V i d e o & p e r f o r ma n c e. 2 0 1 5
Working in an interdisciplinary manner, this work is situated within and around discourses linked to site and time specificity, itinerary, embodiment, appropriation and location. This performance and video piece consists of two parts, both conceptualized and implemented while on a semester exchange at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, in 2015, towards the end of my B-Tech year of Study.
This guerrilla performance piece took place in Boston, outside if the Museum School of Fine Arts, in response to Jonathan Borofsky’s public artwork Walking man, 2000. Although Borofsky’s work is symbolic and archetypal in this context, his choice of using a white, heteronormative male, above a private parking lot, with public visibility, challenges intersectional discourses relating to privilege, class, race, gender and surveillance in the private and public sphere.
In the performance, my own body becomes a physical somatic representation of the social structures and behaviours that underlie societal constructs, encoded with layers of individual and collective empowerment. My intent for this piece is to bring light to some of the subconscious hierarchical power structures and symbols that permeate the urban-scape in which one occupies, primarily through the act of walking, seeing and occupying a public space in an unconventional manner.
This performance is closely linked to a Situationist method/ dérive technique of a transient passage through a specific ambient setting, which entails a playful and constructive action and a psychogeographical awareness, distinct from classical notions of the city stroll and journey (Lucas 2008:171). Lucas elaborates (2008:172):
“The Situationist drifting strategy is closely tied to their notion of psychogeography… [which] refers to an exploration of the hidden, non-physical connections between spaces, and the patterns of desire within a space… The theory of the dérive… the drift… [is an attempt] to create a ‘untitary urbanism’ based upon a [projected] future in which humanity would be… free to play and occupy a space however and whenever they desired.”
Reference: Lucas, R. 2008. Taking a line for a walk’: Walking as an aesthetic practice in Ways of Walking. Ethnography and Practice on Foot edited by Ingold, T & Vergunst, J,L England: Ashgate Publishing Limited: 171-184.
Stills from performance
Synonomous to my time abroad the #feesmustfall student protests flooded the streets of Campus’s around South Africa, the breakwater could no longer hold. Along with my social media feeds, this flood became a source of personal inspiration conflated with an overwhelming sense of disconnect and inner turmoil, knowing I could not physically be there walking for a cause which directly affected me, as a South African, human being, a student.
In lieu of my extended stay in Boston and inability to physically inhabit two places at once, the Internet became a means whereby I could stay connected to the unfolding events of the student protests. This compelled me to add to the conversation through the collaborators of Part 2.
Part 2: [In] lieu [of] passive and active embodiment. 23.10.15. Location: 25.746257, 28.209042. Duration: 2:08:00.
By juxtaposing footage from one of the protests (filmed by Katherine V Robinson) with the Part 1 footage, played backwards, my intent is to create a tension between the absurdity and passivity of my performance in relation to the energetic embodiment of the protestors. It is important to note that the red t-shirt and blue jeans are in no way associated with a specific political party but rather a poetic visual connection between myself and the protestors, an extended metaphor for a community with which I walk and stand with.
These tensions are subtly woven into the visual language of the video piece and hopefully challenge one’s understanding of autonomy, active and passive embodiment associated with private and public realms of safety and surveillance, which led to forceful displacement by security and police, in the case of the protests.
Stills from Video