(Photos: The making process and final piece. Taken – 8 and 9 December 2013)
Our final performance saw us as performers trapped inside a human sculpture made up of bleached dog leads, white strips of material and strips of toilet paper hanging in the corner of the studio. Our performance space was incredibly small, meaning we were tightly packed and cocooned within the space. The aim was not to be seen, although the audience would be aware of our presence. This idea of control and manipulation was present as they were able to watch us in this sculpture whilst listening to the live soundscape through individual headphones. Although we were trapped, we wanted to show that our audience were too, as they were involved in their own isolated experience by wearing the headphones. The dog collars symbolised the 3 kidnapped girls and how Ariel Castro de-humanised them and controlled them – treating them like animals. The aim was to allow our audience to really analyse our use of materials and the subversion of their use. We wanted to manipulate the senses, and therefore used baby powder to create an extra layer of texture, and to give an over powering, clinical and familiar smell, often associated with babies, as soon as the audience entered the space. The digital alarm clock sat at the front amongst the material and toilet paper which went off after 33 minutes, symbolising the days Ariel Castro lasted in prison before he committed suicide.
(Photo: Final sculpture. Taken – 9 December 2013)
Every section of our soundscape was devised as a response to the kidnapping at the forefront of our research. For example the performance ended with the verbatim of the phone call that Amanda Berry, one of the captive women, made to the police. This material was presented in the style of a game show as a way of subverting the meaning of the words and almost placing a humorous feel into the serious subject, juxtaposing the situation.
(Photos: The initial and final script. Taken – 11 November 2013)
As a group, we made the decision not to give away too much detail about where our ideas came from. Sections like the end with the game show/ phone call and the Liam Neeson speech from the film Taken gave strong implications that our piece was about kidnap. The primary criticism in our feedback talk was that the audience did not pick up on this, and we were advised to have included a plaque placed in front of the sculpture, giving a brief outline of the influences of the piece and the story of the kidnap. Although this was frustrating to hear, as our previous ideas were to include this, we acknowledged these comments as both means to improve in the future and validation of our initial instincts in this project.
In 2002 Marina Abramovic performed in the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York a piece called, The House with the Ocean View. This durational performance lasted 12 days which saw Abramovic displayed on three raised platforms containing the necessaries: a bed, a toilet, spare clothes and water. She fasted for the entire performance and simply established eye contact with people throughout. She acknowledged “the world of the passing, frequently pausing observers below her.” (Richards 2009, p.107). The piece was supposed to be a “public mourning for 9/11” (Biesenbach 2010, p.34), although it seems many of her audience members were not aware of this. This was a very successful piece in which, like our performance, the audience did not realise the entire meaning behind it. I’ve learnt a great deal from this project, and overall we were very happy with our audience response and engagement with the piece.
Biesenbach, Klaus Peter (2010) Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Richards, Mary (2009) Marina Abramovic, Routledge performance practitioners, Oxon: Routledge