We all know I have been shouting about my increasing disillusionment with contemporary performance practices, hence my drive to return and subvert a more traditional form of theatre. Well, I am not afraid to admit that I may have been slightly pre-emptive in my total dismissal of contemporary work; in fact I have had my head up my arse about this for years now!
In an attempt to offer a different viewpoint on the potential of this type of work I want to tell you about my experience of a truly inspiring artist, although I cannot guarantee I will do her work justice.
On the 25th May 2011 hidden amongst the bland row of converted office spaces down a cobbled urban street in Leeds a group of artists, theatre makers and networkers came together to talk about contemporary performance. A fantastic evening of awkward introductions and beers sold form buckets behind a make-shift bar people talked and smoked and talked and drunk and eventually people drifted home, hopefully with some sense of connection to other struggling artists and a head full of new connections and other with stories shared between old friends.
As the evening drew to a close and only a few of us remained, a quiet young artist removed her excess clothes and paced around an empty space in her black lycra outfit that was reminiscent of some old avant-garde pomp, I cringed and huffed as she began to perform sharp extracts of well preannounced tales – full of crows and lions and other such educated metaphorical allegories. But as my mind started to feel increasingly disconnected (once again) from a discipline I once loved so much, I was suddenly confronted with an explosion of what can only be explained as pure presence, it was like the doorway to another reality was kicked open and all at once the room was filled with shots of base tribal noises and sharp tales of intimate encounters. The words crashed out of this moving body and you literally could not turn away, you were in it for the duration, for better or worse, in it for the pure thrill of watching someone let their art completely consume their body and spit out fragments of true experience in your face. The intensity of watching the skill of this performer literally transcend the space into a mesmerising battle of conflicting conversations and interactions, I cannot explain the story nor would it serve your purpose to hear my interpretation, suffice to say that what I experienced in that room brought my nostalgia for 60s and 70s performance art to life. More than this though, it was real, live and wonderfully bizarre!
You do not need to understand the linage of performance art to experience the intense devotion Carrieanne Vivianette presents in her work, the beauty and power of her improvisation is something you should watch out for in coming years.
I am very humbled to have seen her perform in the developmental stages of her work and if you ever should get the chance to see her live, do it and do it with an open mind.
This piece was a fantastic example of contemporary work that should be exposed to public criticism, too often is this type of work relegated to the lofty halls of the academy; it is time to come out of the ivory towers and talk with real people about this technically magnificent work. It is time to let artists like Carrieanne Vivianette loose on the world and to trust in the public to engage in a serious dialogue about it. I am the worst critic of this discipline and I believe that in the right location and with the right publicity, this work (and others like it) could help to re-address the widening field between the public and contemporary performance.
For those of you who know me and those of you who don’t I hope that you take my honest account of this work into serious consideration, I can only hope that my account can help you think of your own misconceptions and perhaps open your eyes to a different way of appreciating the value of this work.
That’s all folks :O)