The role of the performer is an interesting concept when looking at contemporary work. Marina Abramovic’s risky and dangerous work often places the audience in a significant role within it. They are not only the spectator; they are given sense of control, power and presence within a performance. The Artist Is Present (2010) is a famous one to one durational performance, which lasted three months, from March to May 2010. Abramovic spent each day sat at a table in The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The audience were invited to sit for as long as they wanted at a chair opposite her. Her audience queued for hours to become a spectator and be involved in the performance. The audience played an equal part in her performance; it relied on their presence as much as hers. The performance was about the “silent exchange between the artist, the sequence of people who occupy the chair opposite her, and the audience.” (Biesenbach 2010, p.40). The piece evoked different emotions and reactions from both the audience and the performer, as this exchange was dependent on the person who entered the space and how they connected to Abramovic. The spectator dictated how long this exchange lasted, empowering them with a sense of control over their own experience.
Andre Stitt is another contemporary artist experimenting with durational work, and is known for his “cutting edge, provocative and politically challenging work.” (Stitt 2013). He creates live art for group and solo exhibitions, and often presents his work in a gallery style in which the audience can view for as long or as short a period as they want to. One performance entitled The Institution (2005) was spread across various rooms in a warehouse which played host to different objects. He used an axe in one room to chop square windows into one of the walls and went on to paint black frames around them.
(Photo: Google Images – The Institution by Andre Stitt. Accessed 12 November 2013)
‘Entrapment’ is the stimulus for our performance. One news report which stood out in our research, was the recent escape of three women who were kidnapped over ten years ago. Ariel Castro, the kidnapper of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, was imprisoned for a total of 33 days before he committed suicide. The women themselves were in captivity for 10-11 years, yet Castro only endured 33 days of incarceration. This inspired the strict sense of timescale in our performance and subsequently, the title of our piece: 33 minutes.
Creating a durational performance interested us as it explores the “effects of endurance, such as exhaustion and euphoria; the ironic ephemerality of the event” (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.184). However, creating a performance that lasted 33 days is impossible, given our other commitments and projects. Our piece then became 33 minutes. We started to generate an interest in creating a gallery feel to our performance. We, as performers could become objects within a sculpture, stripping away identity and becoming a part of a piece of artwork. It is necessary for the sculpture to appear clinical, as if cleansed, and rid of any emotive characteristics. Over the ten years, the news of the three girls kidnapped inevitably became less important amongst more current events and headlines. Their identities were lost as a result of diminishing media attention. As a group we want to portray this within our performance by concealing ourselves within our own sculpture, a sculpture created to be observed.
Allain, Paul and Jen Harvie (2006) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, Oxon: Routledge.
Biesenbach, Klaus Peter (2010) Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Stitt, Andre (2013) Andre Stitt, Online: http://www.andrestitt.com/about-this/ [Accessed 1 November 2013].