have witnessed a man in extremis in that (simulated) context, or against that background. We may feel purged, but we may also feel absolved from guilt. Hermann Nitsch, the Austrian action artist, in the 60s, used animal carcasses to re-create Dionysian rituals, which he felt embraced the origins of Christian ceremonies such as the mass. Nitsh’s use of naked (live) human bodies, the application to their genitalia of animal entrails, the self-humiliation of other contemporary artists (Günter Brus, Otto Mühl) and their focus on defecation seem to have been singular developments of post-war Viennese culture. Attention has been drawn to the role of neo-Dada-ism, outrageous behaviour, ‘blasphemy’ and anal obsession in a psychological and cultural reaction to the Nazi era; see Adrian Henri, ‘Environments & Happenings’22. In the USA, individual physical endurance as part of art performance developed at a time when political realities had their own theatrical dimension. In New York in the late 60s, Vito Acconci punished his own body and masturbated under a gallery floor. The political and criminal violence of the USA in the 60s and 70s produced a number of ‘happenings’ that sought to reflect the times. The end of the 20th century has been marked by a crop of physical ‘body artists’ whose work has further extended the use (some would say abuse) of the physical envelope. They include Stelarc, Franco B., and Orlan. Viewing this work can be contextualised in different ways, and it seems to require commentary, and even deconstruction. One is conscious of an ‘industry’ of academic research becoming a substitute for the public gaze. Inevitably, given the nature of the work – dealing with prosthetics. Blood, plastic surgery – much commentary is second-hand. There is always a degree of voyeuristic entertainment to be derived from watching a performance. There is also the operation of what Peggy Phelan refers to as the ‘exchange of gaze’; ‘Seeing the other is a social form of selfreproduction. For in looking at/for the other, we seek to represent ourselves to ourselves.’ (Phelan, 1974: 21) Does this make the spectator always complicit? In post-revolutionary Portugal, Shirley Cameron ‘exhibited’ herself and her infant twin daughters in a cage, and incurred some anger from spectators who felt, as a ‘working artist’ she should have employed child-minders.

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Her under-funded life style made this impossible, unlike that of some of the richer, French artists present (Third International Artists’ Meeting, Caldas Da Rainha, 1977). The cage performance was both necessary and politically relevant. Wencke Mulheisen, performing with her group ‘Selbstdarstellung’ (Self-representation) in the 2nd Lyon Performance Symposium, 1980, inflicted cold water, hot water, dirty water, filth and (German) verbal abuse on her little group of naked, cowering victims, who never fought back, or ran away. It was a demonstration of true sadomasochism, with the ‘artist’ in absolute control. Some spectators were disturbed by the use of the German language, but nobody intervened. After the performance it became clear that we had seen an example of ‘drama-therapy’. The ‘victims’ were apparently Fräulein Mulheisen’s paying clients. Pain in the East As we have seen, the romanticised human body can be watched in pain as sport. The pain is either a by-product of extreme physical effort, for money, for glory; or a tactical weapon in ‘contact’ sports. Religious pain is both theatrical – an imitation of martyrdom – and ecstatic. Physical extremes, like fasting, may induce a spiritual state of trance. Penance is induced by guilt. The simulation of pain and of alienation is essentially mimetic. Self-induced artistic pain may partake of all of these, it has always been strong theatre. Amongst artists performing in the Czech and Slovak Republics, and in Poland, during the communist era, pain, self-inflicted pain, was a metaphor for a political system under which they all lived. Unlike state-subsidised avant-garde art in the West, performance art was rarely, if ever ‘official’ in the East. There was no need to demonstrate simulated imprisonment when you had the experience of real prison to call on. Milan Knížák is a Czech artist well known in the West because he was imprisoned by the State for antisocial tendencies. He made public performances in Czecho-Slovakia throughout the 60s (Today he is Dean of the Prague Academy of Art).

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The East European artists whose work can now, since 1989, be seen in documentary form, whose actions were part of the cultural and political underground, did not suffer from self-imposed pain, but they lived in pain, in common with the majority of their fellow citizens. I saw Petr Štembera, for example, from Prague, perform in Poland in 1978, at an artists’ gathering near Poznan. He drew himself along the floor, flat on his stomach, hands tied behind him, over two lines of back and white powder, one for each leg. He was striving to reach the end of these lines, but as he moved, an assistant poured acid onto strings trailing behind his bare feet. The acid burned away the strings, so that gradually, like a lit fuse, the splashes of acid came closer to his bare, upturned feet. The question was, would he reach the end of the lines of powder before the acid had burned away the strings and touched his flesh? In another action in the same year he balanced his chin on a thin sheet of glass, and pushed it forward, along the floor, risking injury. Tomáš Ruller, literally, played with fire in Opatov in 1988. He set fire to his jacket before running in front of a block of flats. Jiří Sozanský and partner demonstrated the life of a couple sharing a cage with a ‘skeleton’. The group P.O.P. showing a naked Promethean male figure tied, in turn, to the earth, to grass, to a rock, and to an uprooted tree23. These performances were often given for small, secretive audiences, or for the camera alone, because the very act of making avant-garde art was an offence in the eyes of the State. The meanings of the actions were close to the spectators, because they knew that what was represented metaphorically could happen, (might already have happened) literally, and painfully, to them, courtesy of the State. An audience witnessing a cathartic mimetic act, by contrast, distanced from the reality on which it is based, knows that what is represented is unlikely to happen to them, nor is it (or has it) really happen(ed)ing to the performer. The artist, like the actor, intends the audience to understand the nature of the horror, which they are being shown by an act of descriptive representation. Nobody involved in a cultural exchange needs to actually experience what is being shown. The blinding of Oedipus or Gloucester in King Lear, can only work if it is not real.

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Shakespeare came a small step nearer to reality, and away from Aristotle by showing the eyes put out, in Lear, instead of describing the action. The artists being considered here were living within the situation they sought to represent, which their audiences (if any) were also themselves experiencing. When the Polish artist Zbigniew Warpechowski performed in England in November 198124, he deliberately pierced his hand on a 6-inch nail, illustrating the dilemma of a people caught by history, politics and religion, fixed in time and place. A Christ-like act, it was entirely within the artist’s lived experience. The authenticity of the action caused some distress in the English audience. Shortly after Warpechowski’s return to Poland, General Jaruzelski’s government declared martial law against Solidarity, and the era of imprisonment and State terrorism started over again.

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NOTES
1 2

Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, speaking on Radio 4, 21st February 2000 M.M. Bakhtin ‘Rabelais and His World’ 1965 tr. Hélène Iswolsky, pub. Indiana Univerity Press, Bloomington 1984 3 Bakhtin op.cit. 4 John Ruskin: ‘Modern Painters’ 1868 5 Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain OUP 1985) p 286 defines the pathetic fallacy: The performing of an act of ‘animation’ by a poet or a painter. ‘Animism’ occurs “When, as in old mythologies or religious, nonsentient objects such as rocks or rivers or statues or images of gods are themselves spoken about as though they were sentient (or alternatively, themselves endowed with the power of sentient speech)”. 6 W. Wordsworth, enlargement, 1802, of the 1800 Preface to ‘The Lyrical Ballads’. 7 R. Miller, ‘Faces from Another Country’, Artists Newsletter, March 1986 8 Andrew Graham-Dixon (The Independent, 22nd January 1991) ‘The notion of cultural repudiation, the rejection of all previous artistic models or practices, lay at the heart of modernism. By the end of the 1960s this had acquired, paradoxically, the force of a convention; an orthodoxy of the unorthodox, which had finally penetrated the citadel of the art school. Students and their tutors were dedicated to pushing back the frontiers of the avant-garde. They discovered the vast new territories of Conceptual Art, Land Art, Performance Art … These are big tendencies, oceanic swells in the history of modern culture.’ 9 Quoted by Bill Zehme, in ‘Lost in the Funhouse: The life and mind of Andy Kaufman’; London, Fourth Estate: 2000 10 originally pubished in French in 1936, reprinted in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968. Trans. Harry Zohn: pp. 214 and 247. 11 Yale, New Haven, 1998 12 Richard Schechner; 1977 ‘Essays on Performance Theory’, New York: Drama Book Specialists. 13 The two videos were filmed by Karen Dickenson and Cathy Wilson 14 on 17th January 1973 Miller, Cameron and other artists known as ‘Yorkshire Artists’ Collection (sic)took part in an event at the Hull Arts Centre, organized by Genesis P. Orrige as part of the ‘Fanfare for Europe’ Arts Festival, to mark British entry into the European Economic Community (EEC). The event was titled ‘Winston Spencer Churchill’ 15 see volume II, photographs 16 William Wordsworth; 1798 ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ 17 Peggy Phelan, op. cit.; Herbert Blau ‘To All Appearances – Ideology and performance’ Routledge, New York & London 1992; Stanton B. Garner ‘Bodied Spaces – Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama’ Cornell Univeristy Press, Ithaca & London 1994 18 Erving Goffman; ‘Frame Analysis’; 1975 London, Penguin Books. 19 ‘The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew, King of the Beggars’ 1885 London, Kennard Press 20 Geoff Dyer, The Guardian June 13th, 1992 21 (Caroline Tisdall, Studio International, Performance issue vol. 192 No. 982 July/August 1976)

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22 23

Adrian Henri; 1974 ‘Environments and Happenings’; London, Thames & Hudson photographs of these actions have appeared both here and in the Czech and Slovak Republics since 1989 24 the performance took place at The Oval House, South London

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Chapter 2
The artist as perceptive receptacle Reviewing Calvino’s story “La Poubelle Agéée” (‘The acknowledged dustbin’) published in the collection ‘The Road to San Giovanni’, Clive Sinclair writes: ‘If one is what one does not throw away, as he puts it, then the choice between what to keep and what to cast off becomes vitally important. Calvino touches on the act of writing itself, which turns out to be yet another variation on the theme of possession and dispossession. The discarded drafts of “La Poubelle Agréée” and the thing itself, once pubished, become analogous to the lemon rind; discarded objects no longer part of the self.1 We do two things when we are born and then daily, every time we wake from sleep. We apprehend our surroundings, our circumstance (or ‘look about us’) and we take stock (or ‘find out what we need’). From this first assessment, come notions of desire, hunger, fear, discomfort, pain, and the un-named longings for things we cannot describe; we search for ways of easing our predicament or satisfying our need from our surroundings. Culture is the system that anticipates the needs, and establishes a satisfactory relationship between need and circumstance. The relationship need not be harmonious, it may be oppositional. Wordsworth’s interest in the poet being like any other man, only different in degree, able to see more clearly, speak more vividly, is a contradiction. If you see poverty but don’t share it, if you secure your own wealth by selling images of poverty (contemporary photographers and film makers) or if you change something by the act of measuring it (Heisenberg’s principle) that you are no longer like the ‘other’ people you are observing. Perhaps this is an inevitable condition of the process of observation. The dilemma is illuminated by Peggy Phelan’s ‘exchange of gaze’. One of the problems, I think, with this is our faith in the probity of ‘objectivity’. But is an objective judgement really possible? If objectivity means ‘without subjective influence’ who can be without a subjective tinting of their view? Being in a position to gaze, having the confidence, the time, to do so, reveals some privilege over those gazed upon.

The very act of observation makes a difference, hence the impossibility of true objectivity. Hence, also, the difference between the one who sees and the one who is seen – the object of ‘the gaze’. Did Wordsworth think himself invisible when he gazed at the innocent peasants? Jack Kerouac wrote about the wild, creative freedom of the road, a theme filmed in Easy Rider. The road narrative has moved from the European tradition of picaresque novels (Tom Jones, Don Quixote) to Hollywood. A cultural form that focuses on an individual (an outsider) who passes through a landscape and intervenes briefly in the lives of others, who are framed by the state in which they are forced to live – usually by poverty or some other deprivation – satisfies on several levels. Seeing life through another’s eyes is safe, being free to leave when you want is also safe. To ascribe the fate of people who are oppressed to the environment in which they live is non-judgemental, and it also permits hope – these people could get away, if only. Like the narrative form itself, the form of objective observation is in fact deterministic. This is the foundation of some apparent contradictions of contemporary culture. The appeal of the ‘bad girl’ – Madonna, Laura Palmer, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin – the delight in low-life film and rock music – James Dean, Walters, Lynch, Sid Vicious – punk and grunge fashion. In some layers of culture, individuals are perceived to be stuck in a situation of extremity, usually grounded in poverty, inevitably a prey to drugs, drink, sexual exploitation. The free individuals can escape and re-enter, captives can’t. This is romantic, because the individual also has the potential for creative escape (sometimes through those same drugs) and reconciliation with nature, harmony with the environment. The problem is, it seems, that individuals cannot be content with the extreme situation they find themselves in. In part this is a source of ambition, survival, the evolutionary urge, and in part it is a source of discontent, rebellion, revolution. The dilemma of capitalism is that it shows no clear way to the success it advertises; it does not tell how expectations are to be fulfilled. The dilemma of socialism is that it knows how needs are to be met, but cannot bring that about. Both systems seem to pose opposites – capitalism will raise expectations, but ignore needs, socialism will deny expectations and meet needs.

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But for most people, needs become expectations. Once you have attained a secure supply of food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and education, or the work to pay for it, then you go for improvement of your lifestyle. Capitalism, Socialism and any other political system propose that final aim ‘improving quality of life’ without necessarily knowing or caring what that will involve. Is the role of the arts in this problematic dialogue to represent the needs or the expectations? In terms of performance, is the role of the representational, mimetic arts to show the ideal, the most satisfying level of human experience, where expectations have been satisfied? Or the lowest level, where needs have not been satisfied? The Cinema uses simple, graphic images to achieve both, and film actors have their mimetic performances frozen in time, to portray ‘universal’ values. Most 20th century artforms reflect in some way the great dilemma, created in the 18th century, the struggle between capital and work, between industry and happiness, between wealth and poverty, between luxury and hunger. Wordsworth, and other Romantics associated their aspirations with communities that they could survey from a hilltop. Where should we seek the contemporary artist’s role? Representing others, or transmitting a personal predicament and perception of life? Edward Said, in delivering the BBC’s Reith Lecture in 1993, described an intellectual as an individual who stood outside institutions and political organisations, and whose role was to question, to be a sceptic. E.P. Thompson2 wrote: ‘One must, to survive as an unassimilated socialist in this infinitely assimilative culture, put oneself into a school of awkwardness. One must make one’s sensibility all knobbly – all knees and elbows of susceptibility and refusal.’ Ben Vautier, the French artist and performer known as Ben, adopted as his motto ‘Doute sur tout’. Is the role of an artist now changing? At a conference of the European Region of the International Association of Art (IAA), ‘Artists in the New Europe’3, an artists’ Charter was adopted that contained the following statement, based upon a contribution from the delegation from Finland: “In society the creation of art is not to be considered to be only a trade or a form of business but a form of basic research; and a work of art is an object only in the same sense as a research report is an object.

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The idea, its essential insight, becomes freely available to all society forever and as such cannot be bought and sold.” The IAA proposal is grounded on the concept of intellectual property rights. Whatever happens to the object, whoever buys it, owns it, it is nothing more than the ‘concrete support’ for the idea. Objects may be bought and sold, ideas cannot be. It is the internationally recognised intellectual-property laws, such as copyright, that protect the freedom of ideas and of their creators. Much of the support system for the artists, writers, musicians and other primary creators, depends on a recognition that ideas are free, but the concrete support or ‘fixation’ by means of which they are given expression (book, painting, sculpture, score, choreography, etc.) is copyright protected, and that protection is a means of channelling reward to the creator. Which is why, in France, copyright is recognised as ‘a human right’. In British copyright law, performances are protected by performance right, or ‘rights in performance’. These rights are neither assignable nor transmissible, although consent may be given, by the performer, for a specific act of copying. The consent may be ‘by conduct or verbally’; it does not have to be in writing. These provisions are new, in the 1988 Act, and may be taken as evidence of a fresh recognition of the importance both of the act of performance and the economic dominance of the recording and broadcasting media. Whether or not copyright legislation can ever keep pace with technological progress is quite another matter. Since infringement of rights in performance4 is a civil offence, not a criminal one (as in the case of copyright), the possibility of rights protection will depend on financial resources, not justice. Claims for and recognition of ‘a new role for artists in the 21st century’ seem theoretical at a time when many institutions are being subjected to an extreme form of ideological capitalism.

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If after many generations, artists who had been perceived as essentially makers of objects, as artisans, as the suppliers of commodities, are no longer fulfilling those roles, are they now taking on the same role as poets, or scientists? Is this just another romantic conceit? Shelley wrote that: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”5 Mikhail Bakhtin was acutely aware of the problematics of ideological determinism in the arts, and Walter Benjamin perceived the strength of ‘demand side’ economics on cultural production. The dilemmas with which artists were faced in the late 20th century were to some extent a result of 18th and 19th century theories and conflicts. The effects of the first Industrial Revolution and the second, technological revolution have shattered artists’ relatively simple dubiety. The 21st century offers multiple choices with little theoretical or ideological guidance. To be free of economic determinism and ethical restraint is, possibly, no freedom at all. The global market economy that guarantees this freedom from want, for some, seems to demand a close adhesion to laws of supply and demand. Economic laws, encapsulated in the phrase ‘you can’t buck the market’, that effectively circumscribe choice. Corporatism works because shareholders, who have bought into corporations, think only corporatism works, and it seems only shareholders can unseat corporations. The current flowing from representation to performance Herbert Blau, in ‘To all appearances – ideology and performance’ points out that performance work in America in the 70s and 80s (Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray, the West Coast Feminists, Judy Chicago, etc.) incorporated a type of experimental ‘acting’ of ‘the real’ in their work. This, he says, has become professionalized through the accretion of experience, but perhaps also out of necessity. He cites Laurie Anderson – performance artist and singer, using more sophisticated technical means in her work.

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‘There was of course the famous experiment when Stanislavski, wanting the freshest emotion and “real” behaviour on stage, brought people from off the street. It was apparently effective in Moscow for its historical moment, as it has been recently in New York, with a sort of reverse methodology whereby participants in the Theater event are moved around the city, to the Bowery or darkest Brooklyn, to see the indigence and misery of their unmediated state. Not even fresh contingents, however, of the worldwide supply of street people would guarantee in all their lifelike resemblance a spontaneous continuum of artless emotion. Objects of mediation, they are under surveillance too, with cardboard shelters perhaps, but with the global processing of contemporary behaviour – and batteries of television in department store windows – even the outcast or dispossessed may be watching themselves on the evening news. As for the emergent groups of inexperienced performers, the personal may be political, but without exceptional disciplines or the extremist measures of camp or carnivalesque, they will tend to reflect the deepest feelings through an established repertoire of behavioural images and emotional forms. So far as a political theatre is concerned it may well be, as sometimes argued, all the more effective for that.’ (Blau, 1992: 136-7) The Sheffield-based theatre group ‘Forced Entertainment’ have carried out a similar expedition into the poorer parts of the city, taking their audience on a coach trip. Other theatre groups exist in the UK whose company members are drawn from the marginalized (homeless, substance abusers) whom they wish to represent to audiences composed of the notmarginalised, non-abusers(?). I propose that all artistic creation, all that part of culture (for culture has many aspects, only one of which is artistic) which depends on artistic creation is divided between the imitative, descriptive or representational and the performed or experiential. These categories are not, of course, exclusive. The division is a larger distinction than one between ‘creative’ and ’interpretive’, between for example the musical composer and the player of the music. That distinction is inadequate in the field of improvised music, where an individual with a musical instrument is capable of composing whilst playing.

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The purpose of this representational/performance distinction is to facilitate a deeper relationship between art and life, and a more vital role for the arts in society. For whilst representational arts have a legitimate function in depicting a state of affairs, a human condition relationship or emotion, they derive from observation and depend upon a ‘gaze’ directed at a largely passive subject. The ‘performance arts’ however, are based on authentic experience which is expressed through heightened behaviour, actions made more emphatic, beyond the purely practical or utilitarian. Performance should be capable of realigning the perception of the world that Herbert Marcuse identified when he wrote: ‘Art is committed to that perception of the world which alienates individuals from their functional existence and performance in society.’ I would redirect Marcuse’s implied criticism of art, and suggest that the arts are capable of being committed to a perception of the world which equips individuals to see their functional existence and express it through performance in society. Of course the word ‘performance’ in Marcuse’s original sentence means ‘efficacy’, and is used as in the vocabulary of management studies. I prefer to stress the meaning of performance that emphasizes the process rather than the result. This is the meaning of performance that brings it close to both early forms of cultural expression – ritual, magical and incantatory dance – and abstraction in modern art. Performance is the doing of actions that express the condition of the doer. Representation is mimetic or descriptive, and will be judged in terms of the fidelity of the result to the original. Performance is the original, but extended beyond utility. Italo Calvino’s “The disposal of garbage is a ceremonial act of purification, ridding us of the squeezed lemon of living … a discarded object no longer part of the self.”6 I suggest that the artist (poet, actor, musician) is an intellectual who throws away garbage in a ceremonial act. The performance artist is the one who throws him or herself (the work of art) away, over and over again. But no object is created. To discard oneself is to die, and the creative act is always, like the sexual act,

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Une petite more, a little death. Besides, death is part of the organic cycle, and leads to a form of reincarnation, albeit as carbon. Even the performed and the imitative cross over. Aristotelian, classic divisions were pressed into service throughout the development of Western civilization. Icelandic sagas are described as ‘poetry’ when they were probably story-telling theatre. Carvings by the Inuit as sculpture when they were probably incantations. Aboriginal sand paintings as – paintings, when they were who knows what? Maps, songs, maps of songs? The Jacobean masque in 17th century Britain; or the Venetian, and the mediaeval French carnivals, and the Afro-Caribbean Maas are forms that defy precise artistic definition. Classical demarcations were not seriously challenged until Wagner, who invented the idea of the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’. As in other fields, German invention refined received Classical knowledge. But if, instead of looking for separations we look for connecting currents, we may say that all artistic production flows from one pole to another. Art and artist are words that derive from the idea of putting things together, something produced by human skill as opposed to that which naturally occurs. At one pole could be placed the creation of something, and at the other pole the carrying out of an action. At one end the things made to represent or imitate or record, at the other an activity. In once sense the activity pole, which can be called ‘performance’ may be compared to an aspect of nature, for it is like the cycle of life and death. The act of maturing and dying leads seamlessly into rebirth and life in natural processes, often on an annual time-scale. The object completed, the ‘work of art’, on the other hand is intended to be timeless, to be static, and to outlive the creator. The art object confers a sort of immortality on its creator, but is itself a dead, finished object. One of the difficulties in trying to assess the place of ‘performance’ in general cultural activity lies in the nature of theater. Theatre involves personation, but it is not simple imitation. Acting is a mimetic art, mime is its foundation. Why then do we admire actors (particularly) in film, who seem ‘natural’ and, in effect , play themselves?

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They become stars: Michael Caine, John Wayne, Brigitte Bardot, Gina Lollobrigida, directed by people like Frederico Fellini, who made the ordinary seem miraculous and yet avoided naturalism. To appreciate acting, we either set aside all other aesthetic decisions and a great deal of straightforward observation (in other words we ‘suspend disbelief’) or we demand total fidelity to life. There are numerous dilemmas here. How should we approach cross-casting, in race, gender and ability terms? Hanif Kureishi in ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ puts these words into the mouth of a radical and trendy theatre director (Matthew Pyke) “What a strange business this acting is … you are trying to convince people that you’re someone else, that is not-me. The way to do it is this, he said; when in character, playing not-me, you have to be yourself. To make your not-self real you have to steal from your authentic self … The closer you play to yourself the better. Paradox of paradoxes: to be someone else successfully you must be yourself!” (Kureshi, 1990: 219) In formal, classical theatrical forms, like Japanese Noh, or Indian Kathakali, the amount of ‘self’ in an actor’s performance is small, and may be visible only in the free movement of the eyeballs beneath the eyebrows, movements controlled by the conventions of the form. Much of the interest in theatre is in seeing how much of the self can be expressed within the controlled form. In some theatre there is little form and total self, this either praised or condemned, depending on your viewpoint. This ambivalence is currently being exploited in some film and television formats, often referred to as ‘docusoaps’. Deliberate confusion of documentary (reportage)and dramatic fiction has been used by British television presenters such as Ali G. and Chris Morris, and in American films like ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘The Truman Show’. Is this territory also inhabited by performance artists? Examples of ‘Individual experience as a performed act – in context’ can be found in contemporary culture. Several of the artists referred to above (part I chapter 1) – for example:

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Vito Acconci, Franco B., Stuart Brisley, Shirley Cameron, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Orlan, Stelarc, Petr Štembera, Zbigniew Warpechowski, have displayed their own experience directly as their artwork. It is not such an unusual strategy. Much of the directness, rawness, and inevitably, vicarious (voyeuristic?) pleasures derived from contemporary artforms comes about because of a fundamental connection with performance. There is an important difference between art as a live activity, trying to dodge codification, and commercial exploitation, and (high) art as an investment commodity and a protected text. Performance, stripped of its financial framework, is a freely accessible event, close to the experience of life. The s tarting point for performance probably was the liminal rite of passage, the atavistic ritual. Ian Starsmore, an art historian has written: ‘For a long time I found myself confused by the lack of energy and purpose in so many art establishments. I felt there was more of what I recognised as art in places like fairgrounds, allotments and garden sheds … I was attracted by the amount of creativity, by the fact that there were things being made which were beautiful and useful, and were not totally self-referential. Because I wanted to make a coherent argument of all this, to try and check what my instincts were telling me, I made careful notes about popular art, bricolage, etc. in the best way I could. The thing which finally seemed to make sense of my searches in books and sheds was the discovery of a sentence in Hans Hess’s ‘Pictures as Arguments’. Hans had one taught me but I hadn’t understood him at all then – “The introduction of primitive forms into Western Art has an implicit recognition of the equal validity of all forms of human expression”. I suddenly realised that this was a straightforward way of saying one of the first things to be seen in Cubism, which is that it points to and assumes the traditions of Africa, where art is both object and performance. Further than this it became crystal clear how sort is the still dominant Renaissance tradition compared with the thousands of years old tradition of art as performance … Before paintings were on canvas, they were on bodies. (Cameron, 1979: 32)

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1

Italo Calvino, born in Cuba 1923, survived imprisonment in Aushwitz, committed suicide, Italy 19th November 1985. Clive Sinclair’s review of ‘The Road to San Giovanni’ collected stories by Italo Calvino appeared in The Independent on Sunday 07/11/93. 2 E.P. Thomson; ‘Customs in common’: London, The Merlin Press 3 Dublin, September 1993 4 Rights in performance were introduced in the UK in the 1988 Copyright Act. They are not the same as copyright, but ‘a new civil law right’ (Flint, 1990: 102) which retains many of the characteristics of copyright legislation. Michael Flint (1990: 14) has this interesting paragraph: ‘It will be noted that the requirement of fixation does not apply to artistic works.’ (As it does to literary, dramatic, and musical works.)’ ‘Performance Art’ will probably be protected as a dramatic work. Apart from this example, it is difficult to conceive of any work that is commonly regarded as art that does not, in any event, have a tangible form.’ 5 Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822): from ‘A Defense of Poetry’ 1821 6 Italo Calvino op. cit.

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Chapter 3
Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) Between the first visit to Chişinãu, in Moldova (May 1998) and the second, in October of the same year, Bakhtin’s text ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’1 became a central reference point for the performances. In particular, the concept of ‘postupok’. The original Russian title of Bakhtin’s ‘unfinished philosophical essay’ (Bakhtin, 1993: xxi), first published in 1986 is ‘K filosofii postupka. Liapunov writes, in his translator’s preface to Bakhtin’s text; ‘This individually answerable deed of mine Bakhtin calls postupok (etymologically, the noun means “a step taken” or “the taking of a step”) in distinction to the more general akt (the Russian equivalent of the Latin actus and actum). Bakhtin’s whole (projected) essay is centrally concerned with the phenomenon of my postupok, my individually answerable deed or performance, and with the world in which my postupok orients itself on the basis of its unique participation in Being as ongoing event (the world of a unique, individual life as a postupok).’2 Bakhtin’s first use of the term is: ‘Every thought of mine, along with its content, is an act or deed that I perform – my own individually answerable act or deed {postupok} (Bakhtin, 1993: 3) In his note on this passage, Liapunov states: ‘Postupok … This is Bakhtin’s fundamental term throughout; he uses the word in the singular, presumably in order to bring out the focus on its singularity or uniqueness, on its being this particular action and no other, performed (answerably or responsibly) by this particular individual at this particular time and in this particular place. Furthermore, the focus is on the performing of the act or deed, or on the act or deed as it is being performed in opposition to the consideration of the act post factum (the act that has been performed).’ (Bakhtin, 1993: 81) Consideration of this early Bakhtinian exploration of what is clearly a matter of moral philosophy provides a useful reference point in seeking a theoretical basis for the praxis of performance art.

The particularity, or specificity and answerability of an individual’s action (performance) relates to the self-contained individual responsibility or artistic decisions that characterises much modernist and post-modernist artistic activity. Bakhtin was right to view this as an ethical problem. Bakhtinian consideration of the carnivalesque, from the epistemological, rather than the purely literary viewpoint, cannot be simply adduced from his work on Rabelais3, if one is seeking a wider cultural context for an analysis of carnival as praxis. The work on Rabelais displays ‘Bakhtin’s notion of carnival (is) appealingly based on the historical carnivals of the Middle Ages, which, he says, have survived in certain kinds of writing: the disruptive, profane, grotesquely realistic.’ (Vice, 1997: 6) Vice goes on the compare ‘Bakhtin’s discussion of the features and functions of the grotesque body with (Julia) Kristeva’s psychoanalytic view of the same phenomena, which she calls ‘the abject’. (Vice, 1997: 6) ‘Many of the images and practices which go to make up grotesque realism also fall under the heading of the Kristevan abject. Both Bakhtin and Kristeva are interested in five central categories: the margins of the body; the maternal; food; death; and the text. Bakhtin’s approach to each attempts to reclaim a positive sense of the grotesque. Kristeva, by contrast, tries to explain why the phenomena associated with each of these categories might seem to us as ‘coarse and grotesque’, disgusting, or obscene.’ (Vice, 1997: 163)4 The presence of elements of abjection in contemporary visual art (in for example the work of Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Franco B. in Britain and of other artists in other countries) does not immediately connect with the phenomenon of carnival. However, the linked praxes of performance art and street arts are a ground in which both abjection and the carnivalesque feature. The identification of the term ‘carnival’ with confrontational street demonstrations5 has a historical precedent in the politicised ‘happenings’ of the 6f0s and 70s. Demonstrations against nuclear armaments, the Vietnam War, world hunger included and were sometimes organised by performance artists6.

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These political manifestations employ elements of the carnivalesque, just as the larger carnival events, such as Notting Hill contain a strong element of the political, albeit masked. The photograph by Jane Bown (The Observer, 1969) that Henri uses to illustrate the section of Great Britain in his chapter on Happenings shows Miller as a member of the People Show being force-fed spaghetti on the pavement in front of St. Martins in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, whilst a policeman carefully looks the other way. This image contains the grotesque, the transgressive, the carnivalesque, and the abject. It also uses food. The meaning is deliberately ambivalent. In another incident during the same ‘festival’ against world hunger, members of the People Show pushed large, bloody, bones from animal carcasses in through the open windows of passing cars. Michael Gardiner points out, in an essay on Bakhtin and MerleauPonty that they both argue that ‘it is only be jettisoning the stubborn residue of Cartesianism that remains mired in Western thought and adopting a more ‘dialogical’ world-view that we can grasp the intrinsically open, interactive nature of bodies and selves as they co-exist within a shared life-world … Yet there is no deconstruction of the subject as such in their writings: the self remains an active, engaged agent, the initiator of a series of ongoing projects.’ (Gardiner, 1998: 129) Bakhtin seems to suggest that such an act (s) exists in ‘the real world’ as opposed to the worlds of literature, art, culture, or academia. In this other academic/cultural world human acts are described, but do not occur. In ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ Bakhtin writes: “Every thought of mine, along with its content, is an act or deed that I perform – my own individually answerable act or deed {postupok}. It is one of all those acts which make up my whole once-occurrent life as an uninterrupted performing of acts {postuplenie}.’ (Bakhtin, 1993: 3) It seems that in this text Bakhtin was attempting an early formulation of moral philosophy. The text was not published in Russia until 1986, and it appears that what we have, in two large fragments, is only the first part of what Bakhtin had planned as a four-part treatise. Bakhtin apparently worked on the text in Vitebsk in the early 1920s, according to S.G. Bocharov, writing in the introduction to the Russian edition. Bakhtin seems to have been primarily concerned with the ‘answerability’ of the performer of the ‘postupok’.
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In another part of the text Bakhtin writes: “The contemporary crisis is, fundamentally, a crisis of contemporary action {postupok}. An abyss has formed between the motive of the actually performed act or deed and its product. But in consequence of this, the product of the deed, severed from its ontological roots, has withered as well. Money can become the motive of the deed that constructs a moral system. In relation to the present moment, economic materialism is in the right, although not because the motives of the actually performed act have penetrated inside the product but rather the reverse: the product in its validity walls itself off from the actually performed act in its actual motivation. But the situation … can be rectified only from within the act itself.” (Bakhtin, 1993: 55) Some of these ideas expressed in Bakhtin’s text influenced performances created and given in Central Europe in 1998. In particular, in May 1998, in Chişinãu, the original ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’ performance – imported more or less intact from England – was abandoned in favour of the interim ‘What We Bring and What We Find’. This was performed in Chişinãu and then developed in Sf. Gheorghe (Transylvania) in October ’98. The performance ‘Postupok’, directly derived from Bakhtin’s text, was first given in Nové Zamký, Slovakia, and subsequently in Budapest and Glasgow. On the territory of the former Soviet Union (Moldova), the passage quoted above from Bakhtin seemed to be particularly significant. The reference to technology is another point at which Bakhtin’s opinions from 1920s Russia seemed relevant to 1990s Moldova. ‘… the world of technology: it knows its own immanent law, and it submits to that law in its imperious and unrestrained development, in spite of the fact that it has long evaded the task of understanding the purpose of that development, and may serve evil rather than good … All that which is technological, when divorced from the once-occurrent unity of life and surrendered to the will of the law immanent to its development, is frightening; it may from time to time irrupt(sic)into this once-occurrent unity as an irresponsibly destructive and terrifying force.’ Bakhtin, 1993: 7)

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The performance events in Chişinãu were under the auspices of the Soros Foundation for an Open Society, which is heavily committed to electronic information technology, and the free market economy. George Soros, ideas, his attempt to find a ‘third way’ between two massive power blocks of the cold war hold an obvious attraction to Central Europeans today. Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) had been one of the thinkers whom my friend Zbigniew Warpenchowski spoke of when we first met him in 1976, and subsequently when he invited us to Poland (1978-1980). As a performance artist, Warpechowski has always drawn heavily on a personal philosophy that places what I would now call the ‘postupok’ above any other considerations. The dedication and physicality with which Warpechowski does this continues to impress. But there are times when his work has displayed a forthright disregard for moral implications. Is this position derived from an adherence to Spenglerian precepts? Which Bakhtin seems to refer to in the following passage. ‘(Splenger) opposed the deed to theory, and, in order to escape from winding up in a void, he inserts history in the space between them. If we take the contemporary deed in isolation from self-contained theory, we end up with a biological or with an instrumental act. History will not save it, for it is not rooted in the ultimate oneoccurrent unity. Life can be consciously comprehended only in concrete answerability. A philosophy of life can be only a moral philosophy.’ (Bakhtin, 1993: 56) In the passage (above) in which he refers to the dangers of a purely functional technology, Bakhtin expresses a strong fear of that which is immanent, which exists only in the mind. This early Bakhtinian philosophical position is consistent with his views on the grotesque. Sue Vice reads in these views a link with Julia Kristeva, and moreover an interesting correspondence with some current reactions to the further advances of capitalism and the ‘privation’ of society. ‘Bakhtin says that the ambivalence of grotesque realism is no longer properly understood. Contemporary readers see only the negative pole of … the bodily lower stratum in texts like Rabelais’; and any contemporary version of the grotesque will feature only its downward, not its regenerative aspect.

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The reason Bakhtin gives for the current absence of the grotesque is the onset of capitalism and privatized, individual life. A slightly different way to look at the grotesque, and the way in which, as Bakhtin recognizes, it will often be viewed by contemporary readers, is that of Julia Kristeva’s ‘abjection’. Kristevba’s influential essay on Bakhtin’s intertextuality and dialogism, ‘Word, Dialogue and Novel’, is dated 1966, a year after Rabelais and His World was pubished … In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Kristeva mentions Rebelais and carnival only in passing, but her concept of abjection could be seen as a psychoanalytically inflected development of Bakhtin’s grotesque.’ (Vice, 1997: 162, 163) Vice also draws attention to a commonality between Bakhtin and the work of Angela Carter: ‘Fevvers in Angela Carter’s picaresque novel Nights at the Circus, (1984) who is a symbol of ambivalence. Her identity and commercial success depend upon being poised between a freak of nature who really has wings, and a confidence trickster pretending to have them. Thus ‘{a}ll the old links between a man and his act, between an event and those who participate in it, fall apart’ Bakhtin, Discourse in the Novel, 1981: 408): almost literally in Fevver’s case, as her ‘act’ is that of a trapeze artist, and she is thought by some to be covering up the fact that she is really a man.’ (Vice, 1997: 70) In 1977 Carter wrote a performance script for Cameron, Miller and a Portuguese artist, Miguel Yeco. Titled ’Transformations of the Beasts’, it was performed in the same year in Bath. A local newspaper published a review from the following exerpt is taken: ‘The actors (sic!) start with grotesquely bestial outfits and strip down to ordinary civilised garb, then finally even further down to animal costumes again. They move from caged lairs of their own design to make polite conversation around a tea table, then back as beasts once more.’ (The Bath and West Evening Chronicle, November 4th 1977: 4) An important point overlooked by the reviewer was that the ‘animal costumes’ finally revealed were in fact bare (human) skins, decorated with animal markings.

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Thus we see that several aspects of Bakhtin’s thinking are relevant to performance art praxis in the 21st century. The one-off nature of the ‘performed’ Act, the essential sense of responsibility needed by the performer, the problems of instrumentality and functionality, the redemptive nature of abjection, and the danger of separating performer and act. Vice points out that in ‘Discourse in the Novel’, 1981, Bakhtin identifies the use in the novel of the device of the ‘unreliable narrator’, and that he ‘mentions’ ‘the cult of the child in Romantic literature’, which was ‘the image of the fool’ chosen by that particular ‘artistic trend’. (Vice, 1997: 68) Vice refers to the use of this device in novelists such as Ford Madox Ford and Angela Carter. It is another aspect of the persistence of the Romantic influence on contemporary visual and performance art, referred to in chapter 1.

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NOTES M.M. Bakhtin; ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ tr. Vadim Liapunov: Austin, University of Texas Press, 1993 2 Translator’s preface by Vadim Liapunov (Bakhtin, 1993: xix) 3 ‘Rabelais and his World’ tr. Hélène Iswolsky; Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1984 4 The Kristevan text that Vice refers to most in connection with Bakhtin’s concept of the grotesque is ‘Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection’ tr. Leon S. Rondiez, Columbia University Press, New York 1982 5 ‘Carnival against Capitalism’ is the title adopted by the (anonymous) organizers of the protests in Seattle and London (1999), Washington, D.C. and elsewhere (May 2000) against the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and other agencies of supra-national organizations. 6 See Adrian Henri’s ‘Environments and Happenings’, Thames & Hudson, London 1974 7 Michael Gardiner ‘The Incomparable Monster of Solipsism’ Bakhtin and MereauPonty’ in ‘Bakhtin and the Human Sciences, No Last Words’; ed. Michael Mayerfeld and Michael Gardiner, London, Sage, 1998
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Chapter 4 Collage and bricolage
With the documentation of a performance, as with other aspects of human behaviour, perceptions of the phenomenon may be altered. The perception post-documentation may be different from, and even at variance with, the impression given by direct, first-hand observation. Documentation has the potential to fix meaning, and this can apply to both secondary observers and those who were present at the original (and/or only) manifestation of the phenomenon under consideration. Peggy Phelan has addressed this issue in her book ‘Unmarked’. Phelan explores the psychology of representation, with particular emphasis on the gender implications of the observer’s gaze, and the power of reproductive economies to assign different, sometimes contrary meaning. In a chapter called ‘Broken symmetries: memory, sight, love’ (ch. 1) Phelan writes: ‘Performance is the art form which most fully understands the generative possibilities of disappearance. Poised for ever at the threshold of the present, performance enacts the productive appeal of the nonreproductive.’(Phelan, 1993: 27) These two sentences resonated with experience of creating performance art works. ‘The productive appeal of the nonreproductive’ expresses much of the attraction of conceptual art praxis in the hands of, for example Yoko Ono. One important difference between performance and an art-object is the self-documenting nature of the object. It is both the result of a process and the document that records the process. A painting is a document in which may be read the process of painting. A performance is not an object, and its traces are fragile, impermanent, transient. Baudrillard has written of the relationship between a photograph and ‘a phenomenological immobilization of appearances’ (Zubrugg, 1997: 31), see Introduction, p. 8. The photograph that remains after (but not necessarily of) the performance partakes of this quality. Phelan writes: ‘Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations; once it does so, it becomes something other than performance.

To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology. Performance’s being, like the ontology of subjectivity proposed here becomes itself through disappearance,’ (Phelan, 1993: 146). Baudrillard proposes a role for the photograph in creating silence and emptiness in the turmoil of the city, and by recording ‘one’s disappearance, causing ‘the other’ to appear (Baudrillard, 1997: 28). The forms of documentation adopted in the course of the two years’ (1998/99) development and realisation of ‘Incorporating’ should be seen in the light of both Phelan’s and Baudrillard’s theoretical discourses. This Chapter – 4 – is an analytical introduction to the section II – on documentation of the actual performance work(s). The final section of the current chapter: Conclusion – drawing a line and leaving a mark; deals with the relative values of video, still photography, and the ‘disappearance’ of the subject. The marketing of an object or service relies on a form of pre-emptive documentation. Publicity visuals say: ‘This is what it will look like.’ By association, advertising also says: ‘This is what your life will be like.’ So the projection of the car-image that the customer is offered carries an image of the customer as driver of the car, seducer of the girl, possessor of the nice wife and family. The power of the photographic image may subvert the ontology of the subject of the photograph. It may assign a different meaning. If the subject of a photograph does not keep control of the process, it may subvert him, or her. A blow-up still photograph of Miller’s street performance in Glasgow for Street Biz 19901 was displayed in the retrospective exhibition of photographs by the late George Oliver which was shown in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow in 1998. The photograph was not displayed in the section of the exhibition devoted to arts events, artists, or entertainers, but in a case labelled ‘Street Life’. The photograph was taken in Sauchiehall Street, and was flanked by other pictures, some dating from the early post-war years, of Glasgow ‘urchins’ and ‘characters’.

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The retrospective had been curated by Oliver’s widow, Cordelia Oliver, who is an arts journalist. The implied re-categorisation of Miller the performance artist was surprising. Both photographer and writer knew Miller as a performer. Oliver was knowingly photographing an arts ‘event’ in 1990 and his widow had written about the artist when he was performing with the People Show in Glasgow (1968/69). And yet it seems that Miller had been shifted from ‘art life’ into something that might be called ‘real’ life. A related field is that of the ‘grotesque’, referred to in Chapter 3. Bakhtin writes that ‘the grotesque ignores the impenetrable surface that closes and limits the body as a separate and completed phenomenon’ (Bakhtin, 1984: 317/318). Bakhtin makes it clear in an earlier passage that he is referring to the ‘artistic logic of the grotesque image’ in literature. Miller’s attempts to employ this imagery have relied on the artistic logic of ‘the performed image’.

Collage and Bricolage
These words describe two cultural processes. Collage is ‘(1) often abstract composition made of various materials (eg paper, cloth or wood) juxtaposed by the artist and fixed to a surface; (2) an assembly of diverse fragments <a collage of ideas>2. The term comes from the French verb ‘to glue’. Bricolage comes from the French: ‘do-it-yourself, D.I.Y.’ and is clearly related to bric-á-brac – ‘junk, odds and ends’3 The word bric-ábrac in its English usage enjoys a shifting set of meanings. The OED gives: ‘Old curiosities, knick-knacks, antiquarian odds and ends, such as furniture, plate, china, etc’4 Longman’s dictionary has ‘a miscellany of small articles, usually of ornamental or sentimental value; curios; broadly clutter’ Bric-á-brac acquired a usage in the 90s that was connected to fashions in interior design. It meant (of furniture) deliberately using a mixture of styles when decorating and equipping an interior space such as a café or bar.

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Contrary to first impressions, public spaces so furnished did not necessarily derive (or ‘source’) the furniture and fittings from second hand suppliers for the sake of economy. The heterogeneous chairs, lampshades, cutlery, china, books and prints are carefully selected because of their nostalgic appeal, and their familiarity to a generation of bourgeois customers whose childhoods may have been spent in domestic environments that were uncannily similar. The ‘postmodern’ interiors of the 90s have not created a distinctive new 90s style. Rather they have reworked Anglo-Saxon Edwardian British Empire petit bourgeois suburbanisam sometimes with irony. Though less distinct, and less pejorative in application, bric-á-brac as a style may be seen as analogous to the Biedermeier style popular in 19th century Germany. The characteristic of bric-á-brac that is most relevant to contemporary artistic creation and enquiry is the do-it-yourself or D.I.Y. mode. George McKay in his ‘Senseless acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties’ (1996) makes several references to D.I.Y. culture. 1. ‘In the 1990s in Britain there are an increasing number and variety of cultures of resistance, living what one road protester calls ‘the DIY lifestyle’. (p. 1) 2. (Of the Albion Fairs in East Anglia) ‘Whatever politics functions here in the early 1970s is a politics of rejection of technology, contribution to a hippy organic ideal through a parody of history. It also, though, predates the punk ethos of DIY.’ (p. 38) 3. ‘If the ravers came home to roost in 1966 five years after some mild disorder, what on earth have they done during the proclaimed Second Summer of Love in 1988, and in the years beyond? The ‘do-it-yourself times’ have spread over about three decades by now.’ (with rave culture) (p. 103) 4. ‘The struggles around the 1994 Criminal Justice Act are notable for their relative independence from the Labour Party and the left’ (quoted from Aufheben magazine5) – they constitute a sign of the bynow familiar autonomy of the New Protest and DIY culture.’ (p. 171)

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5. ‘{The}Book6is symptomatic of a new awareness, a force of empathy, wit, vision and community spirit which has given a fresh sense of empowerment and freedom. The scapegoated have become united like never before. The old channels of protest and party politics are dead. DIY Culture is creating homes and entertainment by the people for the people …’(p. 177) 6. ‘Springing from opposition to the Criminal Justice Act is an autonomous network outside parliamentary politics and largely outside Establishment pressure groups: this is DIY Culture, not new by any means, but possible bigger than ever before, taking its initial impetus from a single-issue campaign and rapidly expanding from there.’ (p.177) 7. ‘… there has been an extension of the ‘Party and Protest’ side of DIY Culture … with the Draconian laws now in place (Criminal Justice Act) The simple act of having a good time has been given a greater oppositional thrust.’ (p. 177) These passages from McKay’s book show how the extra-political movements of the 90s are perceived to be linked to the alternative ‘counter-cultural’ enterprises of the 60s – arts laboratories, fringe and community theatre groups, rock festivals, the underground press. Performance art was at the heart of this movement. That it is a movement, not just creative anarchy, cannot be definitively proven. But what unites the varied cultural forms referred to by McKay is a desire to transgress. The universality of Oedipally inspired anti-authoritarianism was crystallized into an identifiable unity in the 1990s by the Government’s imposition of the Criminal Justice Act, a reaction to the popular opposition to the Poll Tax. Protest against this historically discredited mechanism came to a well-publicised climax in the Trafalgar Square ‘riot’ in 1990. The current ‘Reclaim the Streets’ movement embodies many aspects of D.I.Y. Culture. It also carries strong references to pre-Christian culture and mediaeval popular culture. As recently as April 2000, an article in The Guardian7 drew attention to the roots of the May Day tradition of street protest and celebration: ‘Protesting against corporations which destroy the natural environment looks back to Beltane’s8 pagan roots.

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The word “pagan” etymologically means “of the countryside”. Most of all RTS (Reclaim the Streets) guerrilla gardening honours the spirit of May Day: fertile, anarchic and pleasure-seeking, coming up like shoots from the earth itself, irrepressible in its vulgar, laughing, streamer-fluttering, transformative character, but, true to the spirit of carnival, a gusto coupled with an implacably serious political intent.’ The converging cultural threads that may be identified in contemporary ‘street arts’ (including performance art and carnival) are disparate and discontinuous. The unifying strands are heterogeneity (or diversity), multiplicity (including multi-culturalism) and antiauthoritarianism (or dissent). Contemporary art movements do not generally operate within the same value systems as radical political movements. The economics of the art market works with rather than against global corporatism. However, performance art, which is still to most people outrageously avant-garde, and which may take place outside the gallery system, does share some of the aspirations of the organisers of the Reclaim The Streets events. Chief of these aspirations is free self-expression, which may also be straightforward anti-authoritarianism. Apart from the historical association with the early 20th century avant-garde (one of whose aims was to épater la bourgeoisie), disobedience – civil or uncivil – is often precipitated by repression. This surely, is the recent cultural history of social reaction to Thatcherism. It was the British Government who identified the common denominators of music with ‘a succession of repetitive beats’9 substance (drug) abuse, and a modern form of nomadism – the lifestyle of the ‘New Age Travellers’. The criminalisation of a way of life that contested authority in the name of freedom of self-expression did not lead to performance art. But some of the late 20th century forms of performance art sprang from a recognition that cultural politics occupy a contested field. Apart from isolated instances of minor police repression (and major ones in pre-1989 communist counties) the only recorded example of the hegemonic suppression of performance art has been in Singapore, where in 1996 the government issued a prohibition on performance art and Forum Theatre10. According to Ray Langenbach11 the official reason for this pronouncement was that both performance phenomena permitted members of an audience to form their own opinion.

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There is one tentative conclusion that may be drawn from the impact of the praxis of certain ‘D.I.Y.’ cultural forms on civic society. It is that hegemonic structures fear the loss of authorial control, and will use civil powers to reimpose it. This process appears to be at work in the aftermath of the protest actions known as the Carnivals against Capitalism, or J19, N30 (1999) and M1 (2000), in London, Seattle, and Washington. Although the actions of the network known as ‘Reclaim The Streets’ are organised collectively, with no communicated leadership, the authorities and the mainstream (tabloid) press assume that there are ringleaders. This presumption appears to be based on a wilful misunderstanding of human behaviour. Documentation and Research The purpose of documentation of live performance work is usually economic – performers are encouraged to have their work filmed (usually on video) in order to attract funding to facilitate the production of more work. Archives (for example the Live Art Archive, lodged at Nottingham Trent University) are often a means of showing promoters and funders the range of work from which they may select artists to support. The academic use of archive material for research is another possibility. Neither use of documentation is central to the creative process of making performances. As so much documentation becomes an art work in its own right, it is important to consider documentation of performance in that context, Art as luxury, art as wealth, art as positional goods, art as social criticism, art as political act, art as research? Artists, the creators of this variously categorized phenomenon known as ‘art’ have always fallen uncomfortably into the gaps in society’s categorizations; at once the providers of luxury goods and the uncomfortable reminders of human decay; both detached intellectual commentators and members of a marginalised underclass; excluded by socialist dogmatists from the economic planning of cultural industries, and enjoined by the curators of official art to represent everything from AIDS to the ‘Trophies of Empire’, and to be politically correct with it.

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No wonder Margaret Thatcher is said to have execrated Francis Bacon – he made a lot of money out of ‘nothing’, a few relatively inexpensive pigments, some canvas & brushes, a single room lit by a naked light bulb, recycled images from magazines, his own internal processes, and marginalized personal experiences. A perfect entrepreneur, but his products repelled her. Capitalism has always had a love/hate relationship with the most refined forms of profit-making, drugs, real estate, pornography, art. On January 21st 2000 Miller gave a paper at a public graduate research seminar at Brighton University. This is an extract: “I identify two main forms of research in the arts: 1. research into the processes and materials that contribute to artistic creativity; creativity itself – we may call this PROACTIVE RESEARCH12. This type of research is based on experience and is synthetic Proactive research can also include the observation of place, behaviour, and context, in the course of creating, from the phenomena observed, an artwork. 2. academic, critical, or historical research into the production of art, and the art produced – REACTIVE RESEARCH This type of research is based on enquiry, and is analytic. Frequently, a decision or series of decisions is made as a result of research: this may mark a shift into the actual process of creativity. I have not included the types of research that occur in industry (research and development) or in science (testing a theory) PROACTIVE RESEARCH is undertaken, usually by the artist, as part of the process of creating an artwork. This research may test different, alternative processes, or the limits of one particular process. It might look at different materials, or subject-matters. On example of this is the Stanislavkian ‘method’ of acting. Visual artists engage in research, in the form of drawing, in the course of producing an artwork.

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Most creative art processes involve a preliminary stage, during which material is accumulated. From this material, a selection is made that becomes the ‘final work’. In describing this preliminary stage, artists use terms such as ‘looking’, but it seems clear that there must also be some recording. In the case of physical work (dance), a ‘body memory’ may be engaged. The importance of a rehearsal stage in a creative process depends on the degree of memory required to satisfy the demands of a ‘production’. In the case of mechanically reproduced creative works the memory is sited in the technology involved – film, photography, sound recording. However, in some creative processes, research is simultaneous with making: the two activities are indistinguishable. An important realisation that has become clearer during periods of experimentation in the arts (the historical avant-garde period: the 1960s) is that there is a significant difference between an art process that has an end point, at which an art product becomes available ‘in the world’, detached from the creator, apt to be exploited; and an art process that is self-sufficient, and which does not give away to a detachable art product. The realisation of this dimorphism has had important economic, social, and cultural implications. REACTIVE RESEARCH is usually undertaken by somebody who intends to make ‘an original contribution to knowledge’ (academic research), or to discover previously unknown facts about the making of artworks, or a creator’s life (literary/critical research.) The researcher is not normally the artist/creator. Discussion at Brighton – The Research Seminar: In answer to a question, I described my recent project: the performances between April/May ’98 (Hull-Chişinãu) and September ’99 (Sheffield). My activity resulted in a series of temporary line drawings – in chalk – the tracings of human activity, on the surface where that activity takes place. The drawings are on a one-to-one scale, which leads to a consideration of other comparable drawings.

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The line drawings in Peru made by the Nasca people. Several TV documentaries about these drawings have explored different theories about the origin and purpose of the lines. There is no definitive proof that any current explanation of the origin of the lines is correct. What seems to be agreed is that the lines are approximately 2000 years old. Geological reasons for their preservation include the nature of the soil, extreme day to night temperature changes, lack of wind, and of agriculture. The lines seem to be connected to a need for an assured water supply in that climate, and to the desire to appease those who ‘take water away’ in a time of drought – ie the Gods. Leaving aside the theories that connect the lines with space craft (Erich von Daniken) or astronomy (Maria Reiche), or that they were originally made by hot-air balloonists, the most recently aired theory (from Giuseppe Orefici, Italian archaeologist) focuses on ritual. “The drawings, despite being properly visible only from the air; would have been easy to make using standard weaver’s techniques for scaling-up drawings on to a loom (and the Nasca … were master weavers). The conclusion was that they were probably pathways used in religious ceremonies.”13 “Heaven’s Mirror” by Graham Hancock, with photographs by Santha Faiia14 supports Maria Reiche’s theory, nevertheless leaves open many of the questions about the origins of the geoglyphs. The creatures represented in the sand drawings may relate to constellations, but how do the long straight ‘roadways’ fit in? The roads may be runways for spacecraft, but how are they related to the star maps? The question of visibility only from above may be countered by Orefici’s rituals. The attractive view that the religion of the Nasca people was served by regular professions along carefully constructed pathways that correspond both to astronomical figures and subterranean watercourses is somewhat altered by another of Orefici’s discoveries: skeletons of young, apparently sacrificial victims, with the remains of excrement in their mouths. It appears that the ‘pyramid city’ of Cahuachi, close to the pampas where the Nasca drawings lie, was devoted to religious activities, perhaps inhabited by a community of priests.

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Exploring the origins of mysterious lines in other places, in a book on ancient sites15, Charles Walker poses a rhetorical question: “If such a line (in Ostfriesland) may be drawn between points having no ‘sacred’ connections, then what purpose is served by drawing lines between points which have? Undoubtedly, there are such things as earth currents, and undoubtedly the old pilgrimage routes appear to have followed them … yet all evidence suggests that earth currents do not move in a straight line. Chinese Fen Shui experts, who have specialized in earth currents and related phenomena, call the currents ‘dragon lines’; a term which evokes the sinuous curvilinear nature of such natural forces in a more convincing way than any of the rectilinear heilige Linien of (Wilhelm) Teudt and his school.” Teudt was a German astrologer whose work helped to establish the Teutonic religious centre at Externsteine, a site ‘intimately linked with the myths and history of German nationalism’ (Walker, 1980). In England Alfred Watkins (1885-1935)16 and John Michell17 have been important authorities on ley lines and other related phenomena. Michell, in his preface to ‘The View Over Atlantis’ refers to: ‘The gradual accumulation within each succeeding generation of the total knowledge of the past through the hereditary medium, known to biologists as DNA …’ The apparent links between mythology, mysticism, and that which is buried deep in the earth or visible only to those who have access to ‘astroarchaeology’ (Michell) are a seductive set of connections. The further linkage into the world of genetic determinism provides cause for real unease. Here are theories of ancient peoples who have some ‘rights’ over territory, and master races who possessed significant powers now lost. A romanticism that can lend itself to totalitarianism? Conclusion – drawing a line and leaving a mark Several line-drawing performance pieces have been carried out by Miller. An early one was in Mumbles, South Wales, 1970, when Cameron and Miller trod the line between Mumbles Lighthouse and Oystermouth Castle, wearing pink clothes and planting pink flag markers along the way.

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This line could only be completed when the tide was out, as it involved cutting across the bay. The event was advertised in the local tourist guide. ‘Drawing lines’ can produce confrontational situations (a straight line walked between two points, irrespective of what lies in between, for example). In an exercise with Fine Art students at Leeds Polytechnic (1970) it was proposed that they should make straight lines from the interior of the Fine Arts Studio to the outside, marked with materials such as earth, sand, sawdust, gravel, treacle. The observational skills needed to make a visually satisfactory straight line without breaching the wall that interrupted the line were matched by the chutzpah required to ‘draw’ in public with such unsuitable materials. Preparatory negotiations with the students included reference to the working methods of the painter Jackson Pollock. Other work with lines ‘drawn’ on the land- or town-scape has taken place in Cardiff (’72), Poland (’78), Totnes (’83), Vauxhall (’93), Southwark (’99), and in Germany, (’82), where the line was intended to cross the river Elbe. It linked a mediaeval tower in West Germany with a military watchtower in East Germany, marking the line with white flags. The provocation that this entailed induced some West German local inhabitants to express concern at such a flamboyant pubic acknowledgement (possibly celebration!) of a boundary they clearly resented. A performance in Poland, in 1978, involved the artist, dressed inappropriately in pink, striking directly across a meadow, planting markers along the way, to a steel fence. Miller climbed the fence, stripped off the pink suit, and proceeded naked into the forest beyond. This performance was watched by a group of Polish artists gathered for a Plener18 -- a summer school, at Warcyno, in Pomerania. The location was the grounds of a villa formerly occupied by the family of Count von Bismarck, which dated from the period in which this part of Poland was Prussian. In the forest were the ruins of the Bismarck family tomb. It was a potent site. The practice of drawing an arbitrarily straight line is both potentially domineering – of the use of the grid in avant-garde art – but also interestingly low-key. The permanence or otherwise of the line is an important factor.

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Inevitably, in built up areas, straight line drawing by walking could only be achieved with some re-arrangement of solid features, such as buildings, and the sheer impossibility of the exercise has contributed to the elements of surreal comedy. There can also be a human dimension. In 1993 Miller was invited to create a performance for an event, ‘Woodwork’, organised by the Beaconsfield art venue at Spring Gardens, South London. The Gardens are an expanse of grass and trees on the site of the 18th century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Miller’s praxis involved taking pieces of detritus, one at a time, from points on one side of the Gardens to opposite points on the other side. The detritus would be left as a marker and the process repeated throughout the day. Miller chose the points at which the lines started and finished arbitrarily, making decisions on the spot, phenomenologically. Members of the public were individually invited to walk with him. One young woman who accepted the invitation was asked to ‘Walk to Australia’: the destination of the line at that point was a Wine Warehouse advertising Australian wines. Miller’s companion on the ‘Australian walk’ explained that she was in Vauxhall ‘in hiding’ visiting her children. She had been sent by the police to stay in Portsmouth for her own safety, because she was an important prosecution witness in a murder case. She had made the trip to Vauxhall ‘in secret’. She seemed to enjoy the ‘walk to Australia’. Several conclusions could be extrapolated from this anecdotal account; about the psychic geography of South London, about the influence of Dickensian fiction on the English psyche. A psycho-social analysis could be developed, based on the artist’s decisions, which resulted in the combination of such heterogeneous factors. However, the actual performance work remains both simple and impenetrable. It was composed by the following of a number of imaginary meridional lines, walked across the site of the former Vauxhall Pleasure gardens, by a stranger and a series of chance accomplices. The walkers talked. The ‘story’ recounted in this ‘analysis’ was a fortuitous discovery, extraneous to the performance, and yet the centre-point of it. The young woman’s story becomes the text that the performance art piece reveals. The fragments of detritus were pretexts.

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Other drawn shapes used in performance include the spiral19 which can be accomplished over relatively long distances – 175 miles in Glasgow, doubled by counting the miles in to the centre and the miles out again. This configuration has a satisfying link with superstitious custom. A lefthand circling (counter-clockwise or widdershins) brings bad luck, but a right-hand circling (clockwise) good. The ‘straightforward’ walking or running in a circle, or the use of a chalked or rope circle to clear a space within which to perform has atavistic resonance. Cameron and Miller’s performance works over the last 30 years referred to above – in South Wales, Leeds, Totnes, Vauxhall, Southwark, Cardiff, Poland, Germany, Glasgow and Coleraine – were not systematically documented. In general, drawings, hand written notes, maps, and some still photographs serve to contextualize and explain the praxis. The available archival material is extensive, but it does not have a direct economic role in the creation of further performance works. Two video recordings were made of the first performance work in the series presently under consideration – ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’. The video made by Karen Dickinson uses editing techniques – dissolves, fades, etc. Cathy Wilson’s video uses more of a ‘hand-held’ documentary technique. The Wilson video was shown in several locations where subsequent performances were given – Chişinãu, Sf. Gheorghe, Nové Zamký. The use of this video was to explain the Hull urban context and to show how a live performance can work in an inner (English) city. Other artists who make temporary works – for example Christo – are sometimes able to market their incidental artworks. These consist of, in Christo’s case, working drawings, and ‘artists’ impressions’ of the finished (wrapped) work. Because of the short intended lifetime of Christo’s works – days or at most a few weeks – the value of the ‘permanent’ documentary artworks, which are often prints created from drawings, is enhanced. In fact it is through the sale of these ‘secondary’ artworks that Christo finances the creation of the works that are central to their20 career.

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Drawing a line around something, for example, a large building or block of buildings, (Nové Zamký, Budapest, Glasgow ’98, Sheffield ’99) as a performance carries other implications. Use of the term ‘postupok’ from Bakhtin) was in part an attempt to make a post-performance literary/historical reference. The display of Miller’s ‘swollen belly’ in the 1998/99 performances was a conscious gestural reference to one of the elements of the carnivalesque, it may also be linked to the drawn (swollen) outline (‘pregnant line’). Unlike the Nasca lines, Miller’s lines are drawn by a free-lance individual, with some ‘metaphysical’21 effect, outside any regulated system that an organised religion might impose. The artist’s praxis, as drawer of the line, does not rely on a spiritual source. It consists of drawing temporary lines in public places, whether by hand and some medium such as chalk, or by walking and leaving a series of appearances, ‘snapshots’ that may be traced as a line on a map or in the spectators’ minds. Miller’s praxis also has the effect of uncovering things hidden beneath the surface, in a manner analogous to archaeology, or surgery. This may induce pain, when for example the site on which the ‘drawing’ performance takes place has some personal associations for a spectator. Jane Whittaker, postgraduate student, University of Brighton, was particularly affected by the description of ‘Incorporating’ because she had been brought up in Sheffield, and her uncle had worked in premises close to Garden Street. She had been familiar, as a child, with the environment in which the ‘Little Mesters’ worked. Surgery was her analogy, used to describe the process of public drawing in the street used in ‘Incorporating’. She spoke of the artist wielding ‘a scalpel’. The task of analysing a visual artwork is not simple. That it can be done is incontrovertible. Like other forms of art, in which there is an attempt to depict, or to narrate, some visual art may be explained in terms of how it represents an aspect of life, society, or the human condition. But there are visual artworks that are non-representational, that, in a modernist sense, are abstract.

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Steve McQueen, winner of the Turner Prize (2000) has stated recently: ‘My work is not a crossword puzzle. I get so pissed off when people ask me to explain it. I make these works to discover something, not to explain anything.’22 McQueen is not the only visual artist (his medium is the film installation) to believe that art is made to discover, rather than to explain. Such artists may reveal or uncover aspects of everyday life, but any analysis of this process is most likely to be contingent.

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NOTES Street Biz an agency set up by Zap Productions of Brighton to organize ‘street art’ events in Glasgow at Strathclyde for Glasgow’s year as Cultural Capital of Europe (1989) 2 Longmans Dictionary; 1984, Harlow, Longman Group 3 Larousse; 1989, Paris, Librairie Larousse 4 Shorter O.E.D.; 1972 Oxford O.U.P. 5 Aufheben, No 4, Summer 1995, p. i 6 The Book: Directory of Active Groups in the UK, 1995, Brighton p.2 7 Jay Griffiths, ‘The Guardian’, 26th April 2000 Secion 2 p. 4 8 Beltane – the celtic quarter day festival (May 1st) that is the origin of May Day celebrations in Europe. 9 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 10 Forum Theatre – the type of politically engaged theatrical mode pioneered by Augusto Boal 11 Ray Langenbach, unpublished paper, 1996 12 PROACTIVE (adj. Psychology): involving modification by a factor which precedes that which is modified REACTIVE: (adj.): Occuring as a result of or reaction to something 13 Information supplied with the ‘Horizon’ BBC broadcast, January 2000 14 Graham Hancock & Santha Faiia; 1998 ‘Heaven’s Mirror’: London, Michael Joseph, Channel 4 15 Charles Walker; 1990 ‘Sites of Mystery and Imagination’; London, Chancellor Press 16 Alfred Watkins, The Old Straight Track, London 1925 17 amongst the titles of John Michell’s books are: ‘The View over Atlantis’, Abacus, London 1973; & ‘The hip pocket Hitler’, Hassle Free Press, London – no author is named, by the book’s distributor (in Bath 1974 where Michell lived at the time) confirmed that book’s provenance. The opening entry in ‘Hitler’, ‘Atlantis’contains the sentence: ‘Nothing prevents us from supposing – and I even believe it would be in our interest to do so – that mythology is a reflection of things that have existed and of which humanity has retained a vague memory.’ 18 The Polish ‘plener’ derives from the French and is used to mean both the landscape (painting) and the act of painting in the open air 19 ‘By the Pure Dead Brilliant Way’ and ‘In The Frame’, Glasgow, European Capital of Culture Festivel 1989; ‘The Banner People’, Coleraine, Ireland, 1991 20 ‘Christo’ is the name under which the artist and his partner and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, wish to be known. 21 ‘metaphysical’ was a term used by a student commenting on a lecture given at the University of Brighton, Dept of Visual and Performing Arts, 25th October 1999 22 McQueen was quoted in a review of his most recent work by Adrian Searle, in The Guardian, Saturday Review 6th May 2000
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II

Documentation – Synthesis

Chapter 5:Development of a set of performances, April ’98 to September ’99, including ‘Incorporating’

The sequence of performances that culminated in ‘Incorporating’, in September 1999, properly began in Hull, where, on the 3rd of April, 1998, I created a performance art piece in and around the Red Gallery, Osbourne Street. The occasion was a one week programme of events called ‘The Medium is not the Message’ organised by the artist Julie Bacon. The Red Gallery is a small space for showing art, set up by staff and students in the Fine Art Department at Humberside University. Osbourne Street is a thoroughfare comprised by the dominating bulk of a multi-storey carpark which was built to service the shopping centre constructed in what used to be Princes Dock. The shopping centre squats uncomfortably in water that once accommodated boats of the Hull trawler fleet. Osbourne Street used to be in the Jewish quarter of the city. A synagogue was located there. Now the ‘re-developed’ docks are devoted to retailing, and leisure pursuits such as sex, alcohol and music. The nearest pub in Osbourne Street to the Red Gallery was called, in 1998, The Covered Wagon’. Its interior was embellished with cowboy artefacts, including Western saloon swinging doors, a wagon canopy over the bar, and a show balcony, with no means of access. On Sunday evenings The Covered Wagon hosted ‘quick draw nights’ in costume. My 1998 performance was called ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’ and in it I hung three string vests, red, black, and green, in the gallery in front of a drawn outline figure, roughly life-size, on the gallery wall. This figure was labelled ‘the actor’. The performance was in four 20 minute sections, at 1 pm, 3 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm. I was dressed in white. The performance involved four elements: (1) filling the vests with items of rubbish collected from the nearby streets (the bottoms of the vests had been sewn up) – the vests were hung in the gallery, in front of ‘the actor’; (2) drawing short coloured chalk lines son the floor in front of the feet of gallery spectators, whilst engaging them in conversation about the difference between acting, performing, and spectating;

(3) reading a written text1; (4) leading the spectators (20-30 in number) from the gallery to the ‘Covered Wagon’ pub, a few yards down Osbourne Street – this happened after the final section only, at the effective end of the performance sequence. At the end of the 1 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm sections I pulled one of the stuffed vests over my head, like an extra belly, and walked with it to the pub. In the bar, on my first visit, a young woman from the little group that seemed to be permanently based in the ‘back bar’ agreed to hang the vest from the show balcony. This had the effect of transferring ojects from the gallery (‘art objects’) to the social space of the pub, where they became decorations in a Wild West fantasy. Finally the entire performance (performer and spectators) was located in the pub. It was this re-location, which was an improvised element, that gave me the idea of playing with the notion of two spaces, an idea partly developed from a reading of Mikhail Bakhtin’s text ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ (see chapter 3, Mikhail Bakhtin). Bakhtin makes a distinction between what he calls in Russian ‘postupok’, which happens in ‘real life’ and that which happens in a cultural, literary, reported, context. It was an attempt to explore the juxtaposition of the two spaces in contemporary situations that I carried out the performances, which I called ‘postupok’ in Moldova, Transylvania, Slovakia, Hungary and Scotland (1998). Incorporating’ represents a further development, a reduction of the performance with chalk to an action based on my perception of a boundary that seems to exist between private and public, official and unofficial, cultured and vulgar, functional and dysfunctional. In performance I consciously try to walk that line, drawn between these diodes. Use of chalk Of the possible drawing tools, chalk has the attractions of immediacy and evanescence. Unlike a paintbrush, or a pen, it requires no source of pigment; unlike a pencil, it doesn’t require sharpening. Like charcoal, it is self-consuming, when it runs out the line ends. The colour range of chalk is wide, and as white or ‘blackboard’ chalk, it makes a strong visible mark on most surfaces.

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Chalk has been used by travellers to put marks on doorposts to communicate the nature of the people living within. I have seen interpretations of this sign-system, but I have never been confident that they were reliable. When we lived in Grantham in the 1970s, our doorpost was sometimes marked with chalk signs. Apparently the signs could mean that one was a generous provider of food or money to an itinerant, or not. Whether one would demand work in exchange for charity, or not, and so on. Chalk is a naturally occurring substance, which has a texture and a ‘feel’ like charcoal, but unlike other mark-making implements. The pressure of chalk on a hard surface (eg a blackboard) can produce a distinct, sometimes piercing, noise. Unlike the aerosol spray container of car paint that is frequently used by graffiti artists, chalk is not permanent, or damaging. In spite of this, the use of chalk can be represented as a criminal activity, as I discovered in Sheffield when carrying out the performance ’Incorporating’2. Above all, chalk is tactile, gritty. The availability and quality of chalk varies in different locations, depending on the relative wealth or poverty of the society and the degree to which a system is intent on new means of information technology. The University where I teach no longer makes chalk available to lecturers, although blackboards still feature in some of the teaching studios. It has been assumed that lecturers will prefer to use an overhead projector, with the appropriate marker pen, or a computer/projection system. ‘Old-fashioned’ white blackboard chalk can be obtained, but I found it had to be ordered specially at a Sheffield art materials shop. In central European countries such as Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, it was hard to find high quality chalk. The colours were wan and limited, the chalk was brittle, and only available in kiosks, where children’s toys and pop, pornographic and football magazines, and cigarettes were sold. The coloured children’s chalk available in Germany and Britain is, by contrast, often sold as an educational toy, and comes in sophisticated packaging. When in Chişinãu, I made the decision to switch the emphasis of my performances from the ‘Performer/Actor’ subject matter of Hull (April, May 1998) to the text I called ‘What we bring and what we find’ (May, October ’98). I determined in future to use only that chalk which I could acquire in the place where the performance was being given.

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I had brought German chalks with me from England, and I continued to use them until they ran out. These superior ‘Pelikan’ brand chalks are the type widely available in art material shops, they are square, each individual stick wrapped in paper with the green Pelikan logo – a representation of the bird. In Chişinãu I was able to emphasise the meticulous unpeeling of the wrapper on each stick before drawing. Pelikan chalks come in flat boxes. 12 Sticks to a box, which has a conveniently openable lid that can be lifted back on a paper ‘hinge’. Thus it is possible to lay the box of chalks on a surface where the performance is taking place, exposing the row of 12 differently coloured sticks to view. In a ’Pelikan’ box you get the basic ‘rainbow colours’ (yellow, orange, red, indigo, blue, green) plus three shades of brown, and extra shades of green, red, and orange. This range of colours is not bettered in any other make of drawing chalks that I have come across.

CHALK USED Place
Hull

Brand
‘Chunkies’

Maker
Early Learning Center Swindon, GB

Characteristics
Short, fat, round; 8 colours

Chişinãu

Pelikan 745

Pelikan AG Hanover, Germany

Square, wrapped 12 colours Square, wrapped, Limited colours

Sf. Gheorghe

‘mit dem Stern’

Eberhard Faber

Nowé Zamké

Kreda tablicowa kolorowa

Stanislaw Rutkowski Zakopane, Poland Agrár Impari Szövetkezt Stephens London, GB

Square, Limited colours Square, limited colours White, long, round & tapered

Budapest

‘Studium szines táblakrétà

Sheffield

‘Superline Chalks’

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In Nové Zamký I became aware of the importance of understanding the impact of using expensive-seeming materials in a poverty-stricken community. The eagerness with which the young Slovak children took the chalks I offered them spoke perhaps both of their desire for free expression and their lack of resources. The stack of white chalk in the safe in the base room in the Garden Rooms is described by Alex Kelly in Live Art Magazine3 ‘The chalk is surprisingly beautiful for such a mundane substance: the sticks are tapered, and they stack exquisitely in the dovetail pile.’ Bakhtin and the grotesque body The string vests I used in the performances in Hull and Chişinãu, filled with rubbish gathered from the locations, relate to the notion of fatness that Mikhail Bakhtin expresses in his work on the carnivalesque. “The body that figures in all the expressions of the unofficial speech of the people is the body that fecundates and is fecundated, that gives birth and is born, devours and is devoured …”4 This quotation is taken from the chapter (5) of Bakhtin’s Rabelais and his World which deals with the grotestque image of the body. By exaggerating my own belly with a series of appendages (vests) that could be filled with garbage, I acknowledged the carnivalesque fatman. By visiting the pub in Hull and the street market in Chişinãu, I was making a gestural reference to these sites of popular consumption. The text I read in the Red Gallery, Hull (pp 76-77) contains a reference to Peggy Phelan’s phrase ‘two people inside the skin of one person’5. Although there was no specifically sexual imagery used in the performances referred to here, Bakhtin makes it clear that the carnivalesque imagery refers to generalised ‘lower bodily functions’. ‘Thus the artistic logic of the grotesque image ignores the closed, smooth, and impenetrable surface of the body and retains only its excrescences (sprouts, buds) and orifices, only that which leads beyond the body’s limited space or into the body’s depths.’6 By using string vests, I was able to reveal to spectators what the paunches contained, like having a glass wall to the stomach.

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In Chişinãu I collected rubbish, including empty bottles, from tables in the bar area of the theatre, in view of the audience, before beginning my performance. When I came to make the ‘Postupok’ performance in Budapest, the items of detritus7 were no longer carried in my vests (which had been stolen from the street in Chişinãu). The most numerous discarded objects in the areas around the cinema in Nové Zamký and the palace of culture in Budapest were cigarette ends. In Budapest I also cam across a half-empty third of a litre bottle of vodka. Many of these discarded ‘lifestyle’ objects were ringed in chalk as I progressed with my circumambulant line drawing. In ‘Incorporating’ in Sheffield the objects I circled were, in the main, either fragments of manufactured metal or pieces of wood. These two classes of detritus offered evidence of the metal and word working processes still being carried out in the premises in Garden Street and Hollis Croft. The by-products of a diminishing (in the 21st century economy) local industry. Decisions made during performance, such as what pieces of detritus to circle in chalk, have usually depended on what is found at the performance site at the time of the performance. The decisions are improvisatory. Although it is possible to trace references after the event, eg: the detritus found in Sheffield and in Budapest related to the disintegration of the British manufacturing economy or of Central European society (vodka), it is important to recognise that these references were not a conscious part of the artist’s motivation. The process of choice and the setting of ‘rules’ in improvised performance are largely phenomenological. Evidence of declining industrial activity in Sheffield is visible in the flourishing buddleia bushes growing on the site and the other outgrowths of vegetation wherever buildings were unused or unattended8. The short side of the roughly triangular block that was chalked around, Solly Street, fronts office buildings, and the detritus here was confectionery and other wrappers. The street here is perceptibly tidier than Garden Street, in spite of enforced outdoor smoking. One office doorway has a discreet metal box next to it which is intended to receive cigarette ends.

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The desire of authorities to preserve the tidiness of city streets has led to some weighty reactions, presumably in the name of economic prosperity. In Singapore the government has imposed a ban on chewing gum, because discarded gum on city pavements was not congruent with the economic miracle the country like to be known for9. My thinking, in first gathering the garbage to fill the vests (Hull, Chişinãu) and then drawing round the items of detritus (other performance sites), was that I was harvesting and marking the products of the disintegration of communities. I adopted, and adapted Bakhtin’s view of the grotesque body in carnivalesque imagery. The carnival figure is fat because it has fed to excess, but it has also engenendered new life. The annual renewal of the carnival by means of voracity expresses this process. The presence of used condoms in the street in both the Hull and Sheffield sites offered evidence of the activities practised there. My observations of the contexts in which I was making performances in various European cities in 1998 led me to attempt to develop a more theoretical apprehension of what it is that the artist does. This was the central consideration around which I built a lecture, which I delivered on 13th January 1999 for the European Cultural Planning MA Programme at De Montfort University. An edited version of the text follows in chapter 6. I chose the term ‘transmitter’ to describe the artist’s function because I felt that this was what I had been doing. In broadcasting, transmitting is somewhat indiscriminate; anyone can receive what is being conveyed. Transmission is also ‘handing down’ (as if) by heredity; passing on (an infection); the passage of a nerve impulse across a synapse. I like this complex web of possible meanings, drawing on physics, neurology, and pathology. Characterising the artist as a ‘Transmitter’ embraces this heterogeneity of the (performance artist’s) praxis.

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NOTES the text is reprinted in the next chapter, 6 see commentary on the photographs, volume 2 3 Live Art Magazine No 28, Dec. ’99 – Feb. ’00 p. 23 4 Mikhail Bakhtin: 1984 ‘Rabelais and his World’; tr. Hélène Iswolsky; Bloomington Indiana University Press p. 319 5 Peggy Phelan: 1997 ‘Mourning Sex: performing pubic memories’ London, Routledge 6 Mikhail Bakhtin: 1984 pp 317/318 7 detritus is defined (Longman dictionary 1984) as ‘a product of disintegration or wearing away’ 8 see chapter 7, VI ‘Incorporating’ photographs, esp. ‘vegetation’ & ‘ginnels’. 9 Wen Lee, a Singaporean performance artist, in a performance in which he satirized various hegemonic restrictions on life in his country, filled his mouth with chewing gum and used it to draw a five-pointed star on the studio wall – Huddersfield, October 1996.
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Chapter 6
THREE TEXTS

(i)

‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor – physiology’

pp 93-96

delivered as part of the performance at The Red Gallery, Hull 3rd April 1998 (ii) ‘The Artist as Transmitter in the Contemporary City’ pp 97-119

lecture given at De Monfort University, Leicester, European Cultural Planning MA Programme, 213 January 1999. (iii) ‘Incorporating’ booklet available to spectators at the performance at the Garden Rooms, Sheffield, 14th-17th September 1999

Both the lecture delivered in Leicester, January 1999, and the text read as part of the performance in Hull, April 1998 are significant stages in the thinking that led to ‘Incorporating’, September 1999. Elements identified from both documents were present in the eventual performance piece in Sheffield. In the booklet made available to spectators at the performance, some of the themes from the other two documents are referred to, and there is a section (No. 7) covering ‘Other Significant Artworks’, which introduces works by Cameron, Miller, and artists that seem to have had some influence on the creation of ‘Incorporating’.

This is a transcript of the text1 which was read as part of the performance, and subsequently relayed through a ‘live’ video made by Cathy Wilson to audiences in Chişinãu, Derby, Huddersfield, Nové Zamký, Sheffield and Sf. Gheorghe. In delivery, the text was embroidered by voice changes, pauses, and contributions from spectators. “THE PERFORMER’S FEAR OF THE ACTOR – physiology In her book ‘Mourning sex, performing public memories, Peggy Phelan comments: ‘… modern Western acting is about the creation of a double body. The actor is trained to reproduce the gestures, bearing, and “being” of some other body, the “character”.’ The chapter (4) from which this quote is taken is called: ‘Uncovered rectums. Disinterring the Rose Theatre’. Elsewhere, Peggy Phelan offers the image of two people inside the skin of one person (which illustrates both the acting and the act of penetrative sex). In my self-perception, this is a significant double reference. Peggy Phelan, in her chapter on the Rose Theatre, notes the traditional homophobia of people who fear wandering (male) actors and the sexually transmitted diseases and immorality that they may spread. She also refers to the campaigning activities on behalf of gay actors and the Rose Theatre, in 1988, 89, of Sir Ian McKellen. I once entertained (Sir) Ian to tea in my rooms in Oxford. My roommate was a school friend of the actor, (who was) on a visit from his own University, Cambridge. Yes, I have frequented the company of actors: No, I was then, and am now, heterosexual. Oliver Sacks, in his book ‘Migraine’, 1970, points to the neurological mechanisms that may be responsible for this condition. I have suffered from migraine for 50 years. Attacks are much less frequent now, but I am still occasionally subject to the visual disturbances, described as ‘migrainous fortifications’ that shimmer and whir with bright colours, and move gradually across my field of vision, accompanied by a splitting headache.

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Oliver Sacks refers to the researches of Edward Living (1873) who recognised ‘that a migraine can act as a consummatory discharge, following and terminating the build-up of a tension: thus he compares it with a sneeze, a voracious meal or an orgasm.’ In other books, Oliver Sacks deals with autism, of which Asperger’s syndrome is known as a mild form. Characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome sufferers – who are most likely to be male – include obsessive behaviour, pedantic insistence on rules, violent bouts of temper, ‘anti-social’ behaviour, and an inability to empathise with others. The condition may occur in people whose level of intellectual achievement is relatively high – hence the notion of the ‘high achieving autistic’. This may offer a clue to that puzzling phenomenon – the ‘autistic savant’, formerly known as ‘idiot savant’. There have been several representations of the autistic savant in popular culture, of whom Dustin Hofman’s character in the film Rainman is one, and Albert Einstein another. My own personality deficits lead me to suppose that I may suffer from a mild but significant form of Asperger’s syndrome. In the four accompanying illustrations, taken from Oliver Sachs’ book on Migraine2, there are images with which I am painfully familiar. Oliver Sack’s caption to plate 4A suggests that the ‘dark shadow’ figure ‘may be a phantom image.’ To me that dark shadow is the actor. I have found no illustration of the experience of Asperger’s syndrome”. Roland Miller, Sheffield 01/04/98

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Illustration:

This drawing is based on the scintillating migraine scotoma which has visited me regularly, in a range of pattern and colour variations, for about 50 years. As Oliver Sacks confirms (op cit., see below) the scotoma takes roughly 20 minutes to cross the field of vision, always from right to left, steadily, inexorably, and painfully. At the Red Gallery performance I showed spectators a colour reproduction of the illustration in Sack’s book. One theory of the origin of these visual disturbances is that they in some way replicate cerebral phenomena. According to a television film ‘Ape-Man3, similar patterns are discernible both in 25,000 year-old cave paintings in France, and in artworks produced by 20th century Kalahari shamanic bushmen. Although I could not immediately discern the postulated link between cave paintings and my migrainous scotomas, some interconnections did occur to me. One of the principal contributors to the film was the psychotherapist Etzel Cardeña4, who is an authority on the fundamental importance of ritual and performance in psychic well-being. I have long believed that ‘prehistoric’ cave-paintings are a very early example of performance artform in which the act of drawing or painting accompanied a ritual shamanic dance or performance. To a limited extent the TV film seemed to confirm these interconnections.

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NOTES From ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’, performance in the Red Gallery, Osbourne Street, Hull, and in the street, 3rd April 1998. (in ‘The Medium is not the Message’ festival) 2 Four colour plates from “Migraine” by Oliver Sacks, Picador 1995, 1st pub. University of California Press, Berkely & Los Angeles 1970; revised edition 1985. Photographs courtesy British Migraine Association & Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd. 3 Ape-Man: Adventures in Human Evolution; BBC2 part 1, 22nd February 2000 4 Etzel Cardeña spoke at the University of Huddersfield, Theatre Studies’ Division, October 1996
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(ii)

The Artist as Transmitter in the Contemporary City (lecture delivered at De Montfort University, 13th January 1999)

Introduction I have a life-long fascination with the individual creative process. The questions I constantly ask are: why do individuals take on the role of ‘artist’? What does it mean? What is the artist’s relationship to the rest of the community? To society? I believe that the work of an artist, essentially the creation of intellectual property, is what I, and others are best equipped to do. I do not accept the notion that an artist, like a shaman, is a specially ‘chosen’ person, appointed by a divine agency. It seems that being an artist, like other human conditions, is the result of genetic arrangements. (There may not be any functional difference between these two routes to ‘selection’). The question of how an individual, and the individual’s community, deals with being an artist, is at the core of my research. The strategies that both artist and society have adopted at different times form the matter of what may be called ‘cultural politics’, although that phrase covers a wider field. The effect that the work of artists’ (both individually and collectively) has on other people, on society as a whole, is another broad field that I shall only touch on. I use the concept of ‘transmission’ to explore the artist’s role in contemporary society, particularly in urban communities. In my own life I have not pursued this life-long interest in a wholly conventional way. After 30 years working solely as a performance artist – a specialism I helped to develop in Britain – I have begun to research the basic questions, in terms of both personal predicament and societal circumstance. In the 1990s many of the support systems that had been important in the early days of performance art and other non-object based artforms (conceptual, community art), have disappeared or are no longer viable. At the same time, it appears that the potential of art processes in the fields of therapy, socio/medical health care, and ecology is being recognised.

This potential is acknowledged in countries of the former Soviet block, where between 1945 and 1989 the role of the arts in building an utopian society had established a strong but ideologically driven arts support infrastructure, and a correspondingly strong ‘underground’ alternative. At the core of my research, and this paper, is an uncomfortable problem, not confined to the arts. It is the dilemma of individual desires, exercised in a societal context. Who decides what can or cannot be done? Are there rules? And if so, who enforces them? What are the financial incentives & penalties? Is there a criminal dimension? This discourse is informed by educational pressures, market forces, and fashion. 1. THE RUSKINIAN VIEW: THE ARTIST AS INSTRUMENTALIST, AS LEGISLATOR, OR AS A-FUNCTIONAL INDIVIDUAL. In Britain the Arts and Artists have slipped off the political agenda. It is not simply the taxonomy. The term ‘the arts’ has been subsumed, in local and national government into one or more of the terms ‘culture’, ‘media’, ‘leisure’. What was once referred to as the field of arts activities became, in the 70s & 80s ‘cultural industries’ and in the 90s ‘creative industries’. Local finance has played an important role in funding arts activities, albeit for the public benefit, rather than for the sake of the arts themselves. Writing on the attempt by John Ruskin to establish his St George’s Museum in Sheffield, Janet Barnes, presently Keeper of the Mappin Art Gallery in the city, says: ‘The City Fathers in Sheffield recognised the importance of the St. George’s Museum, as an improvement in the quality of life in the city, and supported Ruskin’s scheme even before the museum had opened.’1 Rushkin himself did not respond positively. In a letter to City Councillor Bragge, who had offered a room in the ‘soon-to-be-opened Weston Park Museum’, he wrote in 1875 declining the offer: ‘… your Sheffield ironwork department will necessarily contain the most barbarous abortions that human rudeness have ever produced with human fingers’2 Today in Sheffield there is no longer a City Council Director of Arts and Museums, as there was in the 70s and 80s.

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Julian Spalding was Director of Arts when, as Master of the Guild of St. George (a position held originally by Ruskin himself) in 1985 he wrote in the foreword to ‘Ruskin in Sheffield’1 ‘… a manifestation of what are commonly referred to as ‘Victorian values’. The Ruskin collection was an important ingredient in the Victorian foundations of the great radical tradition that distinguishes the city to this day.’ In 1999 Sheffield’s arts Department is small, underfunded, part of ‘leisure provision’, and the museums, galleries, and theatres in the city are run by Trusts – private/pubic partnerships. There is no representation of working artists on these bodies. Much of the public, non-building-based arts activity in Sheffield is now organised by ‘Destination Sheffield’ a City Council funded public relations company. Ruskin had chosen Sheffield to establish his Guild of St. George as a national institution whose aim was to ‘permanently better the material condition of the poor’3. He wanted to counteract the effects of capitalism, and the problems of the industrial city. Ruskin hated mass-production, and he liked Sheffield in part because of the skills of the individual craftsmen who worked there in the cutlery industry. The role of the artist has changed since the 19th century (Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821) – ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ After Samuel Johnson, Rasselas 1759 ch 10 – ‘{the poet} must write as the interpreter of nature, and the legislator of mankind, … as a being superior to time and place.’ The French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) perhaps gave a more pragmatic view of the poet: 'Ses ailes de géant l’empêchent de marcher4 In the 20th century, in the early days of communism in Russia and the Soviet Union, the authorities held an idealistic view of the artist’s role in society that was close to Ruskin and Shelley. Individuals, of whom Mayakovsky if the best know example, who could not accept the contradictions of the individual artist’s role in a Marxist society, were tested to destruction.

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One of the contradictions of the time seems to us, in the present day, that artists of all kinds were respected and their work held in high esteem. The price paid for this respect and esteem was a loss of individual freedom of expression (and creation). The influence of Bertolt Brecht on theatre practitioners in the 60s is due in part to the perception that he was an individual who, coped very well with the difficult task of being a successful Marxist artist. Is there a situation today, with free-market capitalism or corporatism taking the place of Marxism, in which artists must again review their role in society? Andrew Marr, writing in The Observer, 3rd January 19995 notes the early 20th C’s (British) ‘liberal progressive tradition, … {and} … rational optimism … liberalism’s moral engine {which} was destroyed by political crisis and world war. Much of the art of the (20th) century has been devoted to mocking the death of those simple-minded and kindly ideas. The modernist movements were partly about describing life in a grimmer, discordant, fragmented world whose sunny, liberal certainties had died in agony.’ Marr could be referring here to Picasso’s Guernica (1937). The references to grimness, discord, fragmentation could also apply to another Picasso painting – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 John Berger6, draws attention to the emblematic force of the painting Guernica: ‘Undoubtedly the significance of the painting has been increased (and perhaps even changed) by later developments. Picasso painted it urgently and quickly in response to a particular event. That event led to others – some of which nobody could foresee at the time. The German and Italian forces, who in 1937 ensured Franco’s victory, were within three years to have all Europe at their mercy. Guernica was the first town ever bombed in order to intimidate a civilian population; Hiroshima was bombed according to the same calculation.’ Berger seeks to show that Picasso painted from images that had personal, rather than political significance for him. ‘Guernica, then, is a profoundly subjective work … Picasso did not try to imagine the actual event. There is no town, no aeroplanes, no explosion … There are no enemies to accuse. There is no heroism …Where is the protest then? It is in what has happened to the bodies – to the hands, the soles of the feet, the horse’s tongue, the mother’s breasts, the eyes in the head. What has happened to them in being painted is the imaginative equivalent to what happened to them in sensation in the flesh.

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We are made to feel their pain with our eyes. And pain is the protest of the body.’ Berger’s description of Picasso’s method in painting Guernica illustrates a process I am calling ‘transmission’. Transmitting artworks do not describe or replicate literally. Transmitting works draw on personal experience. They make us feel with our eyes. I have coined the term ‘transmitter’ to describe a possible role for the artist in modern city life. This is partly in response to the work of sociologist Zygmunt Bauman7, in re-defining the role of the intellectual in the late 20th century – not so much a legislator, more an interpreter. I also take from Bauman the definition of the city implicit in his words: ‘All modern life is city life, but not all city life is modern.’ These words are true today of life in the countries of central, formerly Eastern, Europe. Transmitter is a term that may help to elucidate a possible role for the artist in today’s society. It comes from the verb to transmit: meaning (a) to send or transfer from one person or place to another to cause or allow to spread

(b)

The second definitional phrase may apply to a pathological state, a disease. By employing this taxonomy, I am moving into a dangerous area. Transmitting an image to someone may also be an act of infection. Some usages of transmit are linked to inheritance and heredity. Joseph Beuys, the German artist and teacher seems to have perceived artists as electrical ‘receivers’ or batteries, fulfilling a role in the 20th century not unlike that of the shaman in pre-Christian society. In touch with both the living and the dead, a source of knowledge and creative energy. The view of the artist as shaman is similar to Rushkin’s perception – someone who can contribute to the health of a community. In reality today art has had an overwhelming commodity value ever since the Renaissance. The spiritual value of art pre-dates the Renaissance. In the theatre the classical notion is of the cathartic (or propaganda) value of the performances. As with visual art, there is an alternative – in pre-Christian, or ‘pagan’ society the performance was probably neither cathartic nor entertaining, but experiential, and practical.

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Performance had a practical value, it got things to happen, it ensured continuity. Few contemporary artforms take into account the effect of creating art on the individual who does it – or on the potential scope of creativity. But I think that a desire to communicate personal experience of the predicament of life is a powerful motivation for some contemporary artists. What is the actual business of art? What is the reason for circulating artistic work in public, apart from feeding the market? The revelatory potential of the arts, especially the potential for revealing the pathological aspects of individual existence is often treated as a daring provocation or a manifestation of post-modernism, either way art may be easily manipulated for commercial or quasi-political ends. The representational or mimetic capacity of most artforms is an important part of their comodification, made financially viable by processes of recording, replication and dissemination. A cultural product (an artwork) that is an imitation of life once recorded, and reproduced in quantity, may be either broadcast or otherwise marketed and sold. This manufacturing process – the basis for the identification of ‘cultural industries’ – has become a powerful determinant of both the form and the content of artistic work. The products of this process are records, tapes, CDs, films, videos, photographically reproduced images of all kinds; their publication and circulation is a major source of both money and influence. These cultural products are an important element in the consumer (cultural) economy. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) recognised this phenomenon in his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’8. Peggy Phelan, the American writer, makes an important point about representation in her book ‘Unmarked’: “Arguing that communities of the hitherto under-represented will be made stronger if representational economies reflect and see them, progressive cultural activists have staked a huge amount on increasing and expanding the visibility of racial, ethnic, and sexual ‘others.’”9 In trying to trace the connections between different responses to the ‘representational economies’, perhaps a line may be drawn from Baudelaire through Walter Benjamin, to the situationist Guy Debord.

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And so it might be argued that this represents the eventual development of a means of coming to terms, however hopelessly, with the psychological, social, and cultural problems of our late 20th century experience, and its technologically sophisticated cultural marketplace. Amongst the elements that form our contemporary culture are: movement from the countryside to the cities; a rapidly increasing rate of information dispersal; greater diversity of personal and cultural experience; hybridity, of place, and of control; the dominance of a retail market-led economy; and greater reliance on visual communication. These things may or may not contribute to the spread of democracy. They are not easy things to reconcile. Natural resistance to an apparent loosening of the rules of language, and to the sometimes evident overthrow of authority, is linked to a powerful fear of ‘otherness’. There is also real insecurity, which seems to accompany an unwillingness to accept ‘multi-culturalism’. At the most extreme this lack of confidence results in racism, fundamentalist reaction, and reactionary nostalgia. Unfortunately, some of these extreme sentiments coincide with the cultural movement towards preservation and replication of ‘heritage’ experiences. It is against this background that the ‘actually occurring act’ – Mikhail Bakhatin’s ‘postupok’10 or live performance should be observed, as a potential defensive reaction; at its worst the riot, at its best the carnival. How does the possibility of self-determined artistic performative action sit with the more difficult aspects of contemporary or postmodern culture? Tery Eagleton, in a book that casts a sceptical light on postmodernism claims that: “everyone has now been converted into consumers, mere empty receptacles of desire. In place of those old autonomous others, who were all too stubbornly specific, there now emerges a portentously generalized Otherness, the particular bearers of which can become indifferently interchangeable: women, Jews, prisoners, gays, aboriginal peoples. Such abstracting is hardly in the spirit of postmodern particularism.11 Whether or not performance, in any of its manifestations fulfils the role of countering this ‘abstracting’ is an ongoing debate. It is true that the personal identity that an act of performance may embody, and project, can be interpreted in a way that supports stereotyping, racial or sexual. However live performance (not recorded, filmed marketed performance) is an activity that is not easily mass-produced.

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One relevant factor is the degree of ‘error’ that occurs in human, live ‘performance’. I suggest that, in the context with which I am dealing, there is a vestigial connection, between John Ruskin (1819-1900), Mikhail Bakhtin (1875-1975) and Sir Karl Popper (b. 1902), whose ideas have inspired George Soros. One perhaps more substantial thread linking these individuals is the conception, birth, and decline, of communism (which Ruskin anticipated, Bakhtin witnessed, and Soros is attempting to bury). An imaginative investment in collective, socially conscious art forms, by Brecht, Beuys, Stockhausen, and artists in other European countries, has been in progress for most of this century. The energy with which modernism has been pursued, and the iconoclastic destructiveness of some avant-garde movements (up to and including Situationism and Punk) have not been the only galvanic currents in 20th century art forms. The history of modernism has not only been the history of shock. The chief conflict I believe has been between representation and inspiration. This has been translated into artistic processes through various dichotomies: applied and fine art; representation and abstraction; figuration and expressionism, (or abstract expressionism). It may be that these polarities were never entirely real, but the inventions of academies and normative political institutions, many of whom were in the service of commercial interests. It may be that today postmodernism has drawn the discourse beyond the scope of these terms. But I believe a central issue remains: is it the purpose of the arts to copy or represent life in a recognisable form, or is it to exist as a result or example of life as it is lived? More succinctly, should the arts describe or transmit? There is another, but related distinction, between instrumentality and intentionality. At the simplest level, there is a difference between artforms that are valued (used) because they can be instrumental in bringing about non-artistic effects, in planning, social issues, health, education; and artforms that exist because the artists have a personal motive for their creation, an intention for which they are willing to claim responsibility. Of course there is an overlap.

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The current absence of artists and their interests from most political agendas in the UK is in part due to their small numbers. It is in part also due to a political movement, since the 60s, away from individual initiatives, and concerns, and towards a sort of ‘consensus’, ‘partnership’, or ‘communitarian’ politics. The most clearly visible form of this new political philosophy is in the New Labour Government’s ‘Best Value’ policy for the delivery of local government services. Because this policy relies on a version of the ‘focus group’, representative of a local community, it may not take into account the activities of individuals who are either highly creative, or a-functional, or both. If a-functionalism is a component of creativity, which I believe it to be, then the new politics of ‘consensus’ etc. may be seriously anti-art. Art for art’s sake (a concept embraced by Christo12 {b. 1935} is a legitimate concept. The problematic area is control, as US and UK government policies show. 2. SOCIOLOGY, PLANNING & EXCLUSION The phenomenon of ‘social exclusion’ is recognized in developed societies. Racist confrontations occur, between economically successful urban communities and those who are less advantaged. Martin Hajer, of the University of Leyden, writes of Rotterdam, in ‘Cultural policy and urban regeneration. The West European experience’13, Hajer says: ‘The challenge to think about design (of the public domain) in terms of its cultural and political implications is even more pressing since for a growing group of people, who are structurally unemployed and living in deprived neighbourhoods, the streets and squares and parks of the city are the last remaining links with the rest of society. The (Rotterdam) council, consciously or unconsciously, keeps the two key problems separate … On the one hand there is the project of … urban renewal directed towards the core of the city. On the other there is the project of … social renewal directed towards the bottom of the ladder. The former is projected on the city centre whilst the latter concentrates on the inner-city areas in the immediate surroundings of the centre: the problem areas of the city where poverty, unemployment, the drug trade and ethnic unrest accumulate.’ (my emphasis)

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Franco Bianchini, in the final chapter of the book from which the above passage is taken points out that ‘It can be risky in the long term for cities to rely on consumption-oriented models of cultural policy-led economic development, even if they may be profitable in the short term, by creating visibility and political returns.’ He also quotes the telling graffiti in Montreal ‘artists are the storm-troopers of gentrification’. Sharon Zukin14 has dealt with this issue, based on the experience of the zoning and development of the TriBeCa, SoHo and NoHo districts of New York. In Sheffield the much promoted, highly visible city centre Cultural Industries Quarter, which contains partially subsidized film, video, photography, and music facilities, is in sharp contrast to the inner ring of former light industrial areas, where ‘underground’ arts activities and ‘squats’ flourish, alongside less high profile leisure activities. There are community centres in this inner ring, some dedicated to specific ethnic communities (eg: Somali refugees). A further contrast is with the location of high-profile sports facilities, in an ‘outer ring’ almost in the outer suburbs. Sheffield is beginning to have the configuration of a ‘double ring doughnut’. Arts facilities and activities in the city sit rather uneasily in this configuration. To some extent these uncertainties reflect the history of Ruskin’s St George’s Museum in, which he first set up in Walkley – a Sheffield district in the inner ring – in 187515. The technique of urban spatial analysis in terms of ‘doughnut’ rings has been referred to as an ‘achievement of the Chicago school;’ and a ‘model of segregation’13 The difficulty with any system of segregation identification is that it may be adopted not simply to inform policy, but to determine it. As Savage and Warde point out (op cit) ‘one should be wary of assuming that the patterns of segregation identified by American urban sociologists apply to Europe.’ Bianchini refers (op cit) to the ‘inadequacies of unrestrained property-led regeneration strategies’ and the ‘ephemeral-permanent’ dichotomy as the cause of dilemmas in cultural funding. There is certainly a problem, as he says, with the allocation of funds, for example lottery money, to permanent buildings, but without available income for activities.

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However, I believe there is a further, or perhaps prior problem, of the allocation of available income to cultural activities that produce objects, which then become exploitable in an economic trading structure that has been developed to complement the manufacturing industries. Ruskin was motivated to disseminate culture in reaction to mass-production. Impressionists, cubists, and avant-garde artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries wished to oppose various aspects of the industrialmilitary complex with objects that would promote a different, more humanitarian visual and intellectual philosophy. Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ illustrates this point. Joseph Beuys, Christo, and the artist to whom Suzi Gablik refers16 amongst others have been trying, since the 60s, to oppose various forms of materialism with alternative philosophies, modern and ancient. Most, if not all of these attempts have been limited by attachment to the art object. This has not always been the artists’ intention. Apart from the commodification of art objects, the very recording and dissemination of information has become a form of (sometimes willing) exploitation17. The situation has been made more critical by the exploitation of intellectual property made possible by advances in information technology. Any substantial new step, for example in the field of cultural policies and funding, could only be possible with recognition of the singular form of creative activity, and the need for a cultural practice that is based on ‘transmission’, instead of manufacture or the communication of information. The artist’s ability to protect the integrity of his or her intention in creating the work, and to keep control of the intellectual property rights in the finished work, is crucial.

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3.

THE OPEN SOCIETY – GEORGE SOROS Working in Central Europe after 1989 – the Fall of the (Berlin) Wall

– has involved a re–adjustment to a political context in which artists from ‘The West’ are no longer identified with dissidence. They are rather seen as gatekeepers to the free market world economy. The keepers, not of the portals to intellectual and artistic freedom, but of the windows of e-commercial opportunity. Instead of a neatly polarized established ‘party line’ and a clandestine underground, there is a shifting, hazy set of aspirations, mainly pursuing financial gain. Artists are mostly marginal in the economy, instead of being either central or invisible. In many countries George Soros has stepped into the breach left by the collapse of most state cultural funding. It is worth looking at him a little more closely. The Foundation for an Open Society is a creation of George Soros, the financier and philanthropist. Soros links his theories on global money markets with ideas which he says are based on Karl Popper’s ‘Open Society and its Enemies’. His philanthropy is funded by his speculative activities in world markets. He recently published a book exploring this field18. Soros’ headquarters are in New York, but he has staff throughout Europe, particularly in the former Soviet Republics. His Foundation is active in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and the countries of former Yugoslavia. The representative of the Soros organization in the UK is Bill McAllister, formerly Director of the ICA. The Foundation for an Open Society promotes contemporary arts through a network of centres and artists. The Soros centres I have visited in Romania and Moldova are well equipped, staffed by students and young arts administrators. The Foundation’s aims cover subsidy for artists, access to information technology in former communist countries, and focussing on the plight of Rom (gypsy) communities. Soros has said that form Karl Popper he has gained the desire to ‘grasp the possibility of error with alacrity’19.

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In Soros’ own words: ‘… it gave me positive pleasure to discover a mistake because I knew it could save me from financial grief.’ (op cit). It seems that Soros has not only profited to some great extent from errors in the capitalist system, but he is keen to establish a doctrine of ‘reflexivity’, not far removed from relativity. A fundamental proposition in Soros’ thinking is the ‘all human constructs are potentially flawed’. He admits that this proposition has no logical proof or scientific status. Apart from his well-publicised views on the weaknesses of both feemarket capitalism, and the command economics of Marxism, Soros disseminates his ideas, through both artists exchange networks, and the centres of contemporary art which he funds in many of the former Soviet Republics. I have visited and worked with some of these centres, and I have found them to be very aware of the possibilities of the type of artist-generated activities I have described as ‘Transmissive’. Soros has identified the predicament of the Roma (gypsy) communities in central European countries as the central problem of post-communist, free-market society. This may seem surprising, but the Roma situation is a cultural problem. The racism and xenophobia generated by the arrival of Slovak Roms in the UK in late 1998, and the ongoing problem of Romanian economic refugees (who are not necessarily Roma) in many (Western) European countries is a symptom of cultural isolation and exclusion. The establishment of an ‘inner’ European community – the signatories to the Schengen agreement – has created a new level of exclusion, analogous with the segregation zones of 1970s planning theory. The Roma are the largest, most visible, and most mobile of the marginalised groups in contemporary European society. It is not surprising that the concept of nomadism should have been sijultaneously picked up by young people in the UK (some known as ‘New Age Travellers’), demonised by UK governments past and present (particularly in the Criminal Justice Act, 1994 qv) and adopted by groups of artists in, for example, French speaking Canada20. In some instances the issuing of Nomad Territories’ passports and connections to the Soros networks take place in the same offices, buy the same hands. David Sibley21 of Hull University has written about different local government ‘solutions’ to providing for gypsies on Sheffield and Hull.

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Short-term political considerations have sometimes influenced policy decisions. Donovan Wylie’s photographs22 of a group of New Age Travellers moving from Gloucestershire (1993)to East London (1997) the experience of a marginalised cultural group. Andrew O’Hagan, who wrote the afterword to Wylie’s book, hypothesises that the pictures in Losing Ground have as much to do with the condition of Donovan Wylie as they do with the conditions of underclass Britain … ‘One of the girls who appears in this book stopped Wylie one day. ‘The only reason we let you into our lives,’ she said, ‘is because you’re just as vulnerable as us.’ O’Hagan describes Wylie’s background, born in Belfast to parents from different sides of the religious divide, and says that he ‘seems always to have had a feeling for exclusion, and self-exclusion too.’ Wylie’s photographs do not depend on reading O’Hagan’s background notes, but the afterword does show how the process of transmission works. It supplies a political context: Margaret Thatcher’s thoughtless, heartless denial of the concept of ‘society’. And a historical context: ‘the 1980s, a time when Britain showed, as it had shown before, how deeply it could fall in love with its own viciousness’. O’Hagan recognises the importance of ‘transmissive’ art forms: ‘Even at this distance, … it is impossible to forget her (Thatcher’s) own cold handling of a country she hardly knew. And in truth few of us knew it. The Britain of the last twenty years has been a vastly under-described territory.’ The work of many documentary filmmakers and photographers in different countries could be described as ‘describing territory’. When these artist/journalists share experience with the subjects of their work, their artforms can be described as ‘transmissive’. Note Andrew O’Hagan’s phrase, ‘A feeling for exclusion, and self-exclusion too’. Is Wylie, or does he risk becoming, a-functional. Wylie’s photographs also featured in an exhibition, simultaneously with publication, at the National Museum of Photography; some were published in the national broadsheet press. Wylie shared some of the travellers’ life, but he is a documentary photographer belonging to the long-established provide a striking, and moving example of the ability of a photographer to ‘transmit’

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Magnum agency, which has a history of association with socially concerned projects. He remains a producer of cultural objects which have become part of the cultural reproductive object-economy. A study by Donald Kenrick and Sian Bakewell23 details some of the problems encountered by the gypsy community, chiefly in the UK. This book has been updated to take account of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) which has targeted travellers of all kinds. 4 THE CHOICES Suzi Gablik describes her book ‘The Reenchantment of Art’24 as ‘a sustained meditation on how we might restore to our culture its sense of aliveness, possibility of magic.’ She deals with contemporary artists who have addressed social and environmental problems, (for example Andy Godsworthy, Suzanne Lacy, Tim Rollins, James Turrell). The artists in her book represent ‘an enlarged ecological perspective, and access to mythic and archetypal sources of spiritual life.’ The opening chapter is headed with a gloomy quotation from D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930): ‘We cannot bear connection. That is our malady. We must break away, and be isolate. We call that being freed, being individual. Beyond a certain point, which we have reached, it is suicide.’ Societal attempts to place creativity equitably within communities, to the generally accepted benefit of society, have often foundered on the difficulty of reconciling unusual behaviour with the creation of work seen as beautiful, original, intellectually gifted, or valuable. Part of the problem is with the definitions of high and low quality, another part derives from the close association between moral worth and aesthetic beauty. The 19th century belief that ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’25 still has currency, even it if is expressed through condemnation of the reverse. The apparently objective enquiries that regularly start ‘should the life of an author/artist/composer be allowed to get in the way of our appreciation of his (usually)/her work? Assume a morality based on the fundamental association of moral worth or truth with the creation of beautiful objects. But there are surely several alternative readings of the relationship between an artist’s work and life.

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Take these extracts from a review by David Lillington of the exhibition at the Cabinet Gallery; ‘Please Don’t Hurt Me’26 “… an area of contemporary art in which the work is often low-tech, “grungie”, and concerned with confessions, identity, “real life”, the body. Cabinet artists … are likely to be “marginalised obsessives”, or to see themselves as such.” Lillington, after introducing some of the work in the exhibition rather sensationally, (a video of a man – Bob Flanagan – pissing blood, a woman (Valie Export) cutting her finger with a Stanley knife, pulling the nail off with her teeth) reveals that the works in the show are neither repellent of off-putting. One exhibit is ‘beautifully made’; the show is ‘the best show of contemporary art in London’; ‘most of (it)… is better than I can convey, stronger and funnier’; ‘an oddly gentle show in many ways’; ‘Being shocking is not the subject of the show’. Some work has a contradictory subtext. Gegory Green, who shows a functioning home-made bomb (not wired up) is actually a pacifist. His artworks provoked predictable reactions in the press, posing the question ‘Does the artist intend his work as an exemplary lesson? If so, why show it in an art gallery?’ Lillington seems puzzled by his own approbation: … The is-it-art? brigade aren’t going to like this. Although I’m not so sure …’ He offers a possible explanation in his description of the exhibition’s curator Jack Jaeger: ‘Dutch-American, middle-aged, gentle, with serious eyes …Jaeger proves elusive.’ Dominic van den Boogerd, a friend of the curator fills in some details: ‘He used to be a film cameraman in the 1960s … The first show he curated was ‘The Red Light Show’, about sex and pornography. He’s very well informed, a very peculiar curator. It’s more of a hobby, for love of art, not to make money. It’s very sincere I think. He has something in his past about German concentration camps. I think his parents were there but if you ask him he won’t talk about it.’ Jaeger is also reported to have talked about a total physical and mental breakdown, which he ‘went through and came out of’. Lillington sees the show as one creation, obviously impressed by Jaeger, and the curator’s sincerity. ‘It occurs to me that perhaps this exhibition is a long meditation on vulnerability.’ One artist’s (Cary Leibovitz) work ‘is about social inadequacy, about his uselessness as an artist, about wanting to be loved.’

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There is little here about the actual artists’ private lives. Eric Gill, on the other hand, the sculptor, engraver and typographer, was attacked posthumously because of his private life. Objections have been raised to his work being sited in Westminster Cathedral – his Stations of the Cross were originally commissioned for the newly-built Cathedral – because of Gill’s incestuous relationship with his own daughters. Arthur Koestler, a highly regarded author, has been re-assessed in some quarters because of well-authenticated reports of his sexual piracy. Ted Hughes is still regarded by some as a controversial figure, and his poetry somewhat diminished, because of the suicide of his wife, the poet Sylvia Plath, in 1963. One of the organisers of the Cabinet Gallery (Martin McGeown) has referred to a literary precedent for ‘Please Don’t Hurt Me’ – ‘Georges Bataille is pivotal because he brings philosophy to its knees by bringing it to eroticism and violence … It’s that tradition of the poète maudit.’ Interest, at times prurient, in the defects of artists, authors and other creative people prompts questions: (1) Is it possible, meaningfully, to link the a-functiononal – for example short-sightedness in impressionist and post-impressionist painters – with their art? Is a-functionalism a factor in producing art? (2) Can the a-function that results from some forms of physical performance, eg dancers’ bodies affected by their activity, writers affected psychologically by the isolation of their work, be seen as a part of the process of producing that work? (3) Are the forms of performance art that involve actual body modification (eg: Orlan, Stelarc) an attempt to rationalize this link? (4) Is there a mental (psychological, neurological) equivalent of these aspects of a-functionalism/dysfunctionalism, which might be discernible in ‘lifestyle’ performance? These questions inevitably return us to the consideration of ‘lifestyle’ artforms, that is to individuals who take on a creative activity that subsumes their life completely. Can there be a definite answer to any of these questions? I think that the answers to some extent may be found in the sociopathological aspects of ‘performance art’, and in the inability of some people – myself included – to deal effectively with some aspects of ‘normal’ life.

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This may be seen in the discrepancy between the simpler forms of economic functionality and the aspirations of ‘artists’. The final point in this paper is a consideration of possibility, or desirability, of attempting to determine the activities of ‘artists’ in society. On the one hand, activities marginal to the economy – hobbies – have a function, which can be described as pacifying. Hobbies keep people quiet and out of harm’s way. On the other, any activity that does not contribute to the social and economic well-being of the community may be thought undesirable. It has already been suggested by one writer that the activities of sadistic and pornographic murderers should be considered as a ‘hobby’, albeit an undesirable one27. Society sets boundaries, and it may be argued that one legitimate role for artists is to constantly test those boundaries. If this testing is harmful to an individual, that may be their choice28. But if, by either volume or intensity/frequency the testing begins to have an effect on others (recreational and other drugs, and the culture that is associated, nomadic lifestyles, non-materialism, pacifism) then ‘society’ acting through the agency of a democratic government, and its forces of law and order, will step in to determine normative behaviour, and close down the testing process. What then are the options of the ‘artist’ who has set out to test the limits of society’s norms? To carry on as a hobbyist? Possibly funded from other sources? To seek other means of bringing about change (terrorism?) To give up and follow the normative path? To find strategies that combine art with other agendas (instrumentality?) What is the significance of artists ‘showing the way’ to flexible jobs, self-employment, development of alternative lifestyles, occupation of alternative living spaces (redundant lofts), drawing on their own resources to create out of ‘nothing’ intellectual property? Are the storm troopers of gentrification’ inevitably to be sacrificed in the predictable battle between haves and have-nots?’ Chris Smith, the minister responsible for culture and media policy in the New Labour Government introduced the concept of ‘creative’ (rather than cultural) industries in December 1998.

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He said that intellectual property was the link between advertising, computer software, design, fashion, films, literature and music. These are products that generate income; the result of making something from nothing. What is difficult to imagine is an economic and employment structure that would accommodate the actual creative processes. The controversy over the application of ‘New Deal’ social security payments to young unemployed musicians, artists, and performers, who are in reality engaged in the research and development of their product is one problem. An insistence on products that will satisfy a consensus market share is another. An expectation that cultural products will always conform to the imagery of adverts for rational optimism and sunny liberal certainties is another. Sharon LeFevre is an artist whose strategy provides a clear, if uncomfortable example of artistic ‘transmission’. In her book ‘Killing me Softly’29 she describes how, as a self-harm victim, she took a degree in dramaq at Aberystwyth University, and has since begun to work in the fields of drama and psychiatry. She uses her own experience, and practice of selfharming in mental health training sessions. END OF LECTURE Postscript Some of the topics dealt with in this lecture relate to my perception of what an artist may do in society. There is clearly a tension between the types of personally dysfunctional work artists like Franco B. Orlan, Gilbert, or George produce and the superficially ‘positive’ images of more conventional painters. It may be that the role that Sharon LeFevre has identified for herself – employing her dysfunction in therapeutic work – is a useful model. But I maintain the view that the creation of art should avoid if possible instrumentality. Art that is justified by its application becomes applied art, and in the visual art field the distinction between fine and applied art is both valid and fundamental. The same holds for music and writing. Theatre, because it depends so much on communicating with an audience, is not so clearly demarcated.

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I have never been directly involved in art therapy. I have occasionally worked with groups of people who might be described as marginalized, excluded in some way from the mainstream of society, but I have not seen myself as someone who brings solutions. I believe that the best I can do is pursue my praxis in an exemplary way, without being influenced by those forces in society that I perceive as negative. One of the potential achievements of contemporary visual (and performance) art is to make visible aspects of human nature that have been hidden. This sometimes produces very difficult imagery. The exhibition ‘Please Don’t Hurt Me’ (January 1995) referred to above is one example. I believe the value of such work is that it provides an opportunity for tolerance, it displays ‘otherness’ to society in a neutral way. I think that pursuing the type of performance art that I do provides the opportunity for the tolerance of a-functionality. This possibly, in sociological terms, reveals me as a Neo-Weberian30. I have not pursued the sociological implications of my praxis, but given time, I am sure I will. I certainly believe that many of the performance works I have created, and this applies to ‘Incorporating’, acknowledge ‘the irrationality of rationality’. I would go further and say that much of my work offers examples of an individual breaking out of Weber’s ‘iron cage’ of rationality.

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NOTES
1 2

‘Rushkin in Sheffield’ Janet Barnes, Sheffield Arts & Museums Dept 1985 quoted in Barnes, p26 from a letter by Ruskin to Cllr Bragge, published by Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 7th Sept., 1875

3

Barnes, ibid, quoted from the Master of the Guild of St. George’s Reports, 1879, 1885 4 Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867): L’Albatros’ 5 Andrew Marr, The Observer Review, 03/01/99 6 ‘The Success & Failure of Picasso’; Penguin Books, 1965 7 Zygmunt Bauman ‘Legislators & Interpreters’, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York 1987 8 Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ originally in German, was published in French in 1936 and in English in 1960 9 Peggy Phelan, ‘Unmarked’ 1993 10 M.M. Bakhtin: Toward a Philosophy of the Act; tr, Vadim Liapunov, University of Texas Press, 1993 11 Terry Eagleton: The Illusions of Postmodernism, Blackwell 1966 12 Christo – Christo Javacheff & Jenne-Claude de Guillebon met in Paris in 1958, their joint projects have been seen around the world, and represent a body of work that is both immensely popular and completely self-determined and financed. They consistently refuse both commissions and subsidy. 13 ‘Cultural policy and urban regeneration. The West European experience’; eds Franco Bianchini and Michael Parkinson, Manchester U.P., 1988 14 Sharon Zukin; ‘Loft Living. Culture and Capital in Urban Change.’ Century Hutchinson, 1988 15 The Ruskin collection of cultural artifacts was moved from premises in Walkley in 1890 to Meersbrook Park, a more middle-class Victorian parkland. In 1985 the Ruskin Gallery was opened in the city centre (but not in the cultural industries quarter) to house what remains of Ruskin’s St George’s collection.
16 17

Suzi Gablik; ‘The reenchantment of Art’ op cit see Peggy Phellan’s book ‘Unmarked’ op cit 18 George Soros; ‘The Crisis of Global Capitalism. Open Society Endangered’ Little, Brown 1998 19 The Editor (Guardian) 02/01/99, p 16 20 ‘The Nomad Territories’ founded by artists in Quebec, in the 90s, with ‘consuls’ in a number of countries, including the UK, is the latest such organization, issuing their own passports to members. Nomad Territories’ passports have been accepted in some situations, but have fallen foul of the border police in, eg Romania. 21 David Sibley; ‘Geographies of Exclusion’, Routledge 1995 22 Donovan Wylie: ‘Losing Ground’, Fourth Estate, 1998 23 Donald Kenrick and Sian Bakewell; ‘On the Verge: the Gypsies of England’, University of Hertforshire Press, 1995 24 Suzi Gablik: ‘The Reenchantment of Art’; Thames & Hudson, 1991 25 John Keats (1795-1821), Ode on a Grecian Urn 26 David Lillington, in The Independent 10th January 1995: ‘Please Don’t Hurt Me’, Cabinet Gallery, London, January ‘95

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27 28

A reference to the crimes of Fred and Rosemary West in 1997(?) eg the ‘Spanner’ case in which a group of men was prosecuted for acts of consensual homo-erotic sado-masochism. 29 Sharon J. LeFevre: ‘Killing me Softly. Self Harm, Survival not Suicide’, Handsell publications 1996 30 Max Weber (1864-1920) German sociologist. Neo-Weberians include Zugmunt Bauman, Jurgen Habermas, David Harvey, George Ritzer, Chris Rojek, Laurie Taylor

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Chapter 6 – iii Copy of the booklet made available to spectators at the ‘Incorporating’ performance – Sheffield , 14-17 September 1999

Drawings of ‘Postupok’ and ‘Incorporating’ performances 1998/99

Contents

1 2 3

INCORPORATING p 120

SOME BACKGROUND pp 121-126 CRITICAL CONTEXT pp 127, 128 4 5 A FICTION pp 129-131 pp 132-141

PARTIAL DIARY

6 ANTECEDENT PERFORMANCES pp 142-145 7 OTHER SIGNIFICANT ARTWORKS pp 146-154

Illustrations Line drawings of ‘postupok’ and ‘incorporating’ Roland Miller

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1 INCORPORATING INTRODUCTION To ‘incorporate’ meaning to ‘combine or unite into one body or substance’1 comes from Middle English: usage seems to have been consistent since the 15th and 16th centuries. The legal application of the word – to the formation of companies – is unchanged. The parish of Sheffield was incorporated as a Borough in 18432. ‘Incorporate’ also has a figurative meaning: to ‘embody’, which well describes one of the techniques of performance art: to reveal, in the human body (its form, actions, effects), something previously intangible. A performance embodies that which had been a concept. Intellectual property incorporated into human activity. ”Incorporating” employs the notion of a loosely drawn grid, in chalk; the graticules (points of intersection) represented by knots, of twine. The vertical and horizontal lines of the grid signify time and space, historical time and present, physical space. The building at the centre of “Incorporating” houses The Garden Rooms, an artist-run complex of workshops and studios. “The Garden Rooms are located in one of the few remaining buildings (48-50 Garden St.) formerly used by ‘Little Mesters’. The first record of the address is from 1841, when the building was registered to William Peace, a file manufacturer. From 1895 until 1939 The Garden Rooms provided the site for Pinder brothers … silversmiths and platers … still thriving in Sheffield today.” (Garden Rooms publicity brochure 1999) Little Mesters were independent craftsmen in Sheffield who carried out skilled work in the cutlery trade, often in their own modest premises. They were not, necessarily, nascent captains of industry. I believe the word Mester is a dialect version of ‘Mister’, rather than the more portentous Master. ‘Mester’ is used in Sheffield today to mean ‘man’, but with a hint of authority. A mother tells her child in the street to be careful to not bump into ‘that mester’.

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3 LOCATION

SOME BACKGROUND

Garden Street, and the surrounding streets, was important in Sheffield’s cutlery trade. “The cutlery industry expanded in this area as the town grew in the 18th C. It became tightly packed with workshops … The characteristic top storey windows and ground floor hearths can be seen in the courtyard(s) …There are early 19th C workshops at nos 48 and 38, which have been used for a variety of trades connected with cutlery such as fork, scissors and shoe knife making and horn dealing.”3 Photographs of individual workers and their premises in Garden Street and surrounding streets have been published in, for example ‘Sheffield Industries, Cutlery, Silver and Edge Tools’4 The caption on page 34 reads: “Court 18, Garden Street …Typically, workshops were built among houses, and, since the needs of cutlers were few, many small workshops could be crammed into yards and alleys almost anywhere”. Other photographs of work in premises in the locality are on page 15: “Grinding a butcher blade, Garden Street, lat 1970s. This was heavy work. In order to press the blade against the wheel, a piece of wood called a ‘flatstick’ was used. This enabled the grinder to grip the blade and control the grinding process. He watched the stream of sparks to see where the blade was being ground, even though the blade was out of sight under the flatstick. Note that he is standing in order to let his weight do the work.” Page 47: “T.H. Stansfield, Garden Street, 1970s. Two men double hand forging mark punches.” Page 75: “During the 1970s, there was much industrial unrest in the country. Footprint Tools suffered a strike from June 1973 to January 1973”. This photograph shows demonstrators carrying a Joint Shop Stewards Committee banner, marching past what appears to be the Footprint Works in Hollis Croft, behind Garden Street. The crown of spectators in the street is applauding. Footprint Tools is still situated in Hollis Croft.

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THE RADICAL TRADITION In the 18th and 19th centuries, Sheffield was well known for its radicalism; “in 1792 a public event was organised in the centre of Sheffield to celebrate the victories of the French Revolutionary armies”5 and the Chartist movement persisted longer in the city than elsewhere in Britain. The independent working conditions of the ‘Little Mesters’ may have contributed to a culture peculiar to the city, with independence of thought, and self-sufficiency. The rapid development of workshop premises was characteristic of other growing industrial centres, but in Sheffield special craft skills were needed to hand-work precious metals. Little Mesters evolved a special working practice in a trade that was not amenable to large-scale mass production. The cutlery trade was both utilitarian and applied art. Religious non-conformism also flourished in Sheffield, established by Puritan Parliamentarians in the 17th Century. John Ruskin gave his ‘opinions’ on communism and art (as it was headlined in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph) at a public meeting in Walkey, Sheffield, in 1876. He had chosen the city to launch his ideas on art and society6. A perceived conflict between individual skill and craftwork and mass production was one of Ruskin’s concerns, and Sheffield must have seemed to embody this problem in a particularly acute form. The pressures industrial revolutions bring to bear on individual self-expression continue today. ”Incorporating” is a solo performance. Like most of the performance works we (Shirley Cameron & I) have carried out in the last 30 years, it is an expression of our personalities in contact with the world we inhabit. Performance Art has given us the opportunity to be reflexive, and then – sometimes immediately – to communicate our responses to others. In the conventional performing arts, these ‘others’ would be members of an audience, assembled to assist in a familiar format. In the taxonomy of performance art, they are perhaps better described as ‘spectators’.

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The word ‘spectator’ is consciously pitched outside the dedicated arts arena, and belongs more to street life, or even to sport. The term also acknowledges an element of ‘spectacle’ in performance art, at variance with the anti-spectacle politics of the Situationists7, who contributed to the development of ‘fringe’ culture in Europe in the 60s. According to Augusto Boal: “The poetics of the oppressed is essentially the poetics of liberation: the spectator no longer delegates power to the characters either to think or to act in his place. The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theatre is action! Perhaps the theatre is not revolutionary in itself; but have no doubts, it is a rehearsal of revolution!8 ARTIST AS TRANSMITTER My current perspective on the role of an artist, and in particular of a performance artist, is that it approximates to that of a person whose function in society is to be without function. The word I currently used to describe this a-functional9 function, not necessarily the most appropriate one, is transmission10. By using ‘transmit’ to describe what an artist may do, in contemporary society, I have tried to convey two main concepts. (1) (2) art is phenomenological – it happens: the ‘creator’ frames the phenomenon, which we then call ‘art. an individual artist transmits to others an impression of life, free of ideological determinism, but subject to individual ethics, inevitably mediated by social systems The communication accomplished by an artwork is not to be treated as a form of propaganda or advertising. Transmission takes place because the artist is a transmitter, the art achieved is an expression of the artist. According to the precepts of both classical and romantic art, it used to be the artist’s role either to simply record, or to provide a utopian vision, or to post a warning of the consequences of wrongdoing. In the current version of modernism, which Zygmunt Bauman calls ‘supermodernism’ and others postmodernism, artists are perceived the communicators of how things are, seen through their sometimes particular, but nevertheless human eyes.

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Bauman characterises the current role of intellectuals as ‘Interpreters’11. The social and political implications of this taxonomy have been examined by the criminologist Jock Young12, who acknowledges Bauman’s influence. Unlike a value-free and mechanistic communicator, the artist/transmitter is able to select who will receive and when. It might be everyone watching broadcast TV. It might be everyone in one place at one time. It might be just you, now. Bauman (op cit) who wrote: “All modern life is city life, but not all city life is modern”13, speaks of: “Receiving on one’s way (through the city) signals in excess of one’s need of orientation …” The artist/transmitter provides a human, identifiable conduit that is detached from the for-profit or for-politics mechanism that controls many of the signals indiscriminately sprayed out to attract consumers. The process of transmission is also a term used in pathology. Just as illness may be transmitted, so an artwork may communicate something that is not desired by society in general. But conditions perceived as pathological, such as madness, could be regarded as beneficial in a society with different values. A DISSIDENT CULTURE When Shirley Cameron and I first began to show our performance art work in Poland in 1978, we became aware that a modernist, avant-garde, tradition ran through the work of some of the artists we encountered. Abstraction and constructivism inspired artists who regarded themselves, at least unofficially, as ‘alternative’. This was a familiar stance in our own geo-political region – in the ‘West’. Throughout the decade after 1968, following the near revolution in the Paris streets, artists in different fields aligned their work with a dissident philosophy. Some small, independent theatre groups in Britain, set up after ’68, decided to work outside conventional theatre buildings, placing less reliance on written ‘authorial’ scripts, and using material hitherto considered outside the accepted canon. These options were partly adopted from necessity.

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The use of aleatoric techniques in music and the inclusion of ‘non musicians’ was favoured by some practitioners14. Concrete Poetry’, which sought to embody poetic concepts in two- or three-dimensional ‘solid’ forms was current, as well as what would today be called ‘performance poetry’. In the visual arts, conceptual, community, and performance artforms were created and promoted in art schools and in the wider context. Installations – in the 60s known as ‘environments’ – could be seen in some art galleries.15 The art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, writing in The Independent16 referred to these tendencies in art in the 60s and 70s as significant ‘Oceanic Swells’. I had encountered these artforms when touring with The People Show17 in the late 60s. In Poland Shirley Cameron and I saw that the state-waged artists had more technical freedom than we had been led to believe. The murals painted to the commissions of official unions or ‘clubs’ were sometimes nonrepresentational, instead of realist. Abstract designs were better paid, but, one suspected, less ideologically sound. When Solidarnosc (Solidarity) began to emerge at the end of the 70s, its acknowledged art style was constructivist. A giant ‘White Cube’ was actually manoeuvred onto the streets of Lodz18 in an art demonstration. The 60s mixture of socio-artistic concerns was recognised by young artists in the countries of the ‘Socialist Block’. The stakes were higher in countries like Poland. In the 60s and 70s, to challenge the authority of the ‘official’ academies of art in Western Europe was an avant-garde act of jouissance. In Poland or the Czech Republic, it was a hanging offence. After 1989 – the fall of the Iron Curtain – the whole system was turned upside down, dissident artists became academicians, in both hemispheres. In the 70s we were looking for artforms that could free us from the discipline and traditions of ‘The Establishment’, and our East European counterparts were searching for forms that would help them overturn ideological, economic, at times physical and psychological centralised state planning. The irony that we might, severally, be about to collide at the frontier between our two systems did not occur to us until Margaret Thatcher became simultaneously a heroine to some Polish dissidents and a hate-figure to many British dissenters.

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In the post-1989 Eastern Block, re-named Central Europe for comfort, artists face new problems. Whilst we in Britain muddle along, clutching at straws of lottery funding, shreds of public subsidy, and the crumbs of commercial sponsorship, our friends in the East are now free both of the shackles of ideological determinism, and of the State financial support they once ‘enjoyed’. In our ‘Western’ economies artists have even less economic support and are often totally harnessed to the ideology of the free market. One individual who has seriously sought a ‘third way’ – that of the ‘Open Society’ – is George Soros; demonised in Britain as a currency speculator, Soros’s combination of philanthropy with cultural liberalism and faith in information technology has led him to fund arts centres, supply information hardware and travel grants to artists in the former communist economies. Artists in Central Europe now inhabit the sort of libertarian postmodernist networks that we dreamt about in the 60s, but without the relatively easy access to money and premises that we enjoyed. Soros writes: “I was greatly influenced by Karl Popper, … whose book Open Society and Its Enemies made sense of the Nazi and communist regimes that I had experienced first hand as an adolescent in Hungary. Those regimes had a common feature: They laid claim to the ultimate truth and they imposed their views on the world by the use of force.”19 Some aspects of the spread of Christianity, for example the Crusades, and the furtherance of the British Empire were also based on a claim of ‘ultimate truth’ and the use of force. My schooling involved a thorough inculcation of militarism and churchgoing, in equal measure. Both seemed to be compulsory. Both bred dissent.

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3 CRITICAL CONTEXT Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) suggested in 1936 that the advance of photography, and the mechanical reproductive techniques it employed involved the ‘destruction’ or ‘decay of the aura’. He linked capitalism with the modern mass media, which threatened the work of art’s ‘seal of authenticity or uniqueness’20. Benjamin’s concern seems to have been with the effect of reproduction and the distribution of representational artworks on people in general, and on the masses in particular. ‘Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art.’21 Peggy Phelan takes this position as a plank of her platform for examining the nature (and the economy) of representation itself. Not as part of an examination of the nature of the ‘aura’ that Benjamin sought to identify, but as an analysis of the sexual psychology of the act of looking. In Unmarked, she says: “Reproduction within portrait photography is always a double copy: an imitation of the gaze of the other and a copy of the negative. As Rosalind Krauss has argued in her rereading of Walter Benjamin, the very concept of artistic ‘originality’ is made impossible by the ontology of the photograph itself22. Without a stable ‘original’, the status of the real also comes under scrutiny. The model’s body is ‘real’, but the image of that body is, like all images, an account of the gaze’s relation to the lure.23 Phelan describes the lure as ‘the erotic kernel of the gaze’24. For me, one important factor distinguishes an act of live performance, a ‘postupok’, to borrow from Bakhtin’s vocabulary25, from any reproduction of that act; or from any setting of it into the form of a reproducible, distributable artefact. This factor can best be described as ‘place specificity’, which was examined in Northern Exchanges 1; the symposium, Huddersfield, 1995, and the subsequent publication26. If I try to take the planks of Phelan’s and Benjamin’s arguments back still further, I find that I am questioning the reproductive and mimetic bases of art itself. Is the purpose of art exclusively to imitate? This excavation exposes the classical basis of Western aesthetics, and the Aristotelian linkage of arts to ethics.

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One of the central notions of classical theatre is catharsis, a process whereby bad occurrences in society may be purged through public expression. Contemporary, post-classical cultural production, which is increasingly dominated by the entertainment industry and its lens-based mechanisms, is also very dependent on simulation. As Benjamin anticipated27, the use of the camera altered the impact of ‘art’ considerably in the 20th century. Jock Young, in his book dealing with Social Exclusion, Crime and Difference28 recognises the new stage which ‘the camera’ has reached in the exercise of cultural influence. “The mass media has become a key element in our lives: mediated relationships become as important as face to face encounters … At no time in human history has so much time been spent in public self-reflection, at no other time have so many people gazed at so many others and has every normative nuance been so measuredly scrutinized.” What part does abjection play in the psychology of contemporary cultural production? The use of ‘face to face encounters’ in performance art sets it aside from other forms of ‘live art’29 and from all reproductive forms. This of course means that the reproductive economy so central to the development of 20th century artforms is not available to practitioners of what I call ‘Performance Simple’30. If there is no ‘product’ of the performance activity that can be marketed in the form of photographs, tapes or films, then a practitioner wishing to earn a living with performance simple must find another way. Finding a non product-oriented reward system entails a reconsideration of current dominant economies.

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4

A FICTION

I slipped along the narrow street beside the large white building, its front inscribed ART GALLERY and CENTRAL LIBRARY. Across the street the former meeting place of the Brotherhood still displayed the arcane symbols of its rites: the pentagram, the compasses, the set-square. Too cunningly set in stone to be erased. The Gallery entrance, between flattened classical columns, up a steep flight of steps, was, as always, cool and dark. It felt like entering a tomb. I had made this little trip so many, many times. Before the years of oppression, during and after the war, and now in the time of feverous freedom. On the face of it, now should be the best of times. We had escaped from tyranny, and we could look at, read, perform, whatever we chose. No more forced optimism, no more contented mediocrity. I climbed, as always, the pale grey steps, avoiding the imagined stain where the blood of a student protester had splashed from the impact of the policeman’s stick. I looked back, once, and glimpsed the huddled body of George S. as he lay dying in the gutter. George had been the Gallery’s Director when the purges redefined what was to be considered as art. For his championing of work not approved, decadent work, George was dismissed, without pension, forbidden to work in any educational or cultural State employment. A year later he died on the street, in the winter, of cold and hunger. Perhaps he had been making one last trip to the Gallery. This figure, the dying ex-Director, was fixed in my mind like a persistent negative. George had been a painter himself, and in the early years of his career he enthusiastically contribute4d to exhibitions of the Radical Free Artists’ Group (RFAG). But as the ideologues began to take over, George was expelled from the RFAG because he worked for the Gallery, as curator. ‘Nobody can be both artist and curator’, they said. George had no private income, no financially supportive family, as did most of the radical artists. Besides, he liked being a curator. He had a passion for art history, he loved the permanent collections, although he detested many of the wealthy owners of the bequeathed works.

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So he gave up exhibiting his paintings (he did not give up painting). Because he believed so fiercely in freedom of expression he could not compromise with the authorities in the way that many artists did. They exhibited approved work, but made their own forbidden work in secret ‘for the drawer’ and showed it privately in their bedrooms. George’s defiance of authority was public; he selected artists who were not members of the Union, dissident artists, untrained artists. He became a scapegoat, his sacrifice was inevitable. George was no politician. This summer, hotter than usual, there was a series of shows of ‘forbidden works’ at the Gallery. The new, privately financed Trust that now ran the Gallery had linked up with an advertising agency to mount what was called a ‘cutting-edge postmodern celebration’. Their subtext was ‘anything goes … or comes’, which apparently had sexual connotations. I knew I would both love and hate the latest exhibition in the series. It was of works purchased by the advertising agency in the past 25 years, and it was called, coyly, ‘QUARTILE’. The art was meant to illuminate the most important quarter of the current century, when, inevitably, the advertising agency had been active in different parts of the world and on both sides of the political divide. Busy selling. Although the exhibition came with a weighty catalogue and a scholarly essay by a tame art critic on the significance of advertising in contemporary culture – quotes from Barthes, Baudrillard, Lacan, and Fuller – it was really a glorified fashion show. The agency had assiduously followed modern art fashion from the outset, acquiring works for their notoriety. Murderers’ self-portraits; pornographic fantasies; conceptual puns; dysfunctional family scenes; bad taste banalisation, a pool of vomit outside an Indian Restaurant. The paintings and photographs were executed with grim reality. I turned up at the Gallery on the opening night partly out of duty – I had a duty to show the people who ran the Trust that ran the Gallery that there were still artists alive in town, and partly out of unrequited curiosity.

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And there was one work that I desperately wanted to see, a canvas by an American artist, one of the so-called abstract expressionists, whom, it was rumoured, the CIA had promoted during the Cold War, to ensnare unsuspecting liberals into the anti-communist cause. Even before I saw the work, a set of dark monochrome rectangles in a darkened room, I knew that I was going to be both elated and depressed. I had taken the precaution, or made the mistake, of reading the catalogue note before entering gallery V, where the work was hung. “There must be a clear preoccupation with death – intimation of mortality, tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death … Hope, ten per cent to make the tragic concept more endurable”. From the artist’s formula for a work of art. But these were not the so-called ‘Black Paintings’, these great voids hanging in the dim spaces of the gallery were effulgent with light. You could say it was an optical effect, you could claim that the artist had achieved a sort of trick. But you would have been wrong. This artist, who had himself commited suicide, had transformed death.

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5

PARTIAL DIARY

I have set aside certain days on which to walk the circuit round Garden Street. I marked those days in June, July, and August that correspond to the four days (14th-17th) in September of the actual performance. This is a speculative exercise. June days are Monday to Thursday, July Wednesday to Saturday. The 17th July is the day of the Broomhall Carnival. August days are Saturday to Tuesday, which will probably be spent abroad. At first I thought that I could carry out an equivalent circumambulation in whatever place I found myself on those days. I realised, however, that to transpose ‘Incorporating’ to different places was not consistent with the place specificity of the piece. The point of doing these preliminary walks is to become better acquainted with the place. I decided to carry out these preliminary outings round Garden Street. The first thing I noticed was the different activities going on inside the open doorways – mostly workshops. There was hammering, sparks and hot metal, also sawdust, music, and machinery whirring. There were smells with these activities, hot oil, wood and the summer smell of buddleia. Many sensations.

Monday 14th June: I walk from the door of the Garden Rooms down the street, across to the ginnel that runs through to the main road – Broad Lane. At the end of the ginnel I see and photograph a used condom. Turn left, down to the car showroom at the bottom of Garden Street, then back up Hollis Croft to the church at the top of the hill. The road dips sharply down to Solly Street. Left past St Vincent’s House, heading up towards the Edward Street Flats. They remind me of the flat I stayed in in Chişinãu, in Pushkin Street; those flats also surrounded a courtyard, and are similar in style. Beyond the flats stands the University Arts Tower, which contains the Bakhtin centre. Left off Solly Street, is the beginning of Garden Street, which seems to have been diverted, perhaps by the compound occupied by the Health & Safety Executive. I keep on up past the H & S E’s post-modern Laboratory, looking for the first turn back to Broad Lane.

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This is a car park. I come out into Broad Lane, and walk down to Fagan’s – the Garden Rooms pub, on the other side of the road. There is a rather odd wide expanse of cobbled pavement here, with some buildings set higher up, as though on a previous street frontage nearer the top of the hill. I had thought of putting photographs on show in Fagan’s. Always looking for a social outlet for the work. I also briefly looked at Edward Street Tenant’s Association meeting room – but finally I decided to centre everything on the Garden Rooms. Later, I walk up to the bookshop on West Street and ordered a largescale map of the Garden Street area. The system they use for reprinting Ordnance Survey maps allows you to focus in at different scales. I finally decide on a ‘Superplan’ at the scale 1:500. The plan is printed. When I get home I put it on the wall, and the shape immediately becomes clear. The whole block, riddled with ginnels, yards, entries, in which is embedded the yard numbers 48 to 50 that contains the Garden Rooms. I draw a freehand line around the ‘Garden St block’ and use this in a design for a card to advertise the performance.

The name ‘Incorporating’ comes from the brass plate on the front door of 48-50 Garden St. I take the card to be printed – orange drawing on ‘paper bag brown’ card – with black print – 500, A3 size. After looking at the photographs I’d taken, some of the pavement, some of the walls, some of distant hills, distant buildings, I decided to stick to the outline, shape on the map. This would mean that ‘Incorporating’ would be much closer to the performances in Slovakia, Hungary and Glasgow. It would be a 1999 version of ‘Postupok’. The Garden Rooms are not a cultural institution, yet, but because I am basing documentary photographs there, the space belongs to what Mikhail Bakhtin calls ‘the world of culture’, whereas everything that occurs on the other side of the ‘postupok’ line is in the ‘world of life’. Bakhtin’s distinction between the two worlds, which he says have ‘absolutely no communication with each other’ is made in ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’, which he wrote in the 1920s.

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The Garden Rooms is by no means a ‘Palace of Art’, but the building is part of the city’s heritage. My chalk line will also designate the contested frontiers between work and play, between manufacture and the domain of intellectual property. By drawing around an entire city block, as in Glasgow, instead of separate building, as in Budapest, I am throwing together art, manufacture, and various service industries – parts of ‘civic’ society. What is left out, in the street, is the bundle of free associations, desires, sensations, and signs, that Steven Pile in ‘The Body and the City (psychoanalysis, space and subjectivity)’ 1996, calls terrae incognitae – unknown lands; the domain of the ‘low-Others’. This is territory explored by H. Lefebvre, G. Rose, D. Sibley, and Stallybrass & White. Sibley (Geographies of Exclusion, 1995), a geographer based in Hull, has dealt with the different local politics of the exclusion of Romanies in Sheffield and Hull. I have found these studies relevant to two of the locations of my performances in 1998/99, at the Red Gallery Hull and the Garden Rooms in Sheffield. Economic exclusion leads to social exclusion, which leads to cultural exclusion and racism.

I need to find a way of marking the verticals in the grid, the graticules, points where the horizontal ‘postupok’ line is intersected by the time arcs. My first thought was to use steel rods, which would arch over in the Garden Rooms courtyard, ends located on the chalk horizontals. But after looking at the site and thinking about what I am creating, it will be better if everything I use is more conceptual. No point in seeming to make a piece of sculpture. But I need to mark the graticules. The best way will be with small string markers – knots – perhaps wherever there is a fixing point already offered. This relates to the marks on plans and drawings, crosses. I began looking for suitable wire to make the verticals, but eventually bought two 150m balls of brown garden twine, ‘This is a natural product that will break down when composted’ it says on the label.

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‘Incorporating’ will consist of two main actions – drawing a chalk line round Garden St as I walk in bare feet, and tying string knots at points where I note time/place graticules. I want to preserve the idea that the horizontal line – chalk – represents place, and the vertically marked graticules represent time. One evening I look down the hill and see a prostitute soliciting on the corner of Garden St & Broad Lane. Thursday 15th July: 2nd walk around Garden St – more photographs, this time more tightly focussed. Friday 16th, Saturday 17th July: Broomhall Carnival; a hectic couple of

days, involving van hire and driving, picking up pieces of portable staging from Garden Street. No time to prepare anything for the Carnival procession. Thursday 22nd July: Opening of the Saatchi Collection in Sheffield exhibition, a curiously spaced out affair. And a lot of bemused faces. Friday 23rd July: London, a meeting at DACS, in Clerkenwell, then a short walk to Exmouth Market, the Church of Christ in Majesty, for the 27 hr reading of Moby Dick. I read my two given chapters – V and XXXII – with a black sou’wester on my head. During the second which is the long one called ‘Cetology’, I sweat so much that liquid spurts down onto the book. It is past 2 in the morning. Throughout the night there are always 4 or 5 spectators in the church. I am using an edition of Moby Dick printed and published in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, 1966. It is a very intense experience. Great wastes of time, without sleep, during which I walk around the area, sit in cafes and pubs, listen to the other readers in the church (everyone reads from the magnificent neo-gothic pulpit) and think about this curious book.

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The vicar of the church and some of his helpers are around, dispensing tea and coffee, and sandwiches from an immense lump of orange cheese. The New York Professor whose idea this is, asks me if the cheese is a mistake, too large? He marshals his graduate helpers, and tries to get me to sign away my copyright (and performance rights). Ironic, I have just come from a meeting about protecting these rights! I am struck, again, by the extremes of wealth and poverty in London. In a window of a bookshop in Exmouth Market, I see one of Iain Sinclair’s books, a title I don’t know, about White Chappell. The shop is closed. Close by the Moby Dick church is the Mount Pleasant Post Office building, on the hill above St Pancras station. My grandfather worked at Mount Pleasant, a clerk in bowler hat, striped trousers and black coat, with a rolled umbrella. A Primitive Methodist. Saturday morning to Worcester Park, where I meet S and her mother. We go together to visit R, S’s brother, in Barnet General Hospital. He is very ill, with cancer. The journey, by train, tube, and bus is hot and long. R is cheerful, as always, but his plight seems desperate. He died one month later. We are all shocked and sad. (return to Sheffield Sunday 25th July). Tuesday 27th July: I buy Iain Sinclair’s White Chappell Scarlet Tracings, the book I saw in Clerkenwell, during the 27-hour ‘Moby Dick’; the paperback edition. I realise the book I had seen in the window would probably have been the first edition, published in 1987 by Goldmark, hand made paper, expensive. I had read Sinclair’s accounts of walks across London, and I was prepared for passages describing dérives (driftings). What I wasn’t prepared for was the pre-occupation with death and physical/mental decay. There is a linkage between Benjamin, Baudelaire, and the nihilistic aspects of the flâneur’s apprehension of the city.

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I know it is also within my consciousness, Walter Benjamin published an essay in 1940 ‘Some Motifs in Baudelaire’ in which he looked at the ‘problems of alienated city life and the shock experienced by the individual amongst the masses and by the worker at the machine’ (Momme Brodersen, Walter Benjamin, a Biography; Verso 1996). Tuesday 10th August: to Le Havre. We almost don’t make the ship because the Virgin train is more than 1 hour late. Four of us collapse at a table on board, relieved. A fellow traveller from Sheffield is an engineering lecturer from Sheffield University, and with him is C, who works in Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. The atmosphere is fine, everyone excited about the Eclipse. No hotel rooms in Le Havre, but C offers us the spare bed and floor in her room. Wednesday 11th August: the Solar Eclipse, which is exhilarating. The cold and dark on the sea are also frightening. The French (and British) spectators are stunned, but mutually appreciative, because we have shared a rare experience. We also visit Rouen, and Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, which are a delight. (return to Sheffield, Sunday 15th August) Monday 16th August: to the printer, the cards are faulty, black marks on the back, they will be re-done. Tuesday 17th August: I am on Radio Sheffield – R’s programme, with 2 CDs – John Cage prepared piano pieces and Velvet Underground. I let R choose the tracks, he picks ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’. We have a pleasant on-air conversation.

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I have also been asked to bring an object. It is the plumb-line that Alberto gave us in Portugal in 1976, when he explained how he had given up making sculpture when the ’74 Revolution occurred, so that he could do building work to help poor people. R insisted that I, an anarchist, had brought a dangerous object into the studio. Wednesday 18th August: a bad migraine attack, as I walk through the park! Friday 20th August: 3rd walk, I set off for Garden Street, intending to make a circuit of the street at 1.00 pm. At Hunter’s Bar I meet B, and our conversation includes the subject of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. I give her some performance invitation cards. By the time I reach Garden St. it is 1.30. I set off down the street and turn up Hollis Croft, where I immediately see numbers of people leaving Footprint Works, from both sides of the street. One or two men are running down the hill. This reminds me of the film by one of the French cinema pioneers (Georges Méliès – Sortie d’Usine, 1896). What surprised me was the enduring nature of the image. Because of the (still) camera I was holding, some of the workers called out to me. According to one source (Histoire du Cinema, Georges Sadoul; Flammarion 1962) Méliès copied the Lumières. I take relatively few photographs on this trip round the Garden Street block – 20. I am now trying not to look for specific images. It was by chance selection that I photographed the Footprint Tools wall with its moulded relief of tools and a footprint, and the ‘SAFE ABORTION SAVES LIVES’ graffiti opposite St Vincent’s Catholic church. Putting those shots into a display under the heading ‘signs’ is OK, and the juxtaposition with the H & S E sign and the condom in the ginnel works, ironically. But if I start looking for such things the background documentation will become a foregrounded record, instead of part of the framing.

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The presence of St Vincent’s, the schools, the boys club in this area are remnants of 19th C attempts to combat vice, that haven’t really succeeded. B says the drawing on the Incorporating card looks ‘like a clown’s shoe’. He doesn’t recognise the outline of the streets. I buy ‘The Exclusive Society’ by Jock Young, whom I heard interviewed by Laurie Taylor of BBC Radio 4. There are a number of references to Zygmunt Bauman. This may cover some of the same ground as David Sibley’s ‘Geographies of Exclusion’.

I arrange to meet B at Garden Rooms to pick up keys to ‘room zero’. I’ve also brought materials to clean ‘INCORPORATING’ on the name plate, again. B gives me keys, but at first wants to show me the larger room on the ground floor, filled with sound gear that he has shown me before. This is set aside for ‘public access’ in the grand scheme – intended for use as a gallery. I have to explain, again, that I’m not interested in this room for the performance. The confusion arises because, with M, I had taken on the role of ‘exhibition and event organiser’ in the Garden Rooms organisation. But that is a different bag! A similar confusion has arisen over the cleaning up of the yard area, which I didn’t want, but which has been done. It is difficult to maintain a space in the state in which it originally existed – dirty/untidy – once it has been designated for (public) performance. This reveals something about the perception of what a performance is and how it should be presented. I go and have an omelette with B in one of the local sandwich bars – on the corner of Bailey Lane and Trippet Lane. I had thought, early on, to include this area in the performance, because of the lively environment (Trippet’s Wine Bar, The Grapes – a music venue), but it is too detached from Garden Street. There is a stone effigy of a dog called ‘STANCH’ over a doorway in Bailey Lane. The café has a range of pop and film posters, and the surrounding streets have an edgy mixture of business premises, rehearsal rooms, and what look like scrap warehouses. It feels like an area in transition all the way from West Street, across Broad Lane and Garden St to Shalesmoor.

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This area is bordered to the west by Netherthorpe Road, a dual carriageway and tramline. There are high-rise blocks of flats on Netherthorpe Road, beyond them the University and its Arts Tower. Running across the eastern end of the area is West Bar and the Sheffield central police station. It is an undeveloped part of the city. It hasn’t been designated a ‘quarter’… yet. Unlike the ‘Devonshire Quarter’ and the ‘University Quarter’ on either side of West Street with their bookshops, cafés and wine bars. Across the city to the South is the ‘Cultural Industries Quarter’, which is said to have ‘critical mass’, but little else. Garden Street and the surrounding streets have a truly mixed economy. There are furniture workshops, a gym, engineering works, car showrooms, flats, a few offices, studios, rehearsal rooms, and artists’ studios. After much thought I decide that the best way to handle the string for the knots is to have cut lengths hanging from my belt. I finally get to enter and stand in ‘room zero’ – on my own, with keys and a tape measure. It is small, about 10ft by 8 ft, with a chimney breast and a double-door heavy metal safe standing in one alcove. There is a dirty, barred window onto the street, and one wall is a rough partition with broken plastic sheeting and boards. The walls on which A has been fixing her sketches have been whitewashed. One of her canvases is in the room – a female figure study, expressionist in style. There are postcards of works by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. It feels strange taking over this young woman’s studio space, after she in turn took over from someone else. Room zero went from Little Mester’s workshop to fine art graduate’s studio, to whatever I am doing. I must think about the safe. M comes downstairs from her studio and we exchange a few words about the future plans for the Garden Rooms. It seems the scheme for which we were recruited onto a Management Board, and given one training session, has fallen through. The bid for SRB funding probably won’t work – no matching funding, payment in arrears, etc. B says it’s ok, (studio) rents are coming in all right.

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R is working on the computer and hopes to raise some funding to employ two people (what for?). B seems relieved. The idea of the Garden Rooms qualifying for European funding on the back of Sheffield being declared part of one of the poorest regions in Europe (S. Yorkshire) was too big to swallow. The little community of musicians, artists, crafts workers, activists in the DIY culture, doesn’t fit into the development picture. We don’t fit. Tuesday 24th August: I buy a copy of ‘Listed Buildings in Sheffield’ by Barbara West. Nos 52, 54, 56 Garden St., are Grad II Listed. These are the buildings just up the hill from Garden Rooms, on the other side of the ginnel. They also house rehearsal spaces. The book reveals that the University Arts Tower is Grade II Listed, and was designed by Gollins. Melvin Ward & Partners, built in 1962-65, and is said to be either (or both) the tallest building in Sheffield and the tallest University building in the country. The Edward St flats are not listed. Sunday 29th August: I buy 10 sheets of ½ inch, light brown blockboard, each 2 ft by 3ft. Also brass screws and dome washers. Monday 30 August: I take the boards to the Garden Rooms and decide where to fix them. A’s painting stuff (and two canvases) is still there, but she promises to move it tomorrow. I make a 4th circuit of the block; because it is Bank Holiday Monday, there is no work, no cars parked in St Vincent’s, no traffic. Only the sound system boys are about, unloading gear and doing a bit of sampling. I take another dozen photographs.

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ANTECEDENT PERFORMANCES “Incorporating” is developed from two earlier performances, carried out in different versions, in five countries, in 1998. Those performances were created during periods of sabbatical leave from the University of Huddersfield. The trip to Slovakia (October 1998) was partially financed by the British Council, Bratislava. My visits to Moldova (May, October 1998) were supported by the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art, Chişinãu. “Incorporating” 1999 is presented as Doctoral research, registered at De Montford University, Leicester. Antecedent performance works: ”What we Bring and What we Find” (I) May ’98 Chişinãu, Moldova photographs by Valeriu Korcimari ”What we Bring and What we Find” (II) October ’98 Sf. Gheorghe, Romania photographs by Uto, Gusztav ”Postupok” I “Postupok” II October ’98 Nové Zamký, Slovakia October ’98 Budapest, Hungary

photographs by Roland Miller ”Postupok” (III) October ‘l8 Glasgow, Scotland

photographs by Roddy Hunter In the 1998 performances I used chalks to draw on the pavement and street, where I walked with bare feet. I began with a series of short lines that were intended to delineate the threshold crossed when the act of performance began. This developed into a continuous line. I adopted bare feet partly instinctively, and partly because I perceived it as a way of beginning ‘on the same level as others in that place’. Shoes are a very strong indicator of wealth and origin. I habitually wear western-style leather shoes, of a traditional design (but bought in sales) that may be associated with ‘Englishness’. Shoes are not unlike accents.

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To walk barefoot on the streets of a strange city is to come into contact with the surface of the place. People notice bare feet, it is a form of nakedness. Bare feet are also associated with death. After I had read that it was an African tradition to scatter cut grass in the threshold of a dead person’s room, I used that custom, when I created an environment on the eighth floor of a condemned tower block in Smethwick, near Birmingham. During the performance of this piece – ‘Ectoplasm’ – I walked around the installation in bare feet, to allude to the approaching ‘death’ of the tower block, and to the presumed deaths of some of its past occupants31. In Chişinãu, May ’98 I gave a performance based on one I had recently given in England32, in which I also had bare feet. There is an allusion to both bare feet and grass in one of Iain Sinclair’s novels33: “My shoes are off. I have walked barefoot in penitence around the body of the church, sweet grass in this foul warren – but the walls are not there.” In spite of one reference to a ‘performance artist’ and a court case in Leeds34, the novel did not provide as much synchronicity as I expected. I was particularly interested in Sinclair’s major work on London35. A book that contains many references to people and places I either know or have known of. Situationism, ex-Angry Brigade members, later domiciled in Sheffield, marginal artistic movements of the 60s and 70s. As a Londoner born, who lived there in the 60s, I appreciate Bauman’s ‘All modern life is city life …36. How intellectual or aesthetic perceptions of life and death in a city transmit or are transmitted to others, whether in the form of written/spoken fiction, film, photography, or through live performance is of constant interest. Finding that I needed to change what I was doing in Chişinãu, during the week of the Festival37, I devised a new performance which I called ‘What we Bring & What we Find’. It was not satisfactory to arrive from a different cultural context with a ready-made event that relied on certain assumptions for its impact. My Hull performance had been built around the difference between acting and performing, but in the languages spoken in Moldova (Romanian and Russian) the distinction is not valid. The use of the street in Chişinãu was novel, and caused some surprise. I found that the post-communist economy of the city exposed the agrarian or peasant basis of Moldovan society.

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I tried to offer my artwork literally at street level, in the way that many goods were offered for sale. I needed to find some reference point for the act of performing that would be relevant to the former Soviet culture. In an early work of Mikhail Bakhtin38, (1895-1975) I found the word postupok’, which seemed to relate to my concept of ‘performance’. I re-read Bakhtin’s text as I travelled in Central Europe, 1995-98, and I became interested in the application of my perception of his ideas to performance art. Bakhtin uses the term ‘postupok’ to mean “an action or act that I choose myself to perform, my ‘own individually answerable act or deed’”39. I understand Bakhtin to make a distinction between those everyday, unique actions that we individuals carry out in our lives, for which we are solely responsible, and those actions or ‘moments of Being’ that are objectified, described in ‘discursive theoretical thinking, historical descriptionexposition, and aesthetic intuition.’40 Bakhtin was working on this text between 1920 and 1924, and it is clear that he intended to deal with the problems of moral philosophy, but the content “spills over into his treatise on aesthetics”41. It was never Bakhtin’s intention, I am sure, to apply his investigation of language to the processes of creativity I attempt to explore in the context of performance art. The conflation is entirely mine! I have taken the word postupok, which Bakhtin applies to the ‘individually answerable act or deed’ and applied it to the actions used in carrying out a performance which is not rehearsed, is unique to the place or time where it occurs, and for which I, as the performer, am solely responsible. In ‘Toward of Philosophy of the Act’, which is a fragmentary text, Bakhtin makes this statement: “…two worlds confront each other, two worlds that have absolutely no communication with each other and are mutually impervious: the world of culture and the world of life, the only world in which we create, cognize, contemplate, love our lives and die…42 I gave a paper at a postgraduate seminar in the Bakhtin Centre in 1998
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on my ‘postupok’ performances.

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I suggested that inside the buildings dedicated to the arts – cinema, palace of art, art school, was the ‘world of life’. It was in this world of life that the ‘postupok’ took place. Therefore, my action of drawing a line from the doorway – left hand side, all round the building, to the right side of the door, was in effect to delineate where ‘performance’ took place. Bakhtin had suggested that the two worlds were mutually exclusive. I suggest that this might still be the case.

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OTHER SIGNIFICANT ARTWORKS

(1) Seed Drill In the 1970s Shirley Cameron and I made a number of performance works for agricultural shows in England and Scotland. We spent several summers touring with different performances which took place in hired marquees. We hired the pitches at each show, so that our work would be seen cheek by jowl with cattle, seed and fertiliser firms, and farm machinery. Our agricultural show places were based on aspects of agrarian life – animal husbandry (rabbits), cultivation (the colour red), the ‘stringing’ of hops, and sowing crops. The first work we created used a horse-drawn seed-drill that I converted to run on a central pivot and sow barley grains coloured with pigment. This performance installation was taken to Milan (1976) where it featured in a British Council sponsored survey exhibition ‘Arte Inglese Oggi’. The drill was bought at a farm bankruptcy sale in Devon, where we were living at the time. It had been my idea to make a performance with a piece of agricultural machinery ever since we began working together. My first idea had been based on the horrific events that occurred from time to time in rural areas, when farm workers were killed by machinery. We saw newspaper coverage of one such incident in Portugal (1974). The local newspaper had published a picture of the victim’s legs sticking out of the back of the machine, as a news item. The sheer cold objectivity of this picture stuck in my mind. I initially had the idea of creating an art installation featuring an agricultural machine being fed human bodies. I abandoned the project when I realised that it might cause distress. Our seed drill performance did not involve violent imagery or actions, the process was one of painting. In a concept similar to the one demonstrated by the ‘painting machines’ in the amusement arcade at Barry Island44, the seed drill created a design from concentric red and white circles. At Barry I had asked Cameron to stand on a table and turn round and round whilst the experimental painting students splashed paint on her white clothes, creating a circular painting on canvases that lay around her. In the agricultural shows we played tapes of J.S. Bach in the tent, as we took turns in walking the seed drill round and round.

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An Olympic show jumper, in tight white jodhpurs, face made up for the TV cameras, came to watch us at the Devon County Show; he called us a ‘waste of space’! In the Milan version Cameron created four tent-like structures out of fabric in shades of red, pink, and white. In each tent dresses of the same material hung, which she would wear in turn. Her other activities included lying spread-eagled on the marble pavement, becoming part of the design, and running round the outside of the circle where the seed drill was sowing its pattern. This work achieved a combination of painting, performance, and sculptural installation. A large crowd of spectators surrounded us each day we performed. An Italian lady gave her interpretation of what we doing – sowing seeds on marble. It symbolised, she said: ‘the hard and thankless work required of people who tried to farm the rocky land in that part of Italy’. There was, at that time, some communist agitation in the streets, protesting against British industrialists (the car industry) causing unemployment in Italy by the closure of factories. Perhaps the British Council’s initiative was in some way linked to British Government attempts to diplomatically counteract left wing influences. (2) Inspection Pit In 1979 we were invited to an artists’ ‘Plener’ at Warcino, in Poland. The event was located in college buildings, and in the grounds was a concrete vehicle ‘inspection pit’. This consisted of two narrow parallel ramps, about 4 ft apart, that rose to a height of 6 ft. Cameron had the top surfaces of the ramps painted white to enhance the sculptural effect. She devised a performance that featured frogs and butterflies. In the inspection pit Cameron, wearing a green dress, progressed along the channel between the ramps upside down until she reached the tin bowl that contained the frogs, under a sheet of glass. She released the frogs. I was dressed in white, and moved simultaneously along the upper wheel ramps of the pit, until I reached a black box, from which I released a cloud of white butterflies. This performance was filmed and broadcast on Polish TV.

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(3) Ectoplasm Smethwick, June 1992; I converted two flats on the 8th floor of this condemned tower block. After searching the other flats for scraps of personal possessions – the flats had been emptied and stripped – I collected together the objects I had found and arranged them in grids on the floor. All bathroom gear I arranged in one of the bathrooms, all cooking equipment, items of food, in a kitchen. Other items were in a bedroom and a ‘living room’. When the public showing of the event happened, late at night, I spread cut grass in the doorways and moved from room to room, barefoot, wearing white. Some of the previous tenants of the flats came to see the installations – 7 other artists were involved, all on lower floors. I found letters in one flat, all replies to a man who had complained of racial discrimination by people to whom he had unsuccessfully applied for jobs, as hospital porter, kitchen porter, storeman, and so on. In the same room were unused vouchers for flights to the West Indies. Halfcompleted model aeroplanes fill a cupboard. I found a man standing by the aeroplanes giving a detailed critique of the construction methods and paint jobs. Toothbrushes abounded, I hear one visitor say: ‘that’s my toothbrush’. We understood that, during the block’s 25-year history there had been 20 or so murders, and 20 or so suicides. Some of the upper floors had been used as a police surveillance post. And yet a number of ex-tenants came to the event, to mark the destruction of their homes, and were genuinely moved by this memorial performance. (4) ‘Kunst wird Material’ was an exhibition shown in The National Gallery, Berlin in 1982. Much of the work interested me because of the way in which the artists used ‘materials’ to create what seemed to be new types of art. I don’t know whether this body of work – 32 artists from different countries – had been designated a ‘school’, the variety of work on show doesn’t really suggest that it should be. When I saw the show, there seemed to be a unifying ‘spirit’, which I guess is a confirmation of the exhibition curators’ skill. Five of the participating artists made work that seems to be particularly significant in the present context.

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Allan Kaprow (b 1927) p 42 “In 1962 withdrawal from conventional exhibition spaces was complete. Everything which I have made as Environments and Happenings since then happened outside: there, where we live, in the kitchen just as in the tram or in the telephone box; somewhere in the country, or also on the Motorway – in our bellies as in our emotions, also in contact with others – I have included everything.”44 Although Kaprow’s statement, from which the extract is taken, and his work over many years indicates a conscious break with traditional fine art practice, the work he showed in Berlin was a re-construction of ‘Yard’ a piece he first made in the backyard of the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, 1961. ‘Yard’ (1982) was an installation made from loose car tyres, in a designated section of the gallery. Michelangelo Pistoletto (b 1933)created ‘Venus in Rags’ (original idea, 1967) in which a heap of rags, visible from the street through a glass wall of the gallery, was shown when one entered the gallery to be covering the front of a life-size classical nude statue of Venus. Nikolaus Lang (b 1941) p 62 the German title of Lang’s work is: “Für Frau G. Nachlass-Lebensmittel – und religiöser Hort”44. There are several possible meanings here, Nachlass can mean remission, discount (in price), assets or posthumous works of literature. Hort is hoard, sanctuary or refuge. The whole title roughly means: ‘For Mrs G. heritage, a hoard of food and religion.’ The work consists of a vast quantity of old groceries, bottles of vinegar, bags of grain, flour, sugar, salt etc., and collections of religious tracts. Everything is laid out on the gallery floor, roughly categorised, but with no labels, or information about origin or age. Strangely, presumably because of the Gallery air conditioning, there were no smells, from materials that should have had a range of perceptible scents.

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Reiner Ruthenbeck (b 1937) p 114 “I don’t make material art, I use materials only to develop concepts“.44 Ruthenbeck’s work ‘Heap of White Paper’ (1970/1982) was a pile of screwed up sheets of paper, 600 according to the catalogue note, 50 cm square. The catalogue also shows a photograph of Ruthenbeck throwing one of the lightly scrunched up papers. Günther Uecker (born 1930) p 134 ‘Sliding stone’; in a description of the piece, Uecker writes “Loam (soil), which is easily shaped and found in all cultural forms, is used here as the basic material for a circle formed by the sliding movement of a stone. The loam comes from the ground in Berlin, the (granite) stone was pushed from Scandinavia to Berlin in the Ice Age”44 (5) Otis Laubert, a Slovak artist whose work I saw in Bratislava in 1990, I was taken to Laubert’s studio, an apartment in the centre of the city. He asked me to wait in the hallway until the room was ready. He also asked me if I would agree never to describe to anyone what I was about to see: I agreed. The lights were turned off, a door opened, and I was led into the darkened room. For some minutes I felt my way around, unable to see. Then the light was turned on. In other parts of the house were many shelves piled with cardboard boxes in which Laubert held a meticulously catalogued collection of small objects collected apparently at random from the streets. It was an archive of detritus. Spillage from the everyday life of the city. The archival details included dates and locations, so that a recent history of the Slovak capital could have been constructed from this information. Laubert’s work and his process are an interesting example of the role of art in changing political contexts. On my most recent visit to Bratislava I saw a copy of the art magazine Život, in which there was an illustrated account of his work.

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In 1990 the Slovak Republic was about to go through a process of detachment from the Czech Republic, and the artists I met there were caught between the euphoria of release from Soviet control (1989) and a headlong flight into the arms of a nationalist, free market economy. I was an honorary advisor to the Slovak Minister of Culture (Ladislav Snopko) from 1990 to 1993, and I saw the effect of these changes on cultural life at first hand. Some Slovak photographers in the group ‘OKO’ were able to print and exhibit images in 1990 that had lain hidden in people’s houses since 1968, when Soviet Block tanks invaded. At the first post-communist artists’ gathering in 1990 I was shown a film of the last gathering and festival in ’68. Many of the ’68 artists were present. A lighted candle stood for one who had died. When I visited Bratislava in 1998, the key image from the OKO exhibition – a man baring his chest in front of a Soviet tank in the main city square – was displayed as a giant poster on the outside of the Artists’ Union building, whose basement had been converted into a public bar and café. What I think links all these works is the use of existing situations, and of materials that carry associations derived from use in an original non-art context. The addition of live performance to a set of aesthetic considerations (for example sculpture) introduces extra-art influences on the art work, with sometimes unforeseen consequences.

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1 2

Sorter O.E.D., 1972 David Hey, A History of Sheffield; Carnegie Publishing, 1998 3 “A Guide to the Industrial History of South Yorkshire” ed. Derek Bayliss. Association for Industrial Archeology, Sheffield 1995 4 Images of England, compiled by Joan Unwin and Ken Hawley, Tempus Publishing, Stroud 1999 5 David Hey “A History of Sheffield”; Carnegie Publishing, 1998 6 Robert Hewison “Art and Society in Sheffield 1876”; Guild of St George Ruskin Lecture 1979; Brentham Press, London 1979 7 Situationism, a fissiparous radical movement of the 60s, of which a key belief was the need to ‘disrupt the spectacle’, seen as a tool of capitalist hegemony 8 August Boal ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ tr. C.A. & M-O L. McBride; Pluto Press, London 1979 9 a-functional; a term suggested to me by Ben Patterson, the Fluxus artist, Nové Zamký, October ‘98 10 I delivered a paper to European Cultural Studies graduate students at De Montfort University, Leicester, January 13th ’99; ‘The artist as Transmitter in the contemporary city.’ 11 Zygmunt Bauman, Legislators and Interpreters – Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York 1987 – ISBN 0 8014 2104 7 12 Jock Young, The Exclusive Society Social Exclusion, Crime and Difference in Late Modernity, Sage Publications, London 1999. See Section 3, p 13 13 Zygmunt Bauman, “Magazyn Sztuki”, Gdansk, No 6/7, 2-3 ‚95 14 aleatoric, improvisatory music, containing random elements within controlled limits that produce chance effects was practiced by American musicians, by Cornelius Cardew and by the Scratch Orchestra 15 Adrian Henri, in ‘Environments and Happenings’ (Thames & Hudson, London 1974) deals with many of these forms. 16 Andrew Graham-Dixon, The Independent, London, 01/01/22 17 The People Show, experimental theatre group founded in the 60s

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shown in a ‘samizdat’ film by Josef Robakowski, which I saw in the Galeria Labyrint, Lublin, 1980 19 George Soros, from the Preface to: The Crisis of Global Capitalism, Little, Brown & Co., London 1998 20 Momme Brodersen, Walter Benjamin A Biography, tr. Malcolm R. Green & Ingrida Ligers, ed. Martina Dervis, Verso 1996. Brodersen cites references in several Benjamin publications – ‘A Small History of Photography’ 1931, and ‘The Storyteller’ 1936, and ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, which appeared (in a French translation) in 1936 after having been heavily criticized by Theodore Adorno and other of Benjamin’s colleagues for being undialectic, unhistorical, far too impudent, and problematic. 21 Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in Illuminations, 1960 p. 214 22 Rosalind Krauss, ‘The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths’ Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institutes of Technology Press, 1985 23 Peggy Phelan, ‘Unmarked’, the Politics of Performance’, Routledge, London & New York 1993 pp. 36, 37 24 Phelan, op cit 25 “Toward a Philosophy of the Act” M.M. Bakhtin, tr. Vadim Liapunov, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1993. 26 ‘Northern Exchanges 1’ ed. Roland Miller & Katharine Robinson, Huddersfield University 1999 27 Walter Benjamin, op cit 28 Jock Young, op cit., Introduction see section 2 29 live art – a term first used by me in the early 1980s to refer to performance art (‘Live Art Works’ @1981), later more widely adopted to cover a range of artforms 30 Performance Simple: a basic form of live visual performance in which the minimum of technical support is used. The activity should be specific to one place and one time, and should be neither recorded nor based upon a pre-existing text. I demonstrated an example of Performance Simple at Dartington College of Arts, June 1999

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A description of ‘Ectoplasm’ (June 1992) follows, in section 7 ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’, Red Gallery and Street, ull, 3rd April ‘98 33 Iain Sinclair ‘White Chappell Scarlet Tracings; Granta Books London 1998 (1st pub. Goldmark 1987) p. 83 34 Iain Sinclair, op cit 1998 p. 185 “The book, by ‘performance-artist’ S.L. Joblard, called Necropathia, dealt with dead things, said Mr. Gilbert Gray, QC, prosecuting at Leeds Crown Court.” 35 Iain Sinclair Lights Out for the Territory; Granta Books London 1997 36 Zygmunt Bauman op cit., see section 2 37 ‘Mona Lisa’s Smile, from Folk Ritual to Techno Culture’ organized by the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art. 38 “Toward a Philosophy of the Act” M.M. Bakhtin, tr. Vadim Liapunov, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1993 39 M.M. Bakhtin, op cit. Note 10 by Vadim Liapunov, p. 81 40 S.G. Bocharov, Introduction to the Russian Edition, 1986 41 M.M. Bakhtin, op cit. p 2 42 “M.M. Bakhtin’s ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ and ‘Performance Art’”, Bakhtin Centre, Sheffield University, 24th November 1998 43 BBC Wales film ‘Catalyst’ on our meeting and first joint work at the Barry Summer School, 1970. Broadcast 1998 44 Kunst Wird Material catalogue, National Gallery, Berlin 1982; translation Roland Miller

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Conclusion Fine, not Applied, Artists evolved in the 19th century. The Romantic Movement was an important element in this evolution. The exigencies of life under Marxist economies and the cold War brought different, sometimes contradictory forces to bear on artists throughout the 20th century. The post-second world war era, with universal State Education and state patronage in a mixed economy conditioned artists. They aspired to become self-employed individuals, serving different markets. This has meant responding to commissioning opportunities indiscriminately, at the mercy of fashion and market forces. In ‘Crisis of Global Capitalism’, George Soros writes about ‘encumbered individuals’: ‘They need to belong to something bigger and more enduring, although, being fallible, they may not recognize that need’ (Soros, 1998: 93). Artists are sometimes profoundly ‘encumbered’. Soros also maintains that, whilst some artists have established ‘their own private language’ the ‘disintegration of common ground’ that this represents is a ‘malaise’ that ‘seems to affect society at large’ (Soros, 1998: 89). My own conclusion, based on experience and observation over the thirty years that have included the ‘defeat’ of socialism by market forces, is that the ‘disintegration of common ground’ in the arts and elsewhere in the society is not necessarily a malaise. It may be a sign of a recognition of the fundamental heterogeneity of human existence. Economic determinism, which Soros seems to embrace, is the real malaise. If ‘Incorporating’ has a message, it is that we all exist, variously, under one sky, and walk one earth. We see and hear many overlapping signals, and are aware of both light and dark phenomena. Only the exceptionally protected, or excluded individuals have much control over their daily environments. A sense of that all-encompassing environment, and a perception of its metaphysical dimensions, is what an artist may be able to transmit.

Written coverage and archival documentation of performance art works by Cameron & Miller

Selected journalism Bateman, Michael (Atticus): Sunday Times, 1971 and 26/03/72 Bates, Merete: The Guardian, 1971 and 24/06/72 Boissieu, Jean: Le Provençal, Marsille 1975 Boyle, Ron: The Daily Express, 15/10/70 Carter, Angela: New Society, ‘Bread on Still Waters’ 1977 Church, Michael: Times Educational Supplement, 21/01/72 Davies, Paul: Coleraine, University of Ulster Davies, Peter: Wester Mail, 10/06/72 Dewhurst, Keith: The Guardian, 05/04/72 Dix, Chris: South Wales Evening Post, ‘Alternative art college’ 11/03/72 Dunne, Colin: Daily Mirror, 26/11/70 Edgar, David: Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 1986 Ferreira, Jaime: O Comércio do Porto, 1974 Gaskill, William: The Times, ‘Come Together’ 21/10/70 Grimley, Terry: The Birmingham Post, 1974 Harris, Steve: Bradford Telegraph and Argus, ‘Theatrical galaxy’ 05/01/72 Henri, Adrian: The Guardian, ‘Boys from the Blackie’ 27/05/88 Hewitt, John: Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 04/03/70 and 28/12/70 Hulme, David: Daily Sketch, 24/11/70 Hunt, Albert: New Society, ‘A Good Night Out’ 06/12/84 Jones, Margaret: South Wales Evening Post, 10/02/72 Kelly, Alex: Live Art Magazine, ‘Incorporating’ Dec/Jan ‘99/00 Marle, Judy: New Statesman, ‘Alchemy’ 21/09/73 McClarence, Stephen: Sheffield Telegraph 1988 Nairn, Ian: Sunday Times Parkin, Michael: The Guardian, ‘Automotive’ 24/11/70 Pearson, Kenneth: Sunday Times, 01/03/70 and 09/04/72 Pickles, Derek: Halifax Evening Courier, 18/05/70

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Seed, Geoffrey: Daily Mail, 24/11/70 Spitzer, Nicholas (aka Nicholas Barter): Time Out, 1971 Studio International: July/Aug ‘76 TKO (London, Ontario): June ‘75 Yeadon, Ken: Leeds Evening Post, 03/07/74 Press coverage has also appeared in: Bath & Wilts Evening Chronicle Daily Mirror Daily Telegraph Het Vrije Volk (Rotterdam) Plays & Players
Rotterdamse Kunststichting ‘Special’

Rotterdamse Nieuwsblad The Sun Time Out Yorkshire Evening Press Yorkshire Post

Archives:

Live Art Archive, University of Brighton Live Art Archive, Nottingham Trent University Performance Archive, Boris Nieslony, Cologne Cameron & Miller, personal archives, Sheffield

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Montage, Collage and Bricolage; the assemblage of ’Incorporating’ 1998/1999

Roland Conrad Miller MA DipDram Thesis submitted for the award of a PhD at De Montfort University May 2000 In two volumes Volume II – photographs

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Commentary on photographic display (accompanying the performance)

I II III IV V VI

Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998 Sf. Gheorghe, Transylvania; October ‘98 Nové Zamký, Slovakia; October ‘98 Budapest, Hungary; October ‘98 Glasgow, Scotland; October ‘98 Sheffield, England; September ‘99

Photographers: Valeriu Korcimari ÜTÕ Gustáv Roddy Hunter Roland Miller © 1998, 1999

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I Chişinãu, Moldava; May 1998

Photographs by: Valeriu Korcimarim and ÜTÕ Gustáv

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(1) Information issued by ETNA Foundation (Sf. Gheorghe, Transylvania, Romania) to introduce my short period as an artist-in-residence in the town: 7-12 October 1998. The three photographic images were taken from a sequence photographed in Chişinãu, Friday May 15th ’98 – see: I 27-29. �

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(2) Poster created for series of workshops at the Soros Centre for Contemporary Arts, Chişinãu, Moldova, October 3/4 1998. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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(3) Poster 2 of 3 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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I Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998 ________________________________________________________________________

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(4) Poster 3 of 3 The three images used in these posters are from a sequence that was one of several taken by Valeriu Korcimari. See: I 30-32.

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(5) Leaflet – produced for the workshops (October ’98) using an image from the first performance sequence in Chişinãu – ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’, which began in the Teatrul Eugene Ionesco, Wedesday May 13th ’98. This image communicates the carnivalesque nature of the garbage-filled vest. The original photograph is at I 7. -----------------------------------------------------------------------6 8 9 The first phase of ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’ began in the Teatrul Eugene Ionesco in Chişinãu, part of the main cultural complex in the Moldovan capital. After some interaction with the spectators in the theatre foyer (6,7) emphasising the difference between those who participated and those who watched (participant= performers/ spectators=actors) I led the crowd outside (8,9) to the informal street market established in the main thoroughfare – Ştevan cel Mare Street. -----------------------------------------------------------------------7

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I Chişinãu, Moldova: May 1998 ________________________________________________________________________ 10 11 12 Approaching the sellers of alcohol, cigarettes and confectionary at the roadside in the centre of Chişinãu. I bought a bottle of beer. This is the equivalent of the sequence in the original performance in Hull (April ’98) when I led the spectators to the pub near the Red Gallery. In Chişinãu I found that a similar strategy was not possible. The Moldovan street market fulfils another of the characteristics of carnival – the purchase and consumption of liquor. End of performance. Three things I did not expect in Chişinãu 1. the telephone calls to my hotel room by prostitutes, whatever time I got in at night, and as soon as I got in. It was a big hotel, in the centre of town. Whilst I was staying there a UNESCO conference of church leaders from many different faiths – representing Christianity, Islam, Judaism – was held on the hotel premises. 2. the ‘gipsy cathedral’ I was shown. This was an ordinary villa, but spacious, in a nice part of town, and owned by a clearly well-off Roma family. It was evident from other non-Roma structures in Chişinãu that decorative work cut from shiny metal (it looked like tin), was a feature of colloquial building work in Moldova. An example can be seen on the ridge of the little roof of the souvenir-shop outside the church in Bulgară Street (13), although this is not shiny. The ‘gipsy cathedral’ had a roof covered in shiny metal, and jagged decorations ran along the gutters, roof ridges, and garden walls. It was not a fortification, but an aesthetic embellishment. The interior of the house was highly decorated, with artificial flowers, fabrics, murals, and holy statues. The householders were courteous and friendly and allowed me to take photographs. My friends at the Soros Centre seemed surprised at my interest in Roma affairs, even more surprised when I wrote, in an account of my visit, that I found the Roma to be ‘well integrated into the community’. This they seemed to imply, was not a cause for approbation – the Roma had been ‘unfaiarly advantaged’ under Soviet rule. 3. When I was walking in the main Chişinãu cemetery on Sunday 17th May I encountered three young men sitting at one of the little tables that grace many of the tombs. They were drinking vodka and eating bread. They invited me to join them, and explained that this was the tomb of one young man’s brother, he had been a musician in a rock band. As is the custom in Orthodox cemeteries, the dead man’s picture was carved into the tombstone, complete with guitar and flared trousers.

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I Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998 I spent the reset of the afternoon with these young men, who told me they came to the cemetery most Sundays. Each time a toast was drunk to the dead brother, one glassful was poured onto the grave ‘for him’ -----------------------------------------------------------------------13 14 15 The church entrance and church shop selling religious items, images, and pamphlets outside which the second performance in Chişinãu took place, in Bulgară Street – Friday May 15th 1998. Note the metal decorations on the roof of the shop. This was the first performance work that same with the category ‘What we bring and what we find’. I had decided to abandon the central concept of the work with which I had come to Moldova ‘The Performer’s Fear of the Actor’ and the metaphorical contraptions that came with it. But, probably because many of the spectators in the street had seen me in the theatre two days previously, there was an inescapable ‘theatricality’ about the new performance, which I could not shake off. This side of the street I thought of as the past: Orthodox Church, military police, peasant environment. Opposite side, the Soros Centre and its Foundation for an Open Society; the future. Bulgară Street itself, with passing traffic; the present. I moved backward and forwards, past to present, present to past, leaving transient (chalk) marks in the present. These 3 photographs reveal a solitary figure with an empty trolley, pausing before the church gate (13); a platoon of police cadets passing in red berets (14) and some of the flora I picked from the roadside (15). This street is in the centre of the city, and yet, as elsewhere in Chişinãu, wild flowers grow there. In another street nearby I found people growing vegetables in the grass verges like allotments. The three vests are hanging on a white painted pole lashed to a concrete post (12, 14)which carried electricity cables. The whitewashed trees and poles were, I think, intended to warn drivers in what were often unlit streets.

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I Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998 City streets. Power supplies in Moldova are far from secure. Much of the city had an improvised, rural appearance. -----------------------------------------------------------------------16 18 19 In the first photograph (16) I am making an equivalent gesture – belly to pole – to the red vest, which I had filled with garbage (I 22, 24) from a nearby skip – (I 42). The blue and gold church dome overlooks the street at this point. I arranged various objects along the kerb, in preparation for the next phase of the performance. Some things I had brought (chalk – 18) some I found in the street (weeds, grass, wood – 17). The spectators stationed on the ‘future’ side of the street included elegantly dressed young women (19) who worked at the Soros Centre, for ‘Uncle George’. Valeriu, the photographer, said that this shot of my bare feet, framed by the young women’s smart shoes, was his favourite. Watching ‘the future’ (from ‘the past’) are shoppers with plastic carrier bags, one can be seen in the background (16). He appears again with a friend and another man (I 27-29). Plastic carrier bags with the slogans and logos of supermarket chains like Sainsbury (not found in Moldova) were on sale in the Chişinãu marketplace. 20 22 21 23 17

Preparatory phase. Gathering weeds and laying sticks, chalk and wood on the kerb and on a concrete slab. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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I Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998 24 25 26 The approach of the police cadets, marching back to barracks – further along Bulgară Street (24). I am standing – deliberately – a small round ‘reviewing’ platform, and I offer them chalk in my outstretched hand. The commander of the platoon, at the rear (25) orders the cadets to break into a run. The platoon is led by a cadet with a red flag: see I 14, 24. After they have passed two spectators seem to have turned their backs (26). -----------------------------------------------------------------------27 28 29

Three spectators who, in October ’98, featured in the Sf Gheorghe poster (I 45). As far as I know, the spectators made no attempt to find out what this curious event was. Yet there seemed to be a nervousness amongst the Soros Centre staff about exposing the foreign performance artists to the street – a Romanian colleague had not been allowed to perform in the street two days before me. -----------------------------------------------------------------------30 31 32

The three ‘foot images’ that Valeriu used in the Soros Centre poster, October ’98 – see: I 2-4. Both this and the previous set of three images illustrate, but their further dissemination, how a performance (and a performer) may be broken down into constituent parts, which in turn form the basis for an iconography that may eventually come to represent the performance and performer in their entirety. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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I Chişinãu, Moldova; May 1998

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Preparation and erection of a wooden structure that forms a focal point for the chalk lines with (36) display of chalks in the hand, prior to further drawing on the street. -� 37 38 39 Chalking in the street (the ‘present’), with the final accession to ‘the future’ (42). Note the skips (42) from which the red vest was filled (I 22 24). � 41 40 42

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Final exit. Note the already disappearing chalk marks on the street (43). With the help of an English tutor from the local Art School (44) I talk about my performance to some of her students. -� -

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II Sf. Gheorghe, Transylvania; October ‘98

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Page 9 from Háromszék, Hungarian language newspaper, Sf. Gheorghe, Friday 9th October ’98; with announcement of my performance printed above a listing of a showing of the film ‘The Full Monty’. The film was shot in Sheffield, and portrays the ‘performances’ of a group of unemployed men in the city. It was shown with Romanian subtitles, to a less than rapturous reception from an audience of mainly young women, having been advertised as ‘Boy’s Striptease’. -----------------------------------------------------------------------2 3 4 Following a short lecture in the Fine Art School, which included a showing of the video by Cathy Wilson of the performance at the Red Gallery, Hull, April ’98 (The Performer’s Fear of the Actor), I took off my shoes and led the students out into the streets of the town (2) to the Central Park. I am carrying in my left hand a set of rings made from cherry wood, cut from my own garden in Sheffield. I also used these rings in Nové Zamký & Budapest, (sections III, IV) to focus on the items of detritus I wished to circle with chalk. The wooden rings represented the ‘What we Bring’ part of my performance title. Finding a similar cherry tree in my friend’s garden in Sf. Gheorghe, I created a new ring from the wood, and left a set of the Sheffield rings hanging in the tree. The cherry wood rings may be seen as a vestigial ‘naïve’ art object, which I decided to omit from performances in this series after Budapest. The use of wooden rings and chalk circles was pleonastic. 3, 4 – walking in the central park and pausing to circle a piece of detritus: not the use of a wooden ring. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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II Sf. Gheorghe, Transylvania; October ‘98 5 7 6

In the central park one of the art school pupils helps with the chalking (5), and on a second circuit of the park (6), we re-visit the marked sites. This retracing of the first path is a way of ‘imprinting’ the event on the memories of those taking part and those watching. (7) at the Tribel Restaurant I discuss the event with the students. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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III Nové Zamký, Slovakia; October ‘98 1 2 3

The Festival (Transart) was based in a cinema; the Kino Meir, which served as a concert hall and theatre. Most of the non-theatrical performance art works took place in the cinema foyer. My performance, scheduled for early evening, started in the foyer and progressed outside and round the entire building (1, 2). Some of the results of this night-time ‘drawing exercise’ could be seen next morning (3) – note the solitary figure in the background, by the small trees, and compare with the empty trolley in Chişinãu (I 13). -----------------------------------------------------------------------4 5 6 Children came and helped me. I gave them chalk, and they drew some of the line around the cinema (4, 5). There was a tall block of flats at the rear of the building, to which the children were called at what was clearly their bed time. When I looked at the ground next morning, at the front of the Kino Meir, I found the three stars of David.

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IV Budapest, Hungary; October 1998 1 3 2 4 5 6

The site of the ‘transart’ Festival in Budapest, was the Mücsarnok’, or ‘Palace of Culture’. This attractive, neo-classical building stands on one side of the ‘Heroes’ Square’, which is dominated by columns and statues commemorating Hungary’s past glories. The Mücsarnok is an impressive symmetrical building, standing along at the edge of a park. As soon as I saw it, I realised that this building could represent the other side of the Bakhtinian diode, of which the positive pole was postupok. The chalk line was drawn at sunset, and the photographs (1-6) show it on the next day. In this performance, as in Nové Zamký, I wrote the words ‘postupok’ and ‘dolzhenstvovanie’ on the ground. Postupok was written at the threshold, outside the line (3), so that anyone waling out of the Mücsarnok would realise that they were leaving the territory of dolzhenstvovanie, and re-entering the real world, the world of Bakhtin’s postupok. Although I retained the concept of the polarities in subsequent performances in 1998/99, I dropped the use of the actual words, which I felt were too literal. I also wanted the ‘meaning’ of the territories I was delineating to be undetermined. The circling of the pieces of detritus remained in Budapest (4,5); at one corner of the Palace of Art, I came across a bottle halffilled with vodka, which I circled. The next day it had gone. One of my colleagues, a performance artist from Krakow in Poland, erected a small wooden structure at the point where he estimated my line would cross the mid-point of the Mücsarnok building. I decided to include it within the territory of dolzhenstvovanie – the ‘ought’. Artur told me that he had erected the marker because of the symmetry of the building, to let me know when I had reached the halfway point. Postupok and dolzhenstvovanie In my reading and re-reading of ’Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ I had formed the impression that Bakhtin was contrasting an ‘individually answerable act’ (postupok) with ‘Dolzhenstvovanie’ – that which one ought to do, or ‘the ought’. The notes to my copy of bakhtin’s text (By Vadim Liapunov) told me that dolzhenstvovanie ‘is an equivalent of the German Sollen (introduced into philosophical terminology by Immanuel Kant).’ I knew that Bakhtin had drawn heavily on Kant in his early studies, and was thought of as a neo-Kantian. In Chişinãu I had been aware of the sharp contrasts between different groups of Moldavans. The young men drinking vodka in the cemetery ‘in memoriam’ to a dead brother. The Roma (gypsies) living in their amazing metal-clad ‘cathedral’. The poor Russian-speaking citizens in the vast open-air market. The smart young people at the Soros Centre, with their digital video equipment and information technology.

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IV Budapest, Hungary. October ‘98
George Soros himself, in his book ‘The Crisis of Global Capitalism’ writes of the Age of Enlightenment being replaced by the Age of Reason, and 200 years later, now, by an Age of Fallibility. Uncle George explains that Kant’s categorical imperatives are no longer valid, because the necessary ‘rational Agent’ is an illusion. Such an individual does not exist, says Uncle George, identified through a process of abstraction. Soros’ own processes have identified an updated version of Kant’s ‘unattached individual’. This is the ‘encumbered individual’ (p. 92). On a previous page (91), Soros refers to individuals whose brains have been identified, through ‘modern neurological research’ as ‘damaged in a peculiar way that left their faculties of detached observation and reasoning intact but damaged their sense of identity. Their judgment was impaired and their behaviour became erratic and irresponsible.’ In view of my own perceptions about an individual (myself) suffering from a sense of alienation, which I identified as a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome, and attempting to make his way in the world as a performing artist, I became interested in Soros contribution to the post-communist world. He has something to say about art. He is clearly, from what I have seen in central Europe, keen to subsidise creative initiatives. In Romania I visited Soros-funded Centres where local artists had been helped by the acquisition of information technological hardware. Indeed the promotional literature produced to support my own performances in 1998 illustrated in this book (1-5) were all produced with Soros funded equipment. In ‘The Crisis of Global Capitalism Soros is pessimistic about modern art: ‘In culture, the debunking of traditional authority gave rise to an intellectual ferment that produced great art and literature, but after a long period of exciting experimentation when all authority had been debunked by the second half of the twentieth century, much of the inspiration seemed to dissipate. The range of possibilities has become too broad to provide the discipline that is required for artistic creation. Some artists and writers manage to establish their own private language but the common ground seems to have disintegrated. The same kind of malaise seems to affect society at large.’ In October ’98, I realised, that when I had changed the nature of my performance on my earlier visit to Chişinãu, that I had been strongly influenced by the context. In May, invited to Chişinãu by Soros Centre workers to take part in their Festival, ‘Giocanda’s Smile: from ritual to techno-culture’, I had discovered a city where many influences jostled for Lebensraum. Apart from the vodka drinkers, Roma, Russian workers, and Romanian-speaking Soros apparatchiks and technocrats, there were also the ghosts of the former Jewish culture for which Chişinãu (or Kishinev) had been famous. I searched, without much success, for information about, or recognition of the massacre of the Jews in the Cossack pogrom of 1909. I had heard that this pogrom, although not large, had given the impetus for much of the initial migration of European Jews to North America. In the Orthodox cemetery, where it is customary to have a portrait of the deceased on the headstone, I found many commemorating married couples where the man’s face had been crudely removed. I was told that these had been Red Army officers.

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IV Budapest, Hungary; October ‘98

I stayed in a flat in a street named after Alexander Pushkin (see photograph No 1, section VI. Pushkin had lived in Chişinãu. Above all there were strange shrifts of identity. Moldova had been part of Romania, easily confused, even in late 20th century guidebooks, with Moldavia. The name Moldova had once been known as Bessarabia, or Basarabia. I later understood from the book by Vesta Goldsworthy, ‘Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination’ (Yale University Press 1998) that the creation of the fictional Balkans, had been a process of Romantic colonisation by the 19th and 20th century writers and political adventurers. The results of this political and cultural imperialism seem to have left Moldova relatively peaceful, at least on the surface. The book provided me with a startling insight into some of the romantic origins of my own performances. When I visited Chişinãu in October ’98, the apparently irresistible march of technology was apparent. An annual festival known as the ‘City Day’ was taking place, a celebration of harvest and trade fair, with folk music, giant displays of fruit and vegetables, and rather dogged consumption of food and drink. It rained for three days non-stop. The City Day in 1998 was sponsored by Voxtel, a French mobile phone company, who were apparently seeking to base their coverage of the post-Soviet Republics in Moldova. My journey to Central Europe in October ’98 began in earnest in Chişinãu, although I visited Vienna on the way there. The confusion of influences and fragments of other cultures was a context I had first observed in May 1998 and tested again in October. By the time I reached Budapest, having spent several days in Bratislava as well as Nové Zamký and Sf. Gheorghe, I was working with a new performance. One that I hoped would illuminate those two polarities I thought I had discovered in Bakhtin’s text: postupok and dolzhenstvovanie. The self-regulated one-off individual action or performance and what one ought to do, the product of ‘official cultural’. Instead of making a public statement about myself, which The Performer’s Fear of the Actor had undoubtedly been, ‘Postupok’ was a visual statement of the line drawn between two worlds. I was the drawer of the line, the artist as ‘Transmitter’.

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V

Glasgow, Scotland; October ‘98

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The building that formed the central site for the event at which my performance was seen in Glasgow was the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie McKintosh. Having taught at the School of Art, I was very familiar with the location. I used an address near the site to stay when I worked in Glasgow 1985-89, and I made performances that involved walking in the streets of the city. (‘Cart-Art’ 1988; ‘In the Pure Dead Brilliant Way’, ‘In the Frame 1989) (1-3) drawing the line in the street next to the Art School. Note the graffiti. (4,5) Sauchiehall Street, lower side of the block containing the Art School. (5) Writing the word ‘Postupok’ outside the cinema – a reprise of the Nové Zamký site. Note the piece of detritus ringed in (5). A young girl helps to draw the line (6)

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99

On four days in September 1999 (14-17th) I created a drawn chalk line around a block of buildings in Sheffield. The shape of the continuous chalk line is represented on the card I used to invite people to watch the work (see front cover). Some elements of this performance were similar to those that I had begun in 1998. ‘Incorporating’ (the title of the Sheffield performance) is taken from the nameplate on the door of 48-50 Garden Street, (44). These are the premises known as ‘The Garden Rooms’, where I based myself during the week of Incorporating. In a small room at the front of The Garden Rooms, on street level, just inside the front door, I placed some of the photographs that are reproduced in this book, but with minimal captions. There was a large safe in the room, a relic of the days when these premises were used by ‘Little Mesters’, independent cutlery makers for whom Sheffield was famous. See chapter 4 and the short review of Incorporating (67) by Alex Kelly. Little Mesters at least one of whom was still working at the end of the 20th century, were the original craftsmen in the 18th and 19th centuries in the city. They worked and often lived in small workshops around narrow courtyards. Perceived now as ‘slum’ dwellings, some of these buildings survive today and have been converted into artists’ and musicians’ studios. The Garden Rooms and other premises in Garden Street are run as independent studios. I covered some of the context of Garden Street and the Garden Rooms in a short booklet that I gave out with the ‘Incorporating’ performance. This is included in the current text – part II Documentation – synthesis, chapter 6 the built environment ----------------------------------------------------------------------1 2

(1) the block of flats in Pushkin St., Chişinãu, where I stayed from October 2nd to 5th ’98, contrasted with the Edward St. flats (2) at the top of Garden St., in Sheffield. Both are examples of public housing, with some communal areas. Other views of the Edward St. flats are shown in (9-11). ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 3 4

(3) bridge over Hollis Croft – opposite side of the site of the block to Garden St. It links two parts of the Footprint Tools factory; see also (53, 59) (4) looking down Garden St. towards the city centre. -----------------------------------------------------------------------5 6 7

(5) wall, Solly St., the ‘flat end’ of the triangular block, beside Provincial House (6, 7, 52), one of the more interesting older buildings, now a business centre. St. Vincent’s Church tower, see also (32, 33, 50), is the background. (7) rear of Provincial House, seen from Garden St. Note the round end to the building. -----------------------------------------------------------------------8 10 9 11

(8) the Health and Safety Executive Laboratory at the top of Garden St. See also (41). This building, with its post-modern shiny metal finial is a bizarre feature of the district, although it sits close to older buildings that house some of Sheffield University’s laboratories, in Broad Lane. (9, 10, 11) different view of the Edward St. flats, see also (2). In the background of (9) can be seen the Arts Tower of Sheffield University. The Tower houses, amongst other things, the Bakhtin Centre, a postgraduate facility devoted to the study of the works of Mikhail Bakhtin and the ‘Bakhtin Circle’. I gave a paper at a Research Seminar in the Bakhtin Centre, on November 24th 1998, title: “Bakhtin’s ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’ and ‘Performance Art’”. The paper is reprinted as Appendix i. More details of the application of ideas derived from a reading of Bakhtin are in section I Analysis, chapter 3 ‘Mikhail Bakhtin’.

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 Flowering bushes ________________ 12 14 13 15

Buddleia thrive on waste sites. On a hot summer’s day the scent from these bushes is pungent. -----------------------------------------------------------------------ginnels _______ 16 18 17 19

A feature of Sheffield streets, a ginnel is defined as ‘a narrow passage between buildings – or walls’ (also known as a snicket). Strictly speaking, only (16) is a ginnel – see also (48). (19) shows the parking place for the trailer used by the Concord Drum & Bugle Corps – see (56). ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Arnold Kellett gives this definition in two books: ”Basic Broad Yorkshire”, 1992, Otley, Smith, Settle; & “The Yorkshire Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition & Folklore”; Otley, Smith, Settle; Otley
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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 Sixteen graticules 20 22 21 23 24 26 25 27 28 30 29 31 32 34 33 35

I secured the string ties to vertical features and other elevated points in the streets around the ‘Incorporating’ site as part of the performance. (32, 33) St Vincent’s church is in the background. I adopted the notion of ‘graticulation’ to describe an imaginary grid of lines with which I criss-crossed the Garden Street/Hollis Croft/ Solly Street site. I wanted to hypothesize a structure within which the Garden Street area could be visualized. One horizontal line, drawn all round the block of buildings, would represent space. Vertical lines, running upwards to the rooftops and down below street level, could represent time. The points at which the verticals and the horizontal intersected would be the ‘graticules’ I decided to mark these imaginary points of intersection at their outer limits, that is where the verticals came close to the horizontal boundary. I used bio-degradable brown string ties for graticular intersections. The string is natural jute, and it corresponds to the natural calcium of which the chalk is composed. The colour, brown, also appears on the performance invitation cards (front cover). This desire to use ‘natural’ materials is something I have tended towards from the very earliest performances, and it was evident in one of the first joint works that Shirley Cameron and I performed, in the Paris Biennale, 1971 , in which I dressed in clothes made from cotton and other natural fibres and Cameron dressed in nylon, polyester and other ‘man’ made fibres. I used wood and jute ready-made objects, she used plastic. Cameron had used fibreglass for many of her sculptures, before I met her. The point of these contrasted materials was aesthetic, but it translated into a marked difference in performance styles. In the early days I tended to be ‘organic’; that is unpredictable, rough, instinctive, whereas Cameron was precise, symmetrical, and polished. In another early performance work with Cameron (‘Ropes’, International Cultural Centre, Antwerp 1973), I used hemp ropes to contrast with polyethylene ones. A vivid contrast is apparent between the appearance, behaviour and ‘feel’ of these different materials, which I have always found expressive.
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the Shorter O.E.D. (1972) gives this definition of graticules: ‘A design or plan divided into squares to facilitate its reproduction on other scales; the style or pattern of such division.’ Longman’s dictionary (1984) has: (1) a usually rectangular network or scale visible when using a telescope, microscope etc … (2) the network of imaginary lines of latitude and longitude on a map. ‘Septième Biennale de Paris 1971’ catalogue – Dutch artists’ section

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 Doorways 36 38 37 39

The doors give access to office premises in Solly St. (36, 37); Hollis Croft (38) and Garden Street, (39). Note the distant red glow of a forge (38) -----------------------------------------------------------------------signs & signifiers 40 41

The premises for sale in Garden Street (40) were auctioned on the first day of the performance of Incorporating – 14th September The Health and Safety Laboratory, at the top of Garden Street with the security camera (41) that will have the only known video documentation of the artist carrying out ‘Incorporating’. See also (8) ------------------------------------------------------------------------

42 43 44 (42) Royal Exchange Building in Garden St., opposite the HSE Laboratory. (43) The Red House, in Solly Street. Referred to as the scene of one of the incidents in the ‘Sheffield Gang Wars’. This passage is taken from J.P. Bean’s book on the subject ‘One incident that received national, as well as local, publicity occurred at the Red House, Solly Street on September 14th, 1925. After a lunchtime melee involving members of the revived Mooney Gang and P.C.s Loxley, Lunn and Farrily. George Wheywell

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J.P. Bean ‘The Sheffield Gang Wars’, Sheffield, D & D Publications 1981

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was later charged with assaulting P.C. Lunn in the execution of his duty. Wheywell cross-summonsed all three constables for assault. On Monday, September 21st, P.C.s Loxley, Lunn and Farrily sat in the second row of the dock at Sheffield Police Court. In front of them sat twenty-seven year old Wheywell. The two cases were heard simultaneously.’ (Bean 1981: 110). Bean recounts some details of the case, including allegations of systematic police brutality. The defendant, George Wheywell is described in court as a member of a rival gang ‘The Park Brigade’, ‘when they decided to “out” the Mooney Gang … (Det. Sgt. Burns) said that Wheywell took “an active part” in the slashing of Frank Kidnew at Sky Edge. He was a man who was “constantly” in rows,” said Sgt. Burns. The Recorder said the police must be protected from acts of violence and sentenced Wheywell to three months hard labour.’ (Bean 1981: 112) The cross-summons against the police was dismissed. George Mooney, leader of the eponymous gang, lived near Garden Street, close to the West Bar central police station (still located there today). The Park was another area of poor housing on the other side of the city centre, below Sky Edge, site of an illegal gambling ring. The Sky Edge ‘tossing’ ring was started before the First World War. During the War it was the haunt of deserters, and the authorities mounted combined military and police operations against the gangs that controlled the gambling. Mooney took over control of Sky Edge ring(s) after the War, when Sheffield had gained comparative economic prosperity from armaments and mining. It was in order to eradicate slum housing that was both unsanitary and difficult to police that the blocks of municipal housing above the railway station, next to Sky Edge were constructed in Sheffield in the 1950s. (44) the sign attached to the door of the Garden Rooms, 48-50 Garden Street, the name for the performance was taken from this sign. The evidence inside the premises at 48-50 Garden St is that the courtyard was at one time busy with different enterprises, each with its own hearth and ventilation system. The metal ducting and supports from these systems remain in place. Families would have lived in the upper rooms. The first recorded ‘Little Mester’ at this address is William Peace, a file maker, 1841. A craftsman jeweller still occupies one of the workshops. The individualised production that preceded ‘incorporation’ must have been analogous to the artist’s world of the 21st century, when ‘portfolio’ working is commonplace. The self-employed individual, serving different markets, often responding to commissioning opportunities indiscriminately, is at the mercy of fashion and market forces. I was struck by one of George Soros’s sentences , writing about ‘encumbered individuals’: ‘They need to belong to something bigger and more enduring, although, being fallible, they may not recognize that need’. Soros also maintains that, whilst some artists have established ‘their own private language’, the ‘disintegration of common ground’ that this represents is a ‘malaise’ that ‘seems to affect society at large’. (Soros, 1998: 89)

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George Soros: 1998 ‘The Crisis of Global Capitalism’; London, Little, Brown p

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45 46 47 (45) Vision Works, a sculpture studio in Garden St. (46, 47) graffiti in Garden St. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

48 49

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The ginnel (48) joining Garden St. and Broad Lane – a major thoroughfare into the city. The condom is evidence of the use of the area as a ‘red light district’. In Sheffield prostitution has largely shifted in the decade from a poor inner city residential area to this location, closer to the growing financial services quarter and the University. The graffiti in Hollis Croft (49) is on a wall opposite the unused St. Vincent’s Catholic Church (50). The church building stands eminently in the middle of a churchyard which is now used as a carpark. (51)the eponymous Beach Signs at the top of Graden Street, which boasts the slogan “Signmasters since 1898”. At the bottom of Hollis Croft and Garden St. is self-styled ‘Dealership’, a car showroom for expensive vehicles (53). The proprietor of The Dealership accosted me during the drawing phase of Incorporating, with hostility and arrogance. He considered chalking on the pavement a criminal offence, and threatened to call the police. This man and Mr. Beach of Beach Signs (57) at the top of Garden St., produced the only negative comments. (52) Provincial House, Solly Street, facing The Red House (43) also (5, 6, 7).

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 54 56 55 57 59 58 60

The Royal Oak, a pub in Hollis Croft (54, 55), was demolished shortly after ‘Incorporating’. It had been empty for some time. Wards Brewery (54), the only remaining Sheffield brewer, closed in 1999, to much local chagrin. Footprint Tools’ factory (57) in Hollis Croft has its sign on the roof. See also (3, 59). Footprint Tools office (59), at the top of Hollis Croft, is decorated with fibreglass casts of tools and – top left – a naked footprint. This is a beautiful coincidence, my adoption of bare feet for this (and analogous) pieces of work preceded by arrival in the Garden St., Hollis Croft area by more than a year. (56) The Croft House Settlement (Garden Street) was originally a Boxing Club for boys. It now houses the Concord Drum & Bugle Corps, a mixed ‘jazz’ band, borrowing some of its techniques from Majorette bands, and a popular entertainment at community events in Sheffield. The Concord logo, on the door handles, also appears on their trailer, parked in a nearby ginnel (19) it depicts a marching musician. The Settlement is a reminder of the times when this used to be a poor residential area. The Saint Luke’s National School Building (58) is another. (59) The foundation stone laid by Mrs. P.J. Benson on a building in Solly Street, on September 14th 1910. By coincidence this was the day in 1999 when I began the Incorporating performance. Also the day (in 1925) when the Gang Warfare incident in The Red House occurred (43) and when the advertised auction took place of premises on Garden Street (40). The numerical correspondences are bizarre, but not, I think, significant. ________________________________________________________________________

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VI Sheffield, England; September ‘99 Interiors 61 63 62 64 65 67 66

These are some of the workshops behind the doors in Garden St., and Hollis Croft. Note the red-hot hearths visible in two of them (61, 62). The men working in one of these shops (64) decided to join in with my performance. Each day they became more involved, starting with their own drawn chalk line, and then ringing a single boot set up in my path with a plastic water bottle stuck in the top for a leg. Finally, on the last day, they asked me if I were ‘an entertainer’. I replied that if I entertained them, than I was an entertainer. The information was gleefully shouted across the road to office workers watching from a building opposite; ‘He’s an entertainer!’ The same information reached two men descending the face of another nearby office block in a cradle. (67) Sawdust bags in the woodwork shop of Footprint Tools in Hollis Croft. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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69-72 (4 pp)

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(68) review by Alex Kelly of ‘Incorporating’, Live Art Magazine, issue No 28, December/February 99/00 p. 23 (69-72) unpublished paper by Roddy Hunter ‘The Process of Going Nowhere: Incorporating by Roland Miller’, Dartington, April 2000 (73) map of the Garden Street site, in central Sheffield In the original display at the Garden Rooms premises during the performance of ‘Incorporating’, there was a 1:500 scale Ordnance Survey site-centred Superplan of Garden Street, Solly Street and Hollis Croft, the area chalked around. The National Grid sheet reference at the centre of the Superplan is: SK3487NE. The technology used to produce the OS Superplan is a grid-based system that may have some equivalence in the imaginary grid and string graticules used in ‘Incorporating’.

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‘The Process of Going Nowhere: Incorporating by Roland Miller’ Roland Miller is a barefoot artist and interregional itinerant. He once, over the course of three days, marked streets surrounding the Garden Rooms in Sheffield with chalk, string and action. These streets themselves map their own circular oblong and the markings offered by the performance held in common with this auto-cartography a map that was neither microcosmic nor macrocosmic. In equal measure was this map neither wholly subjective nor objective. As with the delineation simultaneously rendered by the streets, the artist’s performance marked and mapped itself on a 1:1 ratio. Here was a very credible, and indeed creditable, attempt to give emergence to a performance thoroughly consistent with its methodology. Through mapping in a phenomenological manner, Miller allowed the phenomenology of the place to articulate itself through its own material conditions. Now that the artist’s chalk line has disappeared, the streets themselves may continue to be marked in this way. Miller’s methodology of mapping is quite unlike that behind the Ordnance Survey version of the same area, which he bought before the performance and which came to serve as a crucial starting point. The importance of the OS map to this process was twofold. Firstly, ‘amplifying’ the 1:500 ratio of the OS map to the 1:1 ratio of place and time raised initial material implications of the work. Miller was required to consider the tools and technology of cartography. While OS cartographers employ satellite navigation systems, this artist ultimately opted for string and chalk. Secondly, the dependency upon a grid template in the OS map gave Miller a well-established art historical reference, a particular concern in painting and drawing, from which to work. His superimposition of the OS grid onto the actual place depicted, largely through “tying string knots at points where [he noted] time/place graticules” , revealed manifold contours of difference operating amongst these spatial and temporal ratios. The ‘gaps’ in perception and conception this process provided laid the foundation for Miller’s challenge to the normalised economies of representation, repetition and situation his discourse wished to address. Throughout those three days, I watched this barefoot artist tying knots of twine and marking the relevant streets with what would become a continuous white line of chalk. Although ‘armed’ with a previous knowledge of this artist’s work, and indeed too of its discourse , I was still struck by the instantaneous translation of ratio in the performance. I asked myself ‘can I believe what I am seeing?’ In addition, why, moreover, did I sense an almost voluntary suppression

The Garden Rooms is “an artist-run complex of studios and workshops.” (Miller, Roland, Incorporating, Sheffield: Live Art Press, 1999, p. 17) 2 Miller, Roland, op.cit. 3 I had, in particular, been present at “Postupok” (III), October 1998, Glasgow, Scotland: an antecedent performance of “Incorporating”.
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of doubt within myself? Could I have faith in this artist’s particular synthesis of colliding and colluding nuances of this temporal and spatial context? I hoped I could. In fact, I knew I could. I could and do because I always err on the side of dissenter rather than on the side of caution. I do this, I think, as I am also an artist. It must have been my awareness of this fact, above others, that made me eager for Miller’s innovative and skilful methodology to succeed. It is questionable, however, the extent to which those of us, who were present at the performance on the pretext of its artistic merit, were actually reliable witnesses to what occurred. It is fruitful to ‘read’ such a performance on premises other than those it occupies? This question could mislead if it presumes the art to be apart from inter-relationships of encounter and mediation. ‘Incorporating’ prompted the spectators who asked themselves these questions to re-evaluate their understanding of art practice. Jason Quincey of the University of Sheffield’s Bakhtin Centre usefully writes in this regard: This is the double-bind of postmodern theory: that whilst discourses are seemingly embraced as a valid interpretation – they can also be dismissed as merely an interpretation. Therefore the mechanism remains in place in which, despite the supposed end of privileging, certain discourses may be privileged on the grounds of resources, status, fashion and so on. Yet, was Miller suppressing recognition of his activity as artistic in order that it could actually be so? This is quite probable given his lengthy consideration of both this specific performance and performance-as-art more broadly, evident in the publication accompanying “Incorporating” . I am also fortunate perhaps in being aware of Miller’s interest in the psychopathology of performance, wherein ‘mistaking’ performance as ‘madness’ is as possible as deducing it to be ‘artistic’. In the course of the performance I witnessed several encounters the artist had with individuals who were mostly required to frequent the area by virtue of their employment in offices, shops, or factories. It was clear to me that Miller drew upon either of these perceptions of himself (as ‘artist’ or ‘madman’) as he felt appropriate in any given circumstance of encounter. I am equally sure that his experience as a performance artist allowed him to ‘act’ in either or both of these roles or capacities when he thought it pertinent. The artist himself highlights another important aspect of this matter in the ‘Incorporating’ publication. The use of ‘face to face encounters’ in performance art sets it aside from other forms of ‘live art’ and from all reproductive forms. This of course means that the reproductive economy so central to the development of 20th century artforms is not available to practitioners of what I call ‘Performance Simple’ .

Quinsey, Jason ‘Problematic Theses?: The Crisis of Academic Writing in the Postmodern World’ http://www2.shef.ac.uk/uni/academic/a-c/bakh/jason.html 5 Miller, Roland, ibid. 6 Miller, Roland, ibid, p. 13.
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This nonreproductive element of performance can make it appear dysfunctional, If so, it becomes an obstacle (and possibly a threat) to reproduction. An extraneous apparition that predicates its own minority economy of rationale and, as such, endures attempts launched against it in defence of the economy of a dominant rationale. In his efforts to wholly locate, and almost ‘secrete’, ‘Incorporating’, within actual everyday life (as opposed to simply within a notion of ‘the everyday’), Miller risks finding his performance mapped and seemingly destined for such dysfunction. This tellingly occurred during the performance in an encounter he had with a BMW ‘dealership’, and particularly its management staff, at the bottom of Garden Street. In addition to ‘discussing’ the legal rights-of-way as regards the pavement nearest the showroom, they also debated what should occur there given ‘the interests of the dealership’. By this act of encounter, Miller incorporated this contemporary commercial corporate body into his performance in parallel with, and in contrast to, a local history of independent craftsmen working in the same area. Miller believes these craftsmen of the cutlery trade “were not necessarily, nascent captains of industry” . By these means, the performance portends reminders both welcome (of uncharacteristically affirming experiences for which we are now nostalgic) and unwelcome (that these experiences are now past.) Incorporating invokes comparisons between contemporary corporate bodies and yet-to-be-incorporated sole practitioners with their historical counterparts of agrarianbased nation states and nomadic settlers respectively. It is useful to consider Kenneth White’s view in this regard: I suggest we look first to Southern Siberia, in the second millennium B.C., the far-eastern point of Palaeolithic civilisation. The tribes were beginning to settle down into societies based on a productive economy, [and by] the middle of the second millennium, […] people were apparently ensconced, once and maybe for all, in comfort and prosperity – but it was just at that moment that several tribes dropped out and turned nomad. Which meant extensive movement rather than sedentary business, dispersion among nature rather than huddling round social edifices, an adventure in space rather than the security of codes […] I am not proposing that we turn ourselves into Mongols. I am simply suggesting that something similar is happening today. At the very peak of industrialised civilisation, a discontent has manifested itself, a discontent that has not merely run itself down into quiet desperation. It is as though civilisation were, to say the least, badly in need of breathing space. My inclination to apply an idea of nomadism, as a trajectory resisting the obligatory disenfranchisement of corporatism, to Miller’s Incorporating can only be successful if we remember that the nomad does not ‘move’. Deleuze & Guattari have previously elaborated upon this, choosing to believe the Arnold

Miller, Roland, ibid. p. 6 White, Kenneth, ‘The Nomadist Manifesto, in Gairfish, The McAvantgarde, Dundee: 1992, p. 61
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Toynbee is profoundly right to suggest that the nomad is on the contrary he who does not move.” They continue: Whereas the migrant leaves behind a milieu that has become amorphous or hostile, the nomad is one who does not depart, does not want to depart, who clings to the smooth space left by the receding forest, where the steppe or the desert advance, and who invents nomadism as a response to this challenge. Toynbee’s earlier articulation of this challenge revolves around the observation that the nomad tribe, having the ability to domesticate animals, did not share with the agrarian state a need to extend its borders in pursuit of more land. By contrast, the nomad would adapt to the in hospitability of their environment by seasonably rotating their activities within different areas of their plateau. This would thus only result in the crossing of a border when agrarians would newly declare one within the nomad’s territory. Thus, it is not the nomad who moves . If we accept contemporary corporate bodies, made manifest by the tentacles that are their ‘franchises’, as descendants of agrarian states, then we are compelled to consider Miller’s actions as demonstrably nomadic. The actuality of this analogy finds greater pertinence if we consider the impact of the contemporary corporate body in rendering differences in public consciousness between work and leisure, desire and ruin, function and dysfunction. Indeed, in the process of going nowhere, the artist drew a chalk line precisely to mark these specialist binaries. They are, after all, as ever present and apparent in the area surrounding the Garden Rooms as they are throughout the milieu of contemporary culture. Whether it is possible to discern or account for these binaries on any particular map depends upon the methodology and matrix employed in its origination. In the case of Incorporating, the performance renders a map and the map renders performance simultaneously. Both were as nonreproductive and they were instrumental in actualising this artist’s discourse which is ultimately in opposition to definitions of quality. Roddy Hunter Dartington, April 2000

see Toynbee, Arnold, A Study of History, abridged by D.C. Somerwell, New York: Oxford University Press, Vol 1, 1974 pp. 164-68 10 Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Félix, Nomadology: The War Machine, tr. Brian Bassumi, New York: Semiotext (e), 1986, p. 51 11 Deleuz, Gilles & Guattari, Félix, op. cit. 12 Toynbee, Arnold, op. cit.
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