PTSL emerged from a particular trajectory of my practice concerned with audience participation, constructed situations and the development of real-time documentation. I began to question whether it was unreasonable to demand such commitment from my audiences. Instead, this task retreats into an internal and subjective space – establishing a clear divide between artist and audience. At the time, I wondered what the point was of performing this highly personal experience publicly. In the aftermath, it has left me questioning whether this artist/audience distance was ever eliminated (or close to being eliminated) through those other participatory events.
In the lead up to Public Thinking, I’ve spent some time going through this document. Questions keep emerging and I’m not really certain about the answers. On the one hand, the transformation of this process into an object seems to refute the position that has informed my practice to date. The performance document is frequently critiqued due to its distance from the live event and its fragmentary nature. Arguably to have an ‘authentic’ experience, you had to be there, in-the-flesh at the live event. Exhibiting the document of a live event, but denying the viewer access to its contents seemingly upholds this position.
The argument that privileges the live event, operates on the notion that there is a direct connection established between artist and audience. Yet live event is ultimately framed through an individual’s attention and interpretation – generating a multiplicity in perspectives, each one fragmented in itself. Does performance then ever manage to eliminate the distance between artist and audience? Here, the document-as-object, isn’t so much privileging the live event. Rather it operates on the same conditions of its production – as the ‘third thing’. It simply supplements the performance as the mediator between artist and audience.