Time For A Trial Run

027‘Both performance and archaeology work with fragment and with trace. Performance and social practise, and their subsequent documentation or representation, through surviving traces and fragments, constitute heterogeneous  assemblages’1  

Dunking A Page In Water, Taken By: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

After putting together some initial ideas, we decided it was time to perform a test run and see what works best when it comes to provoking an audience response. We had already purchased some books to destroy in preparation. Two members of the group had also begun working on a new way to make the dresses which included buying skirts from charity shops, and attaching pages to the hem.

After the dresses were complete we started to test some of our ideas from previous research on sacrifice. The first idea was dipping pages into water and allowing it to subtly disintegrate over a long period of time.

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(Becky Eating A Page, Taken by: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13.)

Next, we tried to chew one of the books we had just purchased. This worked well at the start, however, after a while the taste of the old books became quite sickening and the pages were still readable. This led to us thinking up some other concepts. Having been working with safety pins to make the dresses, we decided to slowly pin prick a page and see what happened. The motion of pricking the page looked aesthetically pleasing and also destroyed the pages effectively.

We began to think about the fact the dresses we will be wearing are very feminine, and the idea of stereotypical woman’s work as ‘Some women did indeed work full-time for wages in a place outside their home such as a workshop, shop or factory, or on the land, while others worked full-time for wages in their own home cleaning and cooking’2 The concept of scrubbing came up, which is a motion that would have been used in home cleaning processes in the 1900’s and was something we all agreed would look effective.

While two of us were practising ways to destroy, the other two members began to experiment with the leftover book pages and started to add to our dresses. The expansion began with scattering a few pages to make a small train. After viewing a few pictures and hearing some feedback, we too realised it look extremely beautiful. In the end the expansion took over the aisles and meant people walking past had to take notice. Next the expansion took to the actual book aisles themselves. It looked like we were becoming at one with the aisles, or like we were a book emerging from them; however a broken book.

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Emerging From The Aisle, Both Taken by Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

To achieve this effect in the performance however, one member of the group will need to be forming the connections, rather than standing in a dress. Each performer in the dress will also still be destroying a book based on fact, whilst wearing the religion.The merging with the aisles could be seen to represent the expansion of religion within libraries. Once the entire book has been destroyed in one of our chosen methods, the performer will break free from the dress and walk away leaving the piles of destroyed books and pages behind them. Hopefully, the mess we create and leave will inspire the audience to think about the books we have destroyed and just left.

  1. Shanks, M. Pearson, M. (2001) Theatre Archaeology London: Routledge p55 []
  2. Roberts, E. (1988) Women’s Work 1840-1940 The Macmillan Press. p2 []
Posted: March 28th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres
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