pitching and beginning

“Let’s not throw stones in glass houses Boni – some text-based performances can be really fucking boring”.

I make process driven, text-based performances that focus on repetition and duration as strategies and sometimes I bore my audiences – so for Winner! I’m pitching a series of durational text-based performances and installation of accumulated material that tackles the notion of ‘boredom’ (and ways to alleviate it).

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That was my one (very-long-plus-intro) line pitch for WINNER!

WINNER! is an exhibition curated by Mish Grigor as part of Firstdraft’s Experimental Curator’s Program (showing at Firstdraft Gallery from Wednesday 24 October – Saturday 27 October). Mish has taken her curatorial fee, turned it into a one-off art prize and invited a bunch of artists to pitch for the cash.

I have five minutes to pitch my idea to a live audience and a panel of judges. I have to do this without the aid of images, videos and objects. From there, three artists will be shortlisted and invited to expand on their concept. Again this is in front of a judging panel and a live audience. Then a ‘winner’ is picked!

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Throughout the process of developing and performing you must follow me carefully I’ve been confronted with this notion of ‘boredom’ on several occasions. One participant told me they had never looked at their watch so many times since being out of school. They were so bored they were counting the minutes till they could leave. I had another participant fall asleep. Another one who politely described their participation as an endurance test. And the one line intro was a comment directed at me (admittedly deserved given my prior comment in the conversation).

But beyond the participants boredom, there was my own to contend with as well. Believe me, if you the participant were struggling with your boredom after twenty minutes, spare a thought for what hours of performing that repetitive task produces. But I’m the artist – I can make it stop whenever I like and besides I set the task so I have no one else to blame.

But is boredom a negative response?

What is this elusive thing that seems to creep up in life (and art)?

Certainly when I was developing Off the Route and you must follow me carefully I was aware that such durational tasks would be difficult. They would be a struggle. But that was important. Struggling, pushing beyond and finding your own rhythm, structure and response was meant to be part of the experience of those participatory situations. Can boredom be useful?

As a side note – I don’t think boredom is a negative response. It was not the thing I was striving for as a response for my art but I am also that my performative series’ to date have been conceptually driven, and can be difficult to engage with without an understanding of these concepts. Which is another question for me to address in my practice – who is my audience? How do I make the artwork speak for itself? (Is that important?).

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