Magazine article Art Monthly

National Review of Live Art

Magazine article Art Monthly

National Review of Live Art

Article excerpt

National Review of Live Art Tramway Glasgow February 7 to 11

This year, newly housed in the Tramway, Glasgow, the National Review of Live Art presented over 50 works from newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. The selection emphasised low-tech, object-based performances and the artists showcased represented a wide spectrum of performative concerns, including transformation. This was evident in the work of Black Market International, who pathologised the entire contents of their work--sawdust, bamboo canes, bells, bedside lamps, x-rays, a greenhouse, tables, bottles of beer, clipboard and loudspeaker, a rusted car, ribbon, etc. The eleven-strong group unfolded their wares over a period of five days and proceeded to create an environment that encompassed an engaged audience. The host practitioners and the audience, who were sometimes interchangeable, moved in, out and around the work defining moments of boredom, neutrality, encounter, creation and imminent or suggested violence. The visual manifestations of what brewed atmospherically were startling: Esther Ferrer winding wool and joining in with an incidental recording of 'Ave Maria', Alastair MacLennan in a tux blowing bubbles on his back like a drowning man, while being drawn around with white chalk by Elvira Santamaria--the repeated outlines transforming forensic tracing into a diagram of a mystic energy field. These images seethed with relevance to specific and irreplacable moments--mnemonic tracings of art-historical presences, such as the Viennese Actionists, and references to contemporary cultural issues: for example, the detritus of war and natural disaster. By operating a system of cultural and performative motifs, kindling imagery that transformed one into the other, Black Market reiterated the lack of boundaries between practitioner and 'audience', everyday performance and performative art.

Jamais Vu, 2007, by Anne Seagrave was a movement-based self-portrait erased twice within a one-hour performance. In her concern with slow diminishing repetitions of everyday actions, Seagrave presented a formal, highly choreographed work accentuated by use of meticulous sculptural and readymade objects. As the rituals became less recognisable as actions and engendered more stricken movements, the performance combined formality with a hint of hysteria, in depicting love-making, toothbrushing, dressing and undressing. However, the prescriptive quality of the work led to too overt a sense of presentation. Jamais Vu seemed too resolved as a fixed state of knowing to be successfully readable as a system of decay.

By contrast, Marie Cool & Fabio Balducci's work which similarly transformed older pieces such as Untitled (Prayers) (a work made between 1996 and 2004), into a new work, Untitled 2003-2009 (working title), was persistently fragile in its exactitude. The sense of concentration you encountered on entering the space elicited a focused witnessing of actions performed by Cool, which were minimal and abstract. By using entirely disposable props--pieces of white A4 paper, cardboard tubes, string--Cool evolved an economical strategy of measured repetition. Through slight disturbances to the natural forces holding her objects in place, she manipulated a system of delicate temporal and physical alteration. Her props seemed to yield to this only to revert to their original position, and in doing so described a state of failure or disappointment. …

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