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Certain Fragments

“The struggle to produce witnesses rather than spectators is present in the contemporary performance scene. You can see it in excess/epic style at least in the public piercings and mutilations by American artist Ron Athey or the ‘suspensions’ on meet-hooks carried out by Stelare, events in which extreme versions of the body in pain, in sexual play and in shock demand repeated of those watching – ‘be here, be here, be here…’.

You can see it in much milder work too, and sometimes more clearly. In the rearrangements of audiences space and contract repeatedly employed by the UK performance companies Station House Opera and Blast Theory, and by the US group Goat Island, whose physical vocabulary) of school gym class, nervous ticks, sports moves and intimate gestures) its itself a kind of witnessing – writing of cultural biography in neglected physicality. You can see the plea for witnesses in the ritualistic slowness and the simple presence of work by performance artist Alistair MacLennan, work that charts the landscape half public and politicized, half private and resolutely interior. You can see in the durational performances of poet and artist Brian Catling, and in the use of personal and unlikely spaces by Bobby Baker – Kitchens, medical centers, schools. In each of these artist’s work one gets, in every different ways, an invitation to be here and be now, to feel exactly what it is to be in this place and time.”

– Tim Etchells, Certain Fragments

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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.
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