listening and being thoughts


my exhibition is open at bus now and i’ve done two small performances there. and i feel OK about it so far.

after opening night and a two-hour intense performance amongst a packed room full of artists and art-lovin’ hipster-types i felt fantastic! i thought the work looked good and conveyed something of what i’m trying to say about the place of listening in public.

and then in the few days since, and after a second performance on friday – a four-hour durational task cut short due to pain and logistics – there’s been the ubiquitous doubt creeping in around the edges. it’s so boring –  the nagging question about whether the work says what you want, and the discovery that sometimes it says things you don’t want it to.

but, here are some of the little surprises, ideas and snippets of something-or-other that have been raised in the long hours of listening to my own dialogue, some of which might be interesting to you guys. and, if you’ve seen the show, i’d love to get your feedback.

things about listening i considered
what am i really listening to?
am i thinking things in order to have something to listen to?
listening to oneself is a frightening concept for many. under the guise of “not understanding”, many people are afraid of what the work asks them to do.

things about being i considered
if i wasn’t here, at this time, doing this work, could i exist?
being didactic and direct does not necessarily achieve understanding. and neither does being loose and aloof. can art ever purport to give understanding?
is listening the action between the nothing and being?

things about art and performance i have since considered

1. tino sehgal makes work in which movement and energy (including singing/sound) changes the dynamic of a space when a person enters it, creating a situation.
i noticed that when i am sitting and listening in the space, and someone enters the space, a situation is similarly created, in a subtracted way: stillness and the sound being absorbed by me changes the dynamic and the nature of the space and their relationship to it.

invariably people quieten themselves and become aware of their own sounds.

2. a lovely elderly painter came into the gallery the other day and whilst the work reminded him of happenings from 40 years ago, his criticism was that the work was too reliant on text. we discussed the lack of imagination in audience and the academic nature of art. and he suggested that artists who were doing those happenings in sydney all those years ago, were doing them because they found it the best form of expression.

i took it to mean that i am not performing these works because it’s the only way to express what needs to be said, but that i’m doing it this way because i’m responding to written work. ouch.
i can see his perspective, but i have to say it was nice, at midnight last night, sitting up in the bath and saying out loud ‘no, fuck you, listening IS the only way to talk about listening. and text ISN’T a substitute – it’s just the next best thing.

listening and being 24th june

i’ve posted the list of what i heard (recall only, not direct transcription) on the listening to the city blog, which i have started updating. i’ll upload some pics there too.

on tuesday 28th june, i’ll be doing an 8-hour performance at the gallery, between 7am and 3pm. if you’re in melbourne, you’re welcome to come and join in.  i’m also going to be setting up a video stream so that you can ‘come in’ to the gallery, even if you’re not physically there.

it will probably via skype and ustream.

keep an eye out and i’ll be spamming the networks on monday with the links.

sarah barber
jared harris

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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