Week 8 – Archiving the Work in Progress

For today’s lecture we had a guest lecturer Tamara Meneghini, she is the Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Tamara spoke about her project “the great goddess bazaar” and the ideas of mask in theatre and performance. She started the lecture by asking what a mask is and together we concluded that the possibilities for what could be conceived as a mask are endless. Things which we concluded that could be a mask where clothing, language, wedding veils, make up, hair and body piercings. She then moved on to explaining how masks are relevant to her production, the great goddess bazaar is a one women performance exploring a range of women in the current American media including a politician, a solider and a house wife. So the question was how one woman can portray all these personas, easy answer by using a mask.

Tamara’s company tried using actual masks but they became too limiting and so she had to find new inspiration, what do all women have, and the answer she came to was shoes. All women love shoes so why not change shoes with each character. Also the concept of feet and shoes are something very close to Tamara’s heart, she finds feet very interesting as they are the part of our body that keeps us grounded to the earth, before we can do any movement we must move through our feet.

Tamara then went on to explain the power that emotions have and how we as actors can use emotions, the best practical inspiration for emotions is the Rassas boxes which address sadness, rage, love, fear, disgust, courage and laughter. To successfully portray these elements we first must get in touch with our own breath as breath is the core to every movement, sound and being of an actor.  The final thing that Tamara mentioned was style and how we must engage with our own style, but how do we define style Tamara herself does not have a complete definition but she likes to share one given to her by a student. Style is “A thousand nameless little things that nobody knows but everybody feels”

With Tarmaras’ lecture completed we moved on to the practical part of this session. The first thing that my group did was decided that we need to complete the filming for our project soon and so we have set the date for filming at Saturday the 13th April 2013. With a goal to no reach we had some minor loose ends that needed tying up firstly we needed vows and secondly Lucy’s  promises are no longer appropriate and so these needed to be altered.

For the vows we wanted something legally binding and religious so we have chosen

“I, take you, to be my friend, my lover, the mother of my children and my wife. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.” (http://www.itakeyou.co.uk/wedding-ideas/traditional-religious-wedding-vows.htm)

We chose these vows as they symbolise the pain and difficulty the couple have to go through to make this wedding real and the strength of the love required to make it through the other side. For the promises we chose to keep to poetic rhythm of Lucy’s promises but changed the words to more relevant words for this we chose-

Oh Love, Oh Cage,

Oh Love, Oh Prison,

A desperate little love, a heart with no freedom

My Love, My Truth

My Love, Their Laws

Together we fight, apart we fall

With these loose ends tied up we had to agree on the location of the filming and what shots we wish to take. For the location we have chosen West Ham Park as this is scenic and has wedding gazebos. For the shot ideas I will look into these in my own time.

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Reading 10- Phelan, P. “Unmarked: the Politics of Performance”

This reading addressed many issues raised through performances and its archival process. Firstly the reading explained that for a piece to be successful in the archive it needs to disappear, what this means is that the piece itself needs to be untraceable, so no video recordings,  so that audience members can be allowed to remember the piece they saw. Theatre pieces can never be repeated as they are are an event that are subject to their time and place, two elements which without the function of time travel once passed cannot be relived, so they can only be re-performed. To re-perform a piece means to take the piece and reenact it with the social and political influences of the current director. The reading then progresses to looking into more detail in how a performance piece is heavily depended on the memory they leave. An example of this point is Sophie Calle and her work in art galleries, she has produced two theatre pieces one was centered around some missing paints, the other on paintings on loan. For her pieces she asked visitors and staff members to give a description of the missing paints and even draw them and then placing all this information around the empty space in the gallery. By doing this she showed that many pieces are brought to life more effectively in their recreation through memory than by the actual object itself.

The final thing that this reading looked at were the power of not being able to make eye contact with an artist. Phelan gave many examples of work through the past years that have had the artist either disappearing as part of the performance or that had the face of the artist unseen.  Phelan explains that when an audience member cannot make physical eye contact with the art work or artist they actually have to observe more, this is because they have to see the piece in detail before they will actually be able to see the piece and its full meaning.

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Reading 9- Rebecca Schneider, “Performing Remains: Art and War in the Times of Theatrical Re-enactment”

The following reading explored historical war events such as 9/11 through the lens of an archive. The reading spoke of how archives can bring to life events concealed in the past not always for the better. Many wars have their facts and figures locked in a government archive to only be released to the public through government digression. The reading spoke of how facts can be changed and altered to limit countries vulnerability, what this means is that certain governments may chose to only release part of the facts to their public so if the story does meet the wrong hands it cannot cause astronomical damage to that same country. Having wars archived can be a wonderful idea as it allows members of the public to engage with their cultural history but in the wrong hands can also be dangerous.

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Reading 8- Jacques Derrida “Archive Fever”

This reading explored the practitioner Freud and his opinions on archives and the way a performance is expressed within an archive. I found this reading hard to follow and struggled to find its meaning within the module. From the reading Freud has explored that archives are made possible by death and destruction, as an artist passes away their work becomes even more important in the creative industry. This is because with their absence they are no longer available to answer questions regarding their work and so the only things left to the world is what has been archived.

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Reading 7: Archive or Memory? The Detritus of Live Performance

This reading like the one before started off by looking at how we archive a performance and the fears that an artist faces when creating a performance. Many people are concerned when creating a performance how long will it last or be remembered and will try to archive their work in the best possible form, the main concern is that there is no better way to archive a performance than the memories of its spectators’ but how do you relay this to future viewers.

When it comes to personal memory it is the best way to determine the success of a show, how much is the performance spoken about, do people want to see it again and would they take the time to review the piece. All of these things are brought to life when a person recalls their memories but how we lock this in to a document still amazes artists.

One of the many ways being considered is “Detritus”, when a performance is taking place there will be very carefully planned out transitions between scenes to insure the stage and space remain in perfectly condition however, if props and general stage mess was to be left on the stage as the performance progresses what would be the end image. There have been many shows where this method has been tried and photographed but this still excludes personal memory, it implies impact that future viewers can see the piece for themselves but it doesn’t reveal what it was like to actually see the piece.

Archiving for a performance is difficult but can be done; it is simply finding the best resource to fit your performance in question.

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Group Practical Discussion

Yesterday I and my group met for a discussion on our practical project, we met to discuss where it was going, is the original project still suitable and with that in mind where are we going to progress from here.

To start the conversation I thought it important to outline that we have five weeks now left of this module of which we had four till our practical work was due in for submission. I outlined that we have our archive material that we wish to work from “Lucy X- marriage to art” and that we have now completed the research in the laws of marriage. From this information we as a group realized that it is impossible to legally marry a piece of art or any inanimate object for that matter. Marriage laws very clearly state that you have to be human with proof of birth, both things an object can’t prove.  So where do we progress from here, well after a long conversation regarding the module, what we think its been about, where we think it has all been going and what we feel we have taken from the past seven weeks this is the conclusion we came to.

The module and material – from the past seven weeks we feel as a group the module has taught us what an archive is, how to produce archival material and what should and should not go in the archive. So with this in mind we feel that we should be producing archival material as our final piece as this is where all our readings have led us. The material we have gathered from Lucy X came from one single box, there is no trace of her work on the internet and therefore if this box is burnt or distorted would that mean her work would be forever lost to the world?

Our project – with all this information and the discussions we had we have come to the conclusion that we can not stage the marriage to art as its impossible so instead we are going to create a box just like Lucy’s entitled “The impossible wedding”. The box will be displayed as an instillation with the contents displayed around the room and at the end of our piece will all be placed back in the box and sealed for archival storage. The box will include the following materials –

  • All the legal laws about marriage in England which will be placed around the room on A4 paper- this will be placed in the box at the end of the piece
  • A disposable camera which will allow audience members to take pictures of things that stand out to them or that cause an impact, this camera will not be developed- when at a wedding hundreds of pictures are taken to which only a handful are even seen, what happens to the rest, they are lost in time with only our memories to remain. With this in mind we will have photographs taken and store them in the box to stay with those who took the picture.
  • Digital camera to take pictures that will be seen by future viewers of the project
  • A DVD of the staged wedding which we will arrange even though it can never be real- throughout the instillation the film will be showing and the empty box will remain to symbolize its final resting place
  • The vows and speeches written and recorded- for the instillation these will be playing on loop over the film of the wedding and the written words spread around the room
  • Slice of Cake- in the instillation there will be a perfect white wedding cake however part of the project will be to cut the cake to reveal the colour inside

Our new idea of our project is to address judgmental opinions regarding weddings, so the cake will seem normal until further investigation, the speeches will be normal until the speaker is revealed and the wedding will seem normal when shot from the back until the actors turn round at the end of the film. The piece will aim to leave its audience members questioning what they consider right for a wedding.

As we have to show something next week in lecture we are going to bring along the box in its current condition and explain the new project, we understand the risks in changing our piece so much so late to the deadline however we feel this is the best way to better the project.

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Reading 6: Eugenio Barba, “Eftermaele: That which will be said afterwards.”

This was a very short reading focused around how an artist speaks to their future audience members. The reading addresses that a performance has to be able to engage its current spectators but it is also the responsibility of the men and women behind the piece to find a way to make this piece travel to its futures heirs. This could be through documentation or personal memory of those there in its original staging.

In context for Lucy’s piece that I am studying she created her piece and then stored artifacts from the day and the creation in a box which was donated to a women’s arts collection. This collection was then donated to Goldsmiths as their original home was removed and then finally it was Anthea who introduced me to the box as she felt it would be of interest.

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Marriage Laws in England

Simplified laws

  • Must be over 18 and different genders and free to marry
  • Can not marry blood relatives , Adopted children or adoptive parents but they are allowed to marry the rest of their adoptive family, including their adoptive brother or sister.
    • People who are step relations or in-laws may marry only in certain circumstances.
    • A marriage can take place in a Register Office, a Church , a Meeting House, any other religious building, premises approved by the local authority, a place where one partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover, the home of one of the partners if the partner is housebound, a hospital or a prison
  • the marriage must be conducted by a person or in the presence of a person authorised to register marriages in the district
  • the marriage must be entered in the marriage register and signed by both parties, two witnesses, the person who conducted the ceremony and, if that person is not authorised to register marriages, the person who is registering the marriage.
  • You and your partner must give notice of marriage in your local Register Office,
  • both partners must be resident in England or Wales for seven days before notice is given (on the eighth day). A notice must state where the marriage is to take place. The marriage can then take place after 15 days have elapsed from the date on which notice of the marriage is entered in the marriage notice book.
  • The information which may be required is evidence of  name and address, evidence of date of birth, evidence of nationality.
  • The marriage ceremony in the local Register Office or local authority approved premises will take approximately 10-15  minutes. The Superintendent Registrar or Registrar in Northern Ireland  will make a short statement about marriage; you can ask the registrar  beforehand to indicate what form of words will be used. It is not possible to use religious words in the civil ceremony. However, the ceremony may include readings, songs or music that contain reference to a god as long  as they are in an ‘essentially non-religious context’.
  • Each partner is required to repeat a standard set of promises. These may not be changed, but may be added to, as long as the  additions are not religious. Rings are not required but can be exchanged  if the couple wishes to.

After the ceremony, the marriage register is signed by both partners. Two witnesses, who must be over 16, must also sign at the time of the marriage. Witnesses must understand the language of the ceremony and have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the ceremony. Register Office staff are not allowed to act as witnesses.

Vows and promises

There are three options which cannot be changed by law for the vows but the promises of a wedding can be anything within reasoning. All promises and vows must be checked by the register minister or secretary

for the more indepth details of these laws here is a word document containing that information

marriage laws

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Week 7 – Gaps/ Layers/ Doors: Archive Fevers

This week’s lecture was hosted by a guest lecturer from Columbia College Chicago, Brian Shaw, with this in mind I don’t think we followed the plan for the lecture that had already been arranged. The original Lecture question was “What other online/ physical archives can assist documentary performance?” But as this was a lecture lead by Brian and not Eve as previously stated I would presume this was not the new focus question. Like the last two weeks this lecture was also split down into two sections theory and practical.

Theory with Brian

We started the session by playing games of murder where you walk around the space and one pre selected person kills everyone one by one by giving them a special hand shake until they are discovered.  We played this game to warm and wake us up and to prepare us for the theory to follow. The next exercise we were given was to get into pairs, then in these pairs we had to each tell one and other about a time in our lives when one of our secrets was exposed for the world to know and how we felt about this. We were then asked to discuss what the relationship was  like with the secret teller and the person who found out about the secret. In my case I know longer talk to the teller due to other reasons but this was a contributing factor however I gained a better relationship with one of the persons concerned in the secret.

We were then asked did we tell the secret if not or so why? For me and my partner we both told our secrets to each other, I believe this was because we are close friends and therefore trust each other and also once the secret was told all those years ago it was no longer a secret. However for me I found this exercise interesting as I would have never before consider the concept of how easily we revel secrets in conversation to those we trust.

The session then moved on to looking at Mark Lombardi, Lombardi was considered an “American Neo-Conceptualist and an abstract artist. His major legacy was linked to his large-scale linear diagrams attempting to trace the structures of financial and political power, corruption and affairs among capitalists, politicians, corporations, and governments.” http://socks-studio.com/2012/08/22/mark-lombardi/ it has been said that due to the way Lombardi chooses to display his findings that when you look at a Lombardi pieces it appears to resembles an atomic structure. Below are some images for you to make your own choice.

04-Mark-Lombardi lombardi1 lombardi2

The session finished by looking at Brian’s own company and some of their past work which he considers archival. One of the pieces we looked at was called Doorslam, the piece was created from the directors experience when working in a hotel. The director recalls a day when every time he opened a door he was convinced he would see his double on the other side and by the time he reached the end of his shift he was an emotional wreck. So this piece looks at what it would have been like to see that double so the clip we saw follow this link: http://plasticene.com/

Practical

The session then moved into the practical part, for this session we were given time to build upon the material we had already developed however due to personal commitments the last week we didn’t have all the research finished and so were allowed to go to a study area to finalize our research material. For the remainder of the session we watched some of the other groups and gave feedback which could be relayed to our work as well.

Portfolio task 6– using three interviews from the unfinished histories website construct a creative narrative map for performance

Plan for the Easter break

  • Catch up on the readings and maybe read the next weeks to be ahead of myself
  • Complete this week’s portfolio task
  • Create our practical piece
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PortfolioTask 5 Short Essay

How have you personally responded to archive materials?

I have personally taken the initial archive material on Lucy X and her wedding and tried to discover as much more as possible, I then created a power point of this research. Then next I have researched into other weddings and the background behind the artist’s decisions and the messages that these works displays. With these researches I have then considered the how we are going to stage the wedding and what elements of wedding come with their own story such as the white dress, the bride walks down slowly the aisle with her father and the rings. With all this research I  now need to obtain the laws of marriage and then start to respond creatively by creating the video for the project with the other members of my group.

What questions do they raise?

From studying Lucy X’s work and her wedding there are many questions that if I could meet her I would have loved to have asked. The first would be why she did not make it official and actually marry this piece of art, was it because it not physically possible or is it because she is rebelling against the idea of marriage and therefore to marry the artwork would have been to give in to the pressure. I would have also liked to ask her why if she loved the art work so much then did she then sell it on after the wedding and why make plans to divorce the art work within five years.  Through all the research I have done and been able to gather her motivations and reasoning always seems to be the grey area and I would like to know why. I simply  question whether she just did not have a reason and was hoping to find it along the way.

What traces do you want to explore?

From the work we have now gained I and the group want to look further into the practicality of staging a wedding to art –  is it possible to make it legal and what really were the things Lucy had to consider when she make the choice to marry her art work.

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