was it successful?

so, the listening and being exhibition is over and to be honest, i don’t really know how to assess it. which has prompted some interesting thoughts about how to value performative/experiential works.

so, how do i know if my work was successful?

i haven’t come from a performance or even a contemporary art background, so a lot of what i’m learning through my arts practice is having to stretch over from tradition image-making and art-historical language. which, naturally, doesn’t quite fit.

old-fashioned parameters of quality mostly include sales, or publishing. people’s opinions matter too, but seeing as i was hardly available to to hear them, it’s hard to say. and i haven’t put in place a formal process for getting feedback by my peers yet (more on that later).

added to that, during an exhibition, as the work gets realised, and i spent time with it, the goalposts shifted slightly. i think i would have initially felt the work successful had people interacted with it, and a few of the catalogues had been taken.

but once i decided to perform the work myself, i realised that i also wanted to research more deeply the nature of listening reflectively and that set up new parameters. and then as i listened, i thought about the work even more, and built in even more ways in which the work could be meaningful and they added another layer of ‘is it working’-ness to it.

so now i’m properly confused 🙂

in short, i think the work worked.

and yet it still has some life in it yet – as an object, as an ‘instrument’, as a set for more performances, and as a means of greater research. i think this might be what’s called ‘setting the bar higher’.

and i think this self-critical process is also good and perhaps a mark of my own maturing –  years ago i would have been crippled by the ‘not enough-ness’ of it all and not coped with the greyness of achieving success.

in fact, years ago, i’m pretty sure i just would have wanted you to like it and leave it at that.
how depressing.

now i think the greatest disappointment for an artist is to have completed everything that she wanted to say.


feedback etc.
all of these thoughts and some of these questions have actually fuelled a desire to create a better format for feedback for my work. and perhaps for others like it.

i’ve had the pleasure of being part of the feedback, etc group that has started up in perth and i really missed it when i was in melbourne. and, i became aware that the clubs model it uses works best for static, gallery-based, exhibitions that can be observed and discussed easily in real-time. this is not so easy for works like listening and being, or even the how to do things with words event from last month.

so, tomorrow night i’m going to head up a discussion about developing a model for feedback on work of this kind. we’ll start to unpack what we consider ‘meaningful’ for an audience, and what our own parameters are. and even ask where performative work really resides – is it in real-time, or is it in our memories?

and if any of you guys have any ideas, please, chuck them in the comment section:

how to you assess the success of an experiential or performative work – especially if you were not there at the time?

i’ll post the results here (and probably cross-post on the feedback, etc site too.)

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

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