Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Taking the Library Outside

After sitting down with my group, I had come to the final decision of taking the library outside. I initially thought of looking for negative spaces within the library, such as, the aisles, under the stairs and the group rooms. I then looked at artist that also search for negative space, I then found work by Rachel Whiteread.

‘Artist Rachel Whiteread‘s sculptures bring to the foreground a concept of space we aren’t always aware of. Working to take negative space and make it a tangible reality, Whiteread uses her sculptures in order to physically define what surrounds objects. Through these sculptures, Whiteread explores ideas of absence, memory, and architecture, revealing the space we cannot define.’ (Chadason 2012)

I then thought about outside of the library and how it could be considered a performance space. Peter Brooks says ‘I can take any empty space and call it bare stage‘ (Govan, Nicholson and Normion 2007, p. 10), from this I thought that we as a group could use the space outside the library and use it as a performance space. I also researched the ways in which a space, place or build had effect on its visitors. Falling in a certain behaviour given the type of place it is, such as, “places” that are rich in history and “non-places”  that are soulless and are only created for functional purposes, such as, airports, motorways and the library in this case. For instance, the idea that some places are distinguished and understood as a place where specific behaviours are suitable.

‘According to one of the pioneers of such research, Rodger Bakrer, a behaviour setting is a bounded space that is constructed and defined through two sets of components, ‘psychological’ and ‘non-psychological’’.(Holloway & Hubbard, 2001 p. 56)

We then look at the building as one big system and people becoming a part of that system.

  • We go for look for books.
  • Take the book out.
  • Reading the book in library or take it home.
  • Finally returning the book.

From this we wanted to toy with the idea of breaking that system. Together we first decided to take the books outside the library and read them, but this seemed too distant from our ideas and wouldn’t attract the attention of the public in the way that we wanted to. We continued to develop and research this idea and began to look at the books and what we could do with them to create a piece of performance art. I thought about the library and that words are a massive part of it. I started to think what was done to the words within the library, well they can be spoken, read in one’s head to oneself and mostly written and used for academic purposes. Thinking about the words being spoken and the language within those books, I then thought about the language and conversations outside of the library and more than often enough how that can be broken and crumble. After deciding to focus on language, we looked at books within the library that had language in the title. This opened a lot of thoughts and ideas.

  • Foreign language
  • Sign language
  • Breakdown of language.

After finalising our idea of looking at language we met with our tutor and discussed our new idea. We then showed him the list of call numbers and titles of the books we were thinking of looking at, he then suggested that we should keep our first performance simple and maybe just read the list off the paper outside the library doors. Once the list was finished our tutor said that there was something quite aesthetically pleasing about how it looked and reads.

Our next step in the process was to actually get the performance up on its feet. I volunteered to be the person that reads the list. For this we took a stool from the library and placed it in front of the library doors. We initially wanted to use a megaphone for the piece, but due to the lack of time to source one we use and microphone and an amp, which actually worked better than what we thought it would .


Taken by Beth Sutch, Thursday 7th March 2013, Lincoln Library.

For the actual performance I stood on the stool holding the list. I then began to read from the list whilst a small audience from the class stood and watched. A few people that passed by stop for a moment to see what was being said. I even noticed that when I was reading, people that were passing we reluctant to walk in front of me and actually walk around the back of me. The performance only lasted for about 2-3 minutes as we only wanted to experiment with the idea and to see if it actually looked work as a piece.


Taken by Hannah Louise Watson, Thursday 7th March 2013, Lincoln Library.

Our next step is to develop and shape the piece to fit with the idea of language breaking down. The feedback we got from the performance was to look at different ways in which we can show this. We have come up with a few ideas that can occur in day-to-day conversations such as:

  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Breaking into song
  • Long pauses.
  • Stutter.

After developing our ideas further and researching the work of artist that we can relate to with our piece at the moment, we are looking to putting all of this together for the next performance and see what can be added, changed and developed from that.


Chadason, Kathryn (2012) (Accessed: 10.05.12).

Govan, Emma and Nicholson, Helen and Normington, Katie (2007) Making a Performance: The place of the Artist, USA and Canada: Routledge.

Holloway, Lewis and Hubbard, Phil (2001) People and Place The Extraordinary Geographies of Everyday Life: Behaviour in Place, Harlow: Prentice Hall/Pearson Education.

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