3 performers, 5 sense flags (silk, photocopies on cotton), 5 colour photocopies, golden arrows, fire, stainless steel bowls, water, battery-powered slide projector, flashlights, copper trellis
Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby ON
August 3, 1996, 8:45 pm
The audience arrived for the performance prior to dusk. Leaving the parking area, they walk up a driveway through woods which opens onto the bowl field. Here, they receive a small, green bookwork. In a tree near the entrance point is a green silk flag on a branch pole bearing the image of the hand. A metal bowl placed upon twisted, vine-like metal legs is placed in the centre of the field. I am filling large stainless steel bowls with water and placing them on the grass. The audience passes through the bowl field to enter a trail. The entrance is marked with a flag. The trail leads through trees in which are placed colour photocopies of the 5 sense images lit with flashlights. It then leads through a more open area. Leaning against a tree, marked with a sense flag is a large metal tubular shape of a heart and lungs. Traveling through this area, the audience then comes to the abandoned quarry, a flat sunken rock area with plants growing through cracks and fissures, refuse, and Yves Tremblay’s installation. Beside the quarry is the Lookout; a space between tall rocks which provides a bird’s eye view of the town below and Lake Ontario. Here, the dancers dance, dressed in white and lit in the falling darkness each by a powerful hand-held spotlight. They improvise from a set of gestures of the senses and the movements which I danced in the gravel pit near Alma in 1994 during the first part of the exchange. At the ringing of a bell, the lights are extinguished and the dancers stop. At the lookout, a slide projection is now visible in the darkness, the image of a brain projected on the rock. The audience makes its way back to the bowl field where a fire is burning in the metal bowl on its pedestal. It’s now very dark and the mosquitoes are out in force. Some people head for their cars while others gather near the fire before making their way home.
This performance is part of an on-going cycle of both performance and installation works is which I am working with ideas of the relationship between the body and consciousness. I see these notions as integral to the different worldviews which shape our customs, beliefs and behaviours. I choose the body, the organs by which we perceive the world and internal organs through which we conceive ourselves experiencing thought and emotion, as the “site” of our humanity. I choose the body as the place where difference falls away to reveal shared humanity.
This work is also part of a cycle of performance work which takes place outdoors and in which the audience walks through a route past image sites. My motivation in leaving the gallery or theatre for public conservation areas, parks and gardens is to question the dichotomy and disconnection of nature and culture which is part of our cultural norm. I also enjoy aspects of this way of working for purely formal reasons; this work connects with the kind of concerns with “properties” of time-based media which characterized much early performance and video (e.g. the length of the performance being determined by tasks and nature) and I like engaging the spectator in a walk which therefore reverses the usual dance/theatre/performance/film/video relationship between audience and image. (Instead of the image passing by in front of you, you pass by in front of the image.)
This performance was part of Terre Commune/Common Ground, an exchange show of artists from Niagara and Chicoutimiti organized by the Grimsby Public Art Gallery and Gallery Séquence. *Terre Commune/Common Ground Artists: Guy Blackburn, Elizabeth Chitty, Claudine Cotton, Martin Dufrasne, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Ronald Thibert, Yves Termblay, Gayle Young. This artist exchange between Grimsby, Ontario and Alma, Quebec was also known as Cuesta.
Performers: Elizabeth Chitty, Bee Pallomina, Heidi Strauss
Thanks to Nell Siddons Chitty, Robert Siddons, Kathy Eggert, Comfort Zone, Cheryl Paterson, Gayle Young, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Mary Rashleigh