• Catching Up

    I was going to do another footnote but I thought that as I’ve done that before about a broken foot I think it would be more appropriate to add a header to this blog. That’s because last week I had two (minor) head injuries in one week. I’m ok though. On the Monday I was stationary at a roundabout when the car behind drove into me at about 30 mph. I hit my head on the head rest and got minor whiplash. Oof. My car has been written off. Then on the Sunday my husband dropped a lighting pelmet on my head. He didn’t do it on purpose, I just made the mistake of fiddling around underneath it when he was taking it off the top of our bookcase. I heard him swear then felt it hitting my head. Oof. That hurt. I weighed the lighting pelmet: 1.5 stone that fell just over a metre onto my head. Since these incidences I’ve had an odd feeling, almost as if my soul (whatever that is) has been shaken out of my body and is struggling to get back in. I’ve felt fragile, emotional, detached and a bit wonky. I got myself checked out though and everything is fine, but it has made me think about the relationship between the mind and the body and how one reacts when the other is placed under stress.

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Thinking is a large part of an artist’s job and it is very difficult to do (for me anyway). Part of this is finding the time within hectic schedules, daily routines and chores and doing work that actually pays the bills, to do any thinking at all, let alone thinking that has any substance to it. Another reason it is so hard to think is that sometimes the need to think creatively is perhaps the quickest way to crush any shred of creativity that you may have had lurking around somewhere. And of course the need to justify yourself also makes it difficult. It’s fairly unsatisfying to answer the question “what did you do today?” by saying “oh, I’ve been thinking.” Because it normally doesn’t look like you’ve been thinking. But at other times, when you are least expecting it, you’ll find yourself thinking a real nugget of a thought. Or you might not even have realised you’ve been thinking, but when you come to write something down there is a clarity or an understanding that you didn’t realise you had. Lovely.

    Lately my thinking has meant that the inside of my head resembles a picture of Mr Messy. There’s something there but I’ve been trying to find the end for ages, trying to recognise patterns and shapes within the jumble of thoughts.

    This is where I’m at:

    I’ve been thinking about a performance.

    A performance about endurance. It will last for one hour, but I’ll repeat it continuously 26.2 times (because it’s about endurance of course). It will contain information from 26 marathons in 26 days, such as:

    scientific data and results (pacing, heart rate, perceived rate of exertion, emotions and intensity of emotions during exercise, nutritional information)

    Personal recollections (my own and those of others - let me know if you have any you’d like included)

    Documentation (photographs, maps and videos)

    It will also contain:

    sculpture

    installation

    stories

    a treadmill

    a typewriter

    cups of tea

    I’ll talk about endurance, but the audience will also get to see the effects of endurance throughout the performance itself. And for people unable to attend (or not keen to come along at 2am and see how it’s going), they’ll be able to watch live via a webcam and make comments that will be displayed within the performance space via a live twitter/facebook feed.

    The performance space will be a place of fresh discovery, a chance to interrogate and stimulate debate about how the body reacts to stress over an extended period of time; an opportunity to examine notions of fear, motivation, commitment, repetition, participation, compassion, endeavour and endurance within a performance setting.

    The performance will be accompanied by a publication that will be sculptural in nature. It will follow roughly the same plan as the performance but it will be framed on the page rather than on the stage. It will be beautiful.

    Part of my thinking was done in Glasgow. I went at the start of March to hear a paper delivered by Dr Andrew Filmer from Aberystwyth University. The paper was called “The Performance of Running: On the Move”. Dr Filmer has been thinking a lot too, about such things as: where do you place an audience in a performance of running? The biomechanics of running (periods of flight, the storing and release of energy, the need to control and absorb); the move away from results based running to experiential running; the quotidian nature of running; the body at the forefront; space, place, location and spectatorship. That’s a lot of thinking. I made a lot of notes and then returned to my hotel to scribble furiously for some time. Hearing someone else’s thoughts on running excited me, helping me to locate gaps within, and consolidate my own thinking. And of course whilst in Glasgow I ate Haggis and Cloutie dumpling and went for a run. The run was invigorating and I felt energised as I ran and turned corners to find hills, steps, changes in architecture, environment, people, pavements, traffic, atmosphere. I relished the feeling of adventure as I explored the city, enjoying those moments of flight, feeling alive and untethered.

    I know I have more thinking to do. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all, especially when I look at the list of things the performance and the publication is examining (and I’ve left some off the list). I feel as if I should simplify it and look at less, but they are all there and therefore open to debate, dissection, examination. Trying to do too much?! Isn't that part of it?

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This blog is about my thoughts, my practice, my incessant ramblings and so on and so forth.

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