How this work is presented
While walking on the busiest shopping street through the city, I, as the performer who carries out the performing act, write a poem by plain water with a painting roller. The poem is written letter by letter on the brickstones. The performance is timed for one hour, therefore how much time that I spent on painting each letter, and the length of the poem are carefully planned.
Due to the heat or rain, the painted letters cannot stay on the ground long, as the water is constantly evaporating or suddenly flushing away by rain. Passersby en- counter this performance suddenly on the street while shopping. Some visitors asked me what is then the purpose of painting the poem if the letters are disappear- ing so quickly, even before a whole sentence is finished. Here is my answer to them: this is not a work to introduce you read a poem in a special way, but to let you experience and be aware of ‘time’ through reading a poem.
The title of this work is It is moving on / It is vanishing, in the following paragraphs, I will shorten it by only mentioning Moving on / Vanishing.
Image 01 / 02
Left: the poem written for Popup Festival 2018 Ede
Right: the poem written for Kunsten op Straat 2018 Hardenberg
The texts are seen as one of the meidium to guide audience into the work. Passersby stop on the street in order to either understand the texts or observe what is painted on the street.
Compared to other forms of literature, one special character of a poem is the importance of leaving space for readers’ own interpretation. In my opinion, the action of filling own interpretations is similar to when seeing a performance.
Composition of a performing artwork
Image 03. The Quadrant
Part of my own artistic research work Khôra (2016)
Space, performer and time are three fundamental elements in a performing artwork. In 2016, I developed an analytical tool for understanding better the structure of performing artworks (see image 03).
Four crucial elements are discussed here in this quadrant, i.e. Real / Fictive time (X-axis), Human / Non-human performer (Y-axis).
In the following pages, I will decompose and analyse the work Moving on / Vanishing through discussing the fundamental structure of performing artwork: time, performer and space.
Water is disappearing.
The Bricks, the Sun, the Wind and/or the Rain also take a part
Disappearing of the performer: water
The water is evaporating slowly. The performance, i.e. the presence of the letters is also slowly disappearing.
Apart from the human performer, me as the painter, there are few other important elements in this work.
The Bricks absorb the Water which leaves the trace making the poem become visible. However, some natural elements: the Sun, the Wind and/or the Rain is present at the same time. Those letters will be eventu- ally dried out or flushed away. This ‘disapearing’ of the letters can sometimes take only a few seconds, but it can also take much more longer. Being part of the per- formance as a human performer, I cannot really involve with it.
The ones that partake
Image 05 / 06
Where are they looking at/ towards?
The interesting thing about performance happens on street/public space is that NOT EVERYONE is interested in taking the role as a spectator.
What am I trying to find out here is how a performative place is defined. Through analysing the work Moving on / Vanishing, I list down a few crucial elements:
- Human and non-human performers
- Spectators’ sights
- A three dimensional space
- An event with start and end
- A story, a message or an idea to be conveyed
Performative place is fluid
Image 07 / 08
A performative place is not fixed
When the performer(s) does not carry out the performance anymore, the performative place is then disappeared. In this work Moving on / Vanishing, the performative place is re-defined constantly, along with the movement of painting the poem on the street.
A performative place is formed within a space and it will eventually come to an end. It is the same as a theatre play on the stage, when the curtain is down there is no more performance anymore, the space will return back to a stage from the fictional theatrical space.
Someone / Something enters the place!
Different from a performance happens on a conventional staging setup, the performance happens on the street will encounter many unpredictable situations. In the Image 07, there is a little boy entering the place. Did he do this intentionally, because he wanted to be part of the performance? Did he not see the place as a performative place, just a normal public space, a street? Or did he even involve with another performance which I wasn’t / am not aware of at all?
The entering of intruders brings up a question here, do they cause any change of the performative place? This question needs to be examine by further projects.
There are still more factors influencing the defining of a performative place
So far I take this one specific performing work Moving on / Vanishing as starting point to discuss what can be the formation of a performative place within public space. However in this work, there is still an actor (i.e. me) carrying out a performing act and therefore the performative place is created. How to create a performative experience for public without the presence of a human per- former? When multiple performative places are partly overlapping with each other, will that change the whole performative experience? Is it possible to visualise the ‘shape’ of the performative place in any type of method? These are questions are waiting to be responded…