Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A sculptor making live work not ART!

On and Off Stage: Experimental Theatre and Visual Art Performance- a lecture talk at the Barbican Centre chaired by Joe Kelleher with Theatre maker Tim Etchells, Sculptor Bruce McLean and Performance artist Tai Shani. (Curated and managed by Emma Ridgeway)

An interesting evening with debates between performance work, performance art and live art works. Tim Etchells opened to describe the ‘Event’ taking place between visual art, installation and fiction, and how this event determines the relationship with the viewer.

“The event of encountering art,
The event of encountering each other!” (Etchells 2011)

The idea of having an unknown narrative- the viewer is already in a performance that you do not know the boundaries of. You are entering a world- established?- where the outcome matters entirely with the event of you/the viewer inhabiting that environment/ space. Creating a live performance that is full of risk and excitement with an unforeseen narrative arc.

Leading into visual artist; Tai Shani who is interested in making live work by searching for intensity within her process. This often looks at the concept of making work that has a lot of ‘risk’; trying to find the failure of live work, and letting that play towards a viewer. The way in which she was speaking made me think of her as being a new Forced Entertainment mind, creating challenges and games where her work could epically fail or push interesting boundaries. Immanent catastrophe!

But who is this a failure for? The artist? The actors/performers? The viewer?

Shani: “Artist as themselves. But if you gave the actors space to play- then it’s all play- the failure is the overall result/ the questions being explored”.

Sculpting your presence…

Bruce McLean a sculptor (making live work). This interesting, exciting ‘can hardly contain himself’ man has throughout his career question what it is to be a sculpture, to make sculptures. He is very much interested in the mistake- the failure. He reiterates that his work does not exist, he takes no photos- it’s live and it ends.

The talk progressed into the conversation topic of art in spaces, McLean questioning why do we need to go to a Gallery to see art;

“Art doesn’t take place in a gallery. Theatre doesn’t take place in a theatre. It’s in the streets, in our restaurants.” (McLean 2011)

Visual images are vast becoming everywhere in our societies lives, from media slogans, advertisements, live art, graffiti to traditional portraiture. A lot of art pieces are becoming too institutionalized where it no longer becomes about creatively challenging work but accommodating artistic work to ‘fit in’ with corporate guidelines etc. How do you need an audience to watch?

Coming away from this talk I found myself liberated to be in admiration of a sculptor who doesn’t create ART, but makes live work, that after time only becomes a memory- it’s the liveness of his pieces that create the piece of work itself. I must say Bruce McLean has restored my faith in art as a form to reveal live performance.

And what occurred to me as a viewer of this discussion is that all three practitioners in their own field are interested and fighting to create ‘live’ work, (I wonder if they knew it also?)

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