Today was our final performance after ten weeks of research, development and creation the final event was upon us. Looking back of the process of creating our work I personally do believe we have made the most changes to our work. Our piece was a response to Lucy X Exaqua’s marriage to art and an understanding of the laws surrounding marriage to anything other than the opposite sex. Originally the piece was meant to see a young female marry a robot and an exploration of the way to work around the laws that England has in place to make this impossible. However after some further research into the British marriage laws it became very clear that marring anything that isn’t human is impossible as both parties require a birth certificate and proof of residence. So the project moved a corner and became more about looking into ways people can marry the things they love and preconceptions around marriage, but this image also had its faults and sank with the others. So here we are today with our final piece that explores the ideas of commitment and why when we think of commitment do we assume marriage. Lucy X Exaqua was committed to her art work and that is why she chose to marry it but we also wanted to explore who has the right to determine what we are or are not allowed to be committed to.
Our piece took on a wedding fair style setting with the marriage laws hung from different places around the room and various tables designed to look like stalls. We had four tables one with the original film footage playing of a wedding asking why, when we think of commitment do we think of a wedding. Another displayed a fake cake, rings and photographs prompting the question why do we need all of these objects to feel committed when none of it is a legal requirement. Another had a book on it that asked its audience members to explain what they think a wedding and marriage is and finally the fourth table had a box which asked the audience to write down if they could commit to anything what it would be and post it in the box.
For the performance itself we allowed the audience to enter the room look around the room and fill out the book and box and when we as the artists felt it right we began to read out the book, the commitment confessions and ripping down the laws. The performance was planned to end with the main objects from the performance concealed in a box just like Lucy X Exaqua however this wasn’t what actually happened on the day.
Before I evaluate the negatives of our performance I thought I would look at the positive first. One of the main points that were conveyed to us from the audience were that visually the room at the beginning of the performance was very effective especially the spacing of the tables as this meant that no one felt cramped or struggled to see an object. The number and location of the laws was also commented one as being just enough that everyone had an opportunity to see all of the twelve in the set. I also think that some of the laws surprised some of the members of the audience especially the fact that rings are not necessary by law and only by the couple’s wishes, as on several occasions I spotted different members of the audience reading the laws and then discussing it with other members or looking shocked. The participatory part of the performance was also successful although the audience did have to be shown the objects and their purpose before they made entries into the book, the box and taking pictures.
From one of our lecturers we gathered the feedback that she preferred the start to our piece where she could walk around the space in her own time and struggled to understand the reasoning to the removal of the laws from the space. She explained that she thought the concept was already clear enough from just the instillation that the performance elements were possibly unnecessarily and didn’t further the piece, on the positive side though she did believe the piece could speak for itself.
Although we did have many positive elements to our performances there were also some negative elements, the first point to be made was an observation made by ourselves that when we started the performance element of the instillation the audience stopped moving around. Upon reflection in most performances that we attend when a practical performance is taking place we do generally stop and observe in a space that feels right for us. We don’t normally walk around with the actors unless prompted by them to do so, so with this point in mind I believe that it was our personal fault that the audience stopped moving around. If we had taken to time to consider more carefully the objective then we may have been able to put some form of speech in place that ensured the audience remained moving. The second point to be made was although the audience members did fill out the book, they did take pictures and they did reveal who they would commit to, not many of the audience actually took part in these activities. This was due to a lack of time, as the performances had to be completed in a maximum of ten minutes the audience was not given the time necessary for for everyone to take part. If we could revisit this performance I personally think that we should have given more time to this element of the instillation and maybe even removed the element of practical performance.
The last fault in the performance was a human error that affected the ending of the piece. The performance as previously stated was meant to end with us ripping down the laws and packing the key elements in a box, instead the performance ended very abruptly when one of the classroom lights fell from the ceiling. The reason for this was down to miss-communication between group members and human error. The laws for our performance where suspended from thick washing line that looped around one of the ceiling lights, the rope was meant to be duct taped to the wall so that when pulled it would release and fall down. The problem however occurred when one of the group members actually knotted the rope to the pluming pipe so when pulled by myself it became tight and pulled the lighting fixture down instead. The main question we had to ask ourselves was did the laws even need to be pulled down in the first place or would just placing the objects in the box have been effective on its own.
Looking back over our whole piece, its process to create and perform there are many things I would have done differently. I believe that I should have spoken to one of the lecturers earlier regarding what they actually wanted from us because if we had spoken to them sooner the project may have found its feet much quicker. Having done this it would have given us the chance to show more work in progress and gather the much needed feedback. Although I don’t think I would have changed the archival material as I still find it fascinating and really feel passionate about the end piece I do believe that we should have spent more time discussing how we were going to make the instillation more performative instead of the discussing the location of the laws. With more planning the lighting accident would have never occurred and we may have discovered that performance was not needed in the instillation at all. I do not regret the material we choose to study for the instillation piece we subsequently produced, I just feel with more time and research the final project could have been far better than it was.
See below for a slide show of the preparation for the event.