Today, I became part of the exhibition in my piece:
'the art of being a human being'
Photo Kindly by Paula Savory
Ron Savory supported by his wife Paula, work tirelessly to push the perceived boundaries of The Arts and bring together the local Arts Community across genres.
Ron's new project The Toolbox Rhymes held a 2 day Exhibition at Creative Bubble in Swansea called Open ... all ours'
I spoke to him about bringing an experiment that I wanted to do in preparation for my Final MA Drama piece at The Atrium, Cardiff, later this year, informed by the work of Marina Abramovic
How would it be if I removed all of the performance elements of my usual performance and focussed on being present with each person who sat with me, responding to them in that moment?
Once the person had left, I switched off my head, almost not knowing what I was writing, just letting my inner self be poetic. These would be my notes to myself to use when I went back to the work, informing my Major Production for my MA Drama final in August/September
I was booked for 25 minutes.
I found myself in the first 5 or 10 minutes in between interactions wondering how long I had been there. I realised that my mind was drifting to time, taking me out of the present. I had purposely not worn a watch to distract from thinking of time, but still I wondered.
I focussed completely on now.
When I finished it transpired that in fact I had been present for an hour.
Fellow MA Drama student, my friend, Artist, Writer and Director Denis Lennon monitored reactions for me, took photo's for my portfolio It was so very beautiful. I felt his pride, his love and I don't think I could have done it without his support.
Above photo kindly by Paula Savory
The reactions from people were so very interesting
'Is she a psychic?'
'I feel like she was reading my mind'
'Is it a staring game?'
'Is she allowed to move'
'It's so powerful.'
'It's very emotional'
'I could really feel her'
'It's like she was inside my head'
3 teenage lads stopped to look. They were laughing and goading each other, but they were intrigued.
One of them sat with me.
Within seconds his whole body language changed.
This is so interesting to me because I work with young people funded to 'engage' them and the perception is that we need to offer things to them to see what they would like, but here was I, sat in the exhibition window, and this young lad took time out of his life to sit and connect. He smiled and when I smiled back he said, 'I knew I could make her smile.' and then left. I smiled because he did.
So, what preparation did I do?
Having watched hours of youtube clips from Marina, I decided not to eat the day before or the day of the performance. She suggests much longer, but I decided 2 days. I understand why. I switched off from thinking about food. I am certain that this did help me to focus.
I practised sat at home in front of a full length mirror sitting for half an hour being present with myself and then without the mirror, having no need to see myself to get the same sense of whole.
What should I wear?
At first I thought I should wear a long red dress like Marina's. I trawled ebay putting bids in to no avail. So, then I started to look around second shops and lo, I found the perfect dress. But was it? Id the purpose was for ME to BE why would I dress as someone else. I did not buy the dress. Instead, I decided that I would look for my 'best' dress in my wardrobe. Marina had the best dress for her, and I would wear the best dress for me.
Then I needed to consider what to take.
I decided to call the piece 'the art of being a human being' as opposed to a human doing. I bought some very lovely card to put it on. But then I saw my paint pallet on my craft table. I always use cardboard as it's a cool way to recycle. How apt! I would stick the title onto the back of my pallet.
I placed next to me a bag from The Arts Council of Wales with a quote from Dic Jones in Welsh which translated means:
'Who has art has all'
'A feddo gelf a fydd gwar'
I wanted a bi-lingual aspect to the presentation. I think it is very important to include welsh language although I do not speak it.
I also decided that because this was essentially research and development for my MA, I needed to make immediate notes to recall for later.
I have been working for my current MA piece RP2 looking at Ethnographic poetry and re-read Frances Rapport's work only last night. I decided to write poetic thoughts just as they came into my head. Not to think about them, as such, but to let them just flow from the pen. I didn't even know what I was writing to be honest, not until afterwards. This I felt, would capture and essence of the moment.
I took this writing book because it has the word write on it, almost like a command. This is the kind of command an audience gives while they wait for the performers to 'perform'. I thought it had an irony about it.
I could feel myself replying to the book ...
yes, I will thank you, when it is right to do so..
And this what came out ...
What if the art of
Being an Artist
Is the Art of being
A human being
A human, being?
We are, we be
Waiting for the Artist
To DO something
We are humans
on the same planet
We are so consumed with doing
That we fail to
Can you see inside me
As I see inside you?
Am I a being too?
The first poem below was written after a woman had sat with me for a short time and had spoken the entire time. She had been very nervous about sitting but obviously wanted to. She had sunglasses on, took them off and was quite uncomfortable.
'This is wierd' she said.
I could sense her body language through the glass window.
She kept asking me questions. I answered her.
'I must rush now,' she said, 'Thank you very much.'
You need to talk to me
To fill the space
This weird space
Cram it, filled
The second poem, I scribbled after Paula & Ron's little daughter, probably about 6 or 7 years old, had finally plucked up the courage to come over.
She had been watching me from the bus stop seat.
It was such a beautiful connection. I mouthed the words to her that she was very beautiful. I felt it so strongly in my heart. Not just to look at but her soul and it dawned on me how children are so much more open to simply being.
When the interaction ended and she left, I noticed I had tears running down my cheeks .
Photo kindly by Paula Savory
the innocent child
the beautiful child
the open child
the smiling child
i grieve, in this moment
that you never came to me
in these eyes
you were with me
you are present with me now
through these eyes
for this emotion
i thank you
Ron tapped his watch. I came to the front of the Gallery and read the poetry I had written, seeing it for the first time. I had been in the Gallery window for an hour. I felt so emotional. I wanted to cry.
Ron said it was extraordinarily powerful and more than he had imagined. He said they have had bands and poets and all manner of things happening in the Gallery window and people have walked past smiling, but in this quiet stillness of presence, the general public had been compelled to stop and look and sit.
Tonight there will be the humans who were looking out of their office windows across the street, humans who passed in their cars, the humans that got off the bus and peered in, the humans who sat with me, the humans who made it so ... questioning themselves about the woman in the Gallery window. Maybe they will talk to other humans about it. Such is the nature of Art.