Babel

The Grain Escape Goes Global

 

The day of the performance came and we had a strong clear insight into our plans. We had previously taken all the cakes we had baked and the necessary furniture to the library before hand so in the morning all we had to do was ‘pop up’ the café. Everything we had brought together to form the café worked well, from the initial presentation of the space to our standardised uniforms. The attention to detail was key. We had someone at the door giving the participants name tags and allocating them a class similar to that of ‘Duckie- The class club’. Once allocated they would either be seated and obtain first class service or essentially work for their cake; showing the class difference. When entering the café, we would often split group members up and assign them different stations. The response was what we expected; people would ask ‘why’ and state that they felt ‘different’ when they had to work to be seated. However this is what we wanted them to feel. The participants seemed to enjoy the historical aspect of the café and intrigued to learn what it was specifically used for since some of the original workings of the building are still visible.

 1     1374  2

We had a strong structure to the performance, with a change of stations every thirty minutes, with a whistle to signify the change. Then on the hour we would all line up and go out side for a cigarette break to signify the working aspect of the warehouse. It was these elements to the performance which gave it the authenticity.

Many performers can take a space and make it their own, many of which either do this successfully or not. I believe our performance was a success, taking into account the background research throughout; the outcome of our performance was a success. The carefully thought out structure and attention to detail helped progress our space beyond our expectations. It didn’t only transform the space itself but transformed our attitudes to it. ‘The empty space encouraged the actors to see themselves not only as improvisers lending themselves to their inner impulses but as artists’3 . The transformation both physically within the library and mentally in us helped us create something with an imaginative, artistic flair.

We explored many ways to give the space a place of meaning. By exploring many routes and playing with our ideas we managed to develop our idea whilst integrating the historical aspects we wanted and keeping it creative and fun. ‘Exploration is a prerequisite for place-making; it is, I think, another form of play; conversely, play creates place’4 . The Key word in this is ‘play’ we had fun with the space and identified what worked and what didn’t. This is something that we will continue to do not just within a certain space, but with idea’s as it is a great was to develop and create something spectacular.

 

  1. Photo taken by Faye Bunclark, 2013 []
  2. Photo Taken By Rim Petros, 2013 []
  3. Peter Brook, 2008. Empty Space (Penguin Modern Classics). Edition. Penguin Books. P52 []
  4. Biggs, E. 2009, Everyone play: Sound, Public Space, and the (re)making of  place, Princeton University, P77 []
Posted: May 13th, 2013
Categories: Library, The Grain Escape
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The Performance Days

Day 1: Laying of the Books

This day consisted of us laying down the banned and censored books, to build a tower. As the library was our site, we needed to make sure that all the books that had been banned were registered at the library,  we decided to fill in between the banned books, with other books from the library. As there were less censored books, the image below shows the layout of the tower, we faced the spines of the banned books towards the window, so the audience were able to read them. It was a symbolic way to show the banned books, and I feel was very effective for the overall performance. At the end of the day, we lit the books up with a birdie light, which made it look like a piece of performance art, something that you would see at the museum.

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Day 2: Introducing Celia

This required the use of a mannequin, where we had been exploring the themes and topics of censored books on the body, to present the audience with something dehumanised to see if it is inappropriate. The audience were introduced to Celia  standing naked next to the banned books; this in itself was a powerful image, one that presented subtle imagery for the audience to think about. The same as day one, every half an hour, we would complete series of tasks on the mannequin which would create a gradual development, some of the tasks included, writing themes and topics onto the mannequins body, this was a very in depth notion that was portrayed from the banned books, not only could the audience see the banned books, but what is inside them shown in front of them on a body. However, on the day we repeated some tasks twice, with Vanessa and I rotating, this could have been thought about more, and performed something that may have developed day 2 intuitively.

Introduction to the Mannequin, Day 2 Performance, 2013, Lincoln Library, Photo Taken by Carmen Tyler

Introduction to the Mannequin, Day 2 Performance, 2013, Lincoln Library, Photo Taken by Carmen Tyler

Day 3: The introduction to Vanessa and Myself

This day was a success, however was an ambition with some of the tasks we chose to perform, some tasks were being received well, but may not had enough time to develop further, whereas some tasks need less time, this could have been something to change and consider if we were to do the final day again.

The imagery of the whole 3 days was presented well, the first window still had the tower of censored books lit, the mannequin next, then me and Vanessa in the last two windows.

The last day consisted of us performing a series of tasks, which developed the concept further, the task which I enjoyed and felt was well executed was being handcuffed to the banned books, this was such a strong image. Removing items of our clothing, and standing handcuffed in the window was very brave, had we been able to take more risks, we would have performed it in underwear to create more of a reaction to our concept. With some of the tasks we chose to do, standing in a window motionless for half an hour was very ambitious and if I had to go back I would have tried something else. It was tiring, and because we fasted and only drank water through the performance we were tired but pushing through to finish the performance and because of these risks we took, our concept was achieved.

 

Word Count: 557

Posted: May 13th, 2013
Categories: Do not read this, Library
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DO NOT READ THIS…..

Our concept is an investigation into the exploration of the validation of book censorship.  When books were first banned it was dated right back to the Nazi book burning in 1933, when Hitler destroyed the Jews right to freedom of speech.  Having these books back on the shelf allow schools to have the right  to an education.

This is because  books holds potential significance  to the structure of life; they form the basis for education, and carry valuable information on the past, which can teach us treasured material. When books are removed of a library shelf, the removal is based on the subjcts within the books, through my research into previous banned books; I found that there was a  link in the censored book.  The censored books  included strong explicit themes, and were all classed as too obscene, sexual and explicit.

banned-books

This photograph was taken by dharvey and posted on March 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm.

 “From every book, invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads, the whole panorama of the world’s life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting”

~Helen, E, Haines

Over the years one event that occurs, is Banned Books Week, which is an1. It is there to highlight the benefits of free and open access to information; however there is attention  to detail where the banning of the books are explored and identify how it can cause harm to the country and readers.

'Dont Let This Happen, Banned Books Week, 24.09.11

‘Dont Let This Happen, Banned Books Week, 24.09.11

censored books

Henry, Censored Books

The censored books, bring awareness to the2, some of the books were not banned but restricted, as they were considered ‘obscene’.

The banned books week, is there to3, and engaging the readers, and public’s attention to the danger that exists when4. This will come across through my performance, where it is aimed at examining the ideas and topics that are present within censored books, allowing us to explore, challenge and aim to discover the level of appropriateness.

The audience will be presented with the topics involved in the books, however when it becomes a visual image, does the level of appropriateness change when it is displayed on a mannequin.

 

Word Count: 492

Works Cited:

Haines, H, (1940), Living with Books: The art of book selection, United States of America: Columbia University Press

Books at Worlpress.com, Forbidden Books and Censorship, (Craig Nelson,    Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations) http://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/forbidden-books  (Accessed Online, 11.04.13, 14.35pm)

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read,  September 24 – October 1, 2011, from the American Library Association, http://avc.libguides.com/bannedbooks

 

  1. annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment []
  2. Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas []
  3. teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature []
  4. restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society []
Posted: May 13th, 2013
Categories: Do not read this, Library
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The Fucntion of The Library

My recent exploration led me to believe that1. Through acknowledging and utilising the particular nature of the library, I discovered that the site displays the functioning of language. It allows the public to have a deeper understanding of the nature of human culture, which is obvious from the library with the set of rules.

The Great Central Library

The Great Central Library, Lincoln, University Campus, 2013

The Library is defined2, some of these rules that the library uses, includes, swiping your card to enter, no eating or drinking on the 3rd floor and silent on the top floor. Being Silent is an exact rule, and if it is broken will result in the banning of the person from the library, due to not respecting the site and the public.

The library is a communal space, one which requires a certain order, the3, this could result in people acting a specific way, through their gestures.  Thus the public relationship to the space becomes a practice, where4, of the rules and orders that are involved with the space.

Having our performance in a public place allows us to change the way people perceive that space, it will look like something different and may5, this will open the opportunity for the public and the audience to force a self-conscious perception, where the viewer’s confront their own effort to locate the original place and the connection to the performance.

Auge argues that the audience are also the spectators, where their6, with people walking past the free-zone and looking into the window at our performance without recognition the individual can feel themselves to be a spectator, with slight observation, or by paying no particular attention at all.

Relating to the censored books, when they were first banned it was forbidden to have them exposed and visible on any library shelf. We as the public respected the choice made and followed the rules. However, by making it obvious and know to the public about the previous banned books it illustrates how we are challenging the rules of the site by  exposing the topics on a mannequin, and taking it further by exposing on human bodies.

This concept of challenging the censored books, comes from adapting the previous rules, and by displaying it to the audience challenging their perspectives and reactions, as when does it become unacceptable?

On day 1, with seeing all the banned books?

'Tower of Banned books', The Great Central Library, Lincoln, 2013, Photo by Carmen Tyler

‘Tower of Banned books’, The Great Central Library, Lincoln, 2013, Photo by Carmen Tyler

On day 2 when we display the concept on a mannequin?

'Celia' The Mannequin, The Great Central Library, Lincoln, 2013

‘Celia’ The Mannequin, The Great Central Library, Lincoln, 2013

Or on day 3 when 2 female bodies are exposed in a library window, taking the topics further?

Word Count: 496

Works Cited:

Collins, J, and Andrew Nisbet, (2010), Theatre and Performance Design. A reader in Scenography, Oxon: Routledge, p.104

Hays, M, (2000), Architecture Theory since 1968, United States of America: Massachusetts Institute

Kaye, N, (2000), Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation, Oxon: Routledge, p.4

Pearson, M, and Michael Shanks, (2001), Theatre/Archaeology, London: Routledge

  1. site specific work might even assert a ‘proper’ relationship with its location, claiming an original and fixed position []
  2. by its internal stability, ‘place’, like the langue, is an exclusive and self-regulating system of rules []
  3. space lays down the law because it implies a certain order- and hence also a certain disorder []
  4. the site-specific work tests the stability and limits []
  5. in turn, may reveal, make manifest, celebrate, confront or criticise site or location []
  6. gaze is subject to a deflection or reversal []
Posted: May 13th, 2013
Categories: Do not read this, Early Research, Library
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7. Goodbye performance art. It’s been…an experience.

I wasn’t going to do another blog but after I finished I found myself thinking about what I will take from this module and what it has taught me and realised that since I still had some room left in the word count I could type up my thoughts.

1)     Confidence.

This is something that I have discussed prior to this post so I won’t go into much detail. This module has helped me get over personal confidence issues. Something that I feel is actually relevant to performance art because it is all about personal development and experience. Like Marina Abramovic points out when discussing what performance art is to her, “You must confront your own fear” (2011, p.211)  as a lot of her work involves pushing her body to the limits, she goes on to say:

“If you’re afraid of pain, you have to find out what this pain is. When you open the door to pain, you’ll find out that you actually might be able to control it. You’ll be free from pain- which is a great feeling.” (Abramovic, 2011, p. 211)1

Using this analogy, my fear was speaking in public and by facing it I feel like I’m partly on the way to overcoming it.

2)     A new way of thinking.

When devising performances or directing scripted work, I’ve always had to consider staging, audience and intention.  The disciplines and practices I’ve learnt about in this module have allowed me to start thinking outside the box and are things that I will consider in the future when creating theatre.

This module has broadened my way of thinking and my understanding of the term ‘performance’. I have been opened up to the idea that performance is not just acting that takes place on a stage or in a studio. I feel like I can now appreciate performance art, and more importantly I can feel that I can now accept that it is an art form, it is simply “art that does not hang on the walls of galleries” (Abramovic, 2010)2

3)     An admiration for Marina Abramovic

I’m glad that this module required us watching ‘The Artist is Present’ because I am now completely fascinated by Marina Abramovic. I’d say something along the lines of “the way she suffers for her art is inspirational” but I can never see an element of suffering in what she does. Even in work that required her to physically harm herself and push her body to its limits, all I could see was a true passion and enthusiasm for what she creates. That is the inspiring thing.

To conclude my blog posts and this module, I am going to say that although I now understand performance art and can appreciate it artistically, I think I can safely say that it is not really for me and I don’t think I would involve myself in it again. I have enjoyed the experience on the whole though and I feel like I can transfer the knowledge I have gained from it into my future performances.

  1. Abramovic, M. (2010). Marina Abramovic on Performance Art. In: Biesenbach, K. P Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. 211. []
  2. Abramovic, M. (2010) Interview: Marina Abramovic. Interviewed by Sean O’Hagan [in person] Madrid, Sunday 3 October 2010. []
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