You must change your life.

While working on a flyer for some upcoming performances, Jonathan Baxter introduced me to these two poems by Rainer Maria Rilke

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

The story is that while Rilke was working for Rodin, the sculptor gave him assignments to go to the zoo and look and to go to the Louvre and write about something he saw. These poems resulted from his encounters.

Since I was introduced to these words they have circled in my mind like a panther pacing a cage; the resonance goes beyond my interest in the subject matter. What strikes me most is the power of these encounters, the caged animal and work of art, each experience has the power to change you, each insists that you must change. Perhaps I must.

performingNOW! at GENERATORprojects

The Hunt

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A hunting horn sounds. A mournful tone. The slow considered stalking of the prey, prey that lays already motionless, dead on the ground.

A gun

A bow

A knife

A cut

A mark

Anointing sweating brow. A raised heart beat. A rite of passage from the distant past. But now the urgency has gone, the necessity has faded with time.

This age old narrative, played out has become a myth, a fairytale. No longer fact, no longer vital, no longer real. Ornamental blood is spilled. Romancing an idea, a misty eyed perspective.

This is a strange hunter. One who announces its presence, one confident of its absolute power. One who delights in a dance, in a ritual, in a role, playing and toying; this is not about survival this is about dominance.

This performance was part of performingNOW! at GENERATORprojects May 4th 2013.

Consider a Bard

For Burns night 2013 artist Morgan Cahn and I performed at the Hospitalfield’s Burns Supper.

Hospitalfield House in Arbroath facilitates and hosts artists, writers and other creatives working within contemporary art and design, providing residencies, art courses and education programmes to promote the cultural ecology of Scotland. The Burns Supper, organised by artist Jacqueline Donachie, brought together artists from all over Scotland and people from Arbroath in celebration of Scotland’s favourite bard.

Our performances for the evening were inspired by our personal experience of Robert Burns. Morgan, having spent her life in Pittsburgh, had never encountered Burns, while I had come across him during high school english lessons spent dissecting poetry.

The performance was therefore entitled:

An English Woman, an American and a Scotsman: Consider a Bard.

I played the part of the English Woman, Morgan played the American and the part of the Scotsman was played by Burns, the Haggis and the audience at various points of the evening.

The English Woman – dressed in black as a mourner with a surgical mask and latex gloves, I engaged in a process of dissecting and reconfiguring Burns’ poems. Through repeatedly writing a chosen line, then overwriting it with another then another from each poem, I created condensed poems with new meanings.

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Following the process I ended up with two lines:

Lament the mourning Mailie’s dead

Wee, sleekit, broken schemes o’ mice an’ fear

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The American – Morgan spent the evening researching Burns through books, poems and conversation with the guests. She took notes and did drawings as she learnt and encountered the spectacle of the Burns Supper.

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She also tweeted about the evenings events and her findings @performingnow

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The Scotsman – played at various points by the Haggis, the speakers, the poems, the guests and Burns himself. This role was filled by whatever/whoever was the subject of our consideration at any given time over the evening.

The Story Collector

I am currently in Orkney where I will be conducting an art project looking at how storytelling affects our relationships with the lanscapes we live in and the creatures that we share them with. Throughout my visit I will be posting about my experiences and the stories I find.

More information about the project and the posts relating to it can be found under The Story Collector section on the menu above.

Performing Worlds

So Performing Worlds will be kicking off in style this Saturday and with just under a week to go final preparations are happening throughout the city…

What I’ve seen of the exhibition install at the Hannah Maclure Centre is looking great and the programme is now out and about around the city (pick one up from various locations including Camperdown Wildlife Park and the Central Library)

I am putting the finishing touches to my work and finalising plans for my performance at Camperdown Wildlife Park on Monday 11th.

I will also be tweeting live about the schedule and events throughout the week so follow @performingnow to be kept up to date.

Tonight the Performance Platform will be devising the Times Rope performance which will be the first event of the week on Saturday.

It’s going to be an exciting week jam-packed with performances, talks, lunches and more so spread the…

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One Sunny Sunday

The glorious weather is tempting me towards lazy days reading on the green however June is almost upon us and I still have plenty to do…

The Performing Worlds event will begin on the 9th June and will continue in various locations throughout Dundee until the 15th (visit http://www.d-air.org/performing-worlds for the full programme). I will be embodying various animal personas during the week and will have a couple of situated performances as well.

The first of these performances will take place at the Camperdown Wildlife Park on Monday 11th and will present the human animal in its destructive capacity, as the most dangerous animal on display at the zoo.  The second of which will take place on Friday 15th in the City Square and will be an enquiry into Dundee’s relationships with animals. I will post further details soon so watch this space…

One Wet Wednesday

Last Wednesday I ran a performance workshop for the D-AiR Performance Platform assisted by the lovely and exuberant Morgan Cahn. Despite the drizzly weather we boldly left the HMC and took to the streets to explore our relationships to the city and one another.

This workshop was intended to allow the participants to explore the familiar city and how they inhabit it in a new and bodily way; hopefully raising questions and bringing new insight into how we dwell in the city in our everyday lives. It also explored the way we relate to other beings in the city and what it means to share space.

I was please to receive a lot of positive feedback from the group, who all seemed to enjoy themselves and who hopefully got something out of the exercise.  I was extremely moved by how everyone seemed to really commit to the scenarios I proposed. I know from attending workshops in public spaces myself that it can be a little daunting to step outside the realm of ‘acceptable’ behaviour especially when there are passers by who bear witness to your actions but I was glad that no one participating felt they had been pushed too far.

Here are just some of the images captured of the workshop.

Buzzcut (busy busy)

Yet another busy week this week, organising and setting up for the next few months work…

Last weeks performance events went great!

In the Absence of… was a huge success. Having spent the day at a workshop run by Richard Layzell we were all really ready and warmed up and I think it showed. Sylvia Law performed a stunningly simple resonance piece in which she sang through a hollow wall to someone on the other side. Both pressed into the corners facing the wall, the result was a beautiful and powerful one to one experience. I performed my piece Felis Felix (Happy Cat) which I will describe in a later post, which I think went down well.

Saturday night was Crawl Inclusive an art crawl around Dundee. I was part of the For Sale performance which consisted of a manic estate agent showing the house to visitors who were confronted by strange scenes in each room, a girl staring into a fridge full of milk cartons, a cat stroking a humans hair and feeding them cat shit from a litter tray, a girl in a bath peeling potatoes and fish with a razor and a half-dressed man ‘masturbating’ a tube of mascara. This was just one of many great performances on the night (most of which I unfortunately missed).

This weekend is also busy busy… The opening of the RSA:New Contemporaries exhibition is tomorrow night in Edinburgh, then Sunday is the screening of the Dundee Performance Collective’s collaborative video piece with Bbeyond at the Buzzcut festival in Glasgow.

I will be back with more next week…