The following post, I hope, is of a thinking/considering process that might reslove at the end. Still a question?
A few years ago, around 2012, there was an exhibition at Phoenix Arts in Brighton where they used raw boards for walls between spaces.
Somehow, I managed to get these boards after the show. The idea was/is a sort of question from Duchamp’s notion of painting as an ironing board, the reciprocal readymade. The boards were used as if for function only in the gallery. As if they were walls. However, by the fact they can be used without physical modification, as a floor – makes both activities “as if” operations. The boards are between however they happen to be operated, and as such, materials to wonder from and with – in my mind at least.
One of the things/elements that still stop me from doing stuff with the boards is the question of performance and performativity.
I distrust performances as these are in sequences of being – or seeming to be – developing various gaps between performing and operating.
That gap seem to cause mud flows in my mind.
When Duchamp made the urinal, I think he made a performance. The performance in that instance is fascinating in my mind because it questions the link between performativity and operativity.
By questioning the activity of taking an object, calling it something, signing it and placing in art context – to make it “art” – I think Duchamp was making a performance that mimicked that of sculpting and painting’s activities. By performing the signature, the name giving, the context alterations, etc., we seem to get an opportunity to question these operations percisely as to whether they are performative, or operative.
In this case, am making a distinction between operative and performative as different ontological entities. The performative represents – or has the capacity and intent – to represent stuff other than itself. The operative has to operate as it might do – just to be.
An wave Has to move in a given manner to be a wave. A crowd, or a person doing a wave is performing certain aspects of a wave’s operation.
I think one of the interesting thing with Urinal is that while performing an “artworld” kind of operation, the activity becomes its own operation. The activity can Be independent from its representational performative aspects, and have its own life.
Really? Why? How?
Well, in my mind the proof for the operational independence am talking about is the fact that from urinal we can trace a development of various contextual languages, developments of other ways to operate with context oriented representations while being linked to notions of art.
the fact that there are other ways to operate the qualities of context, not just as a performance of some art-world possible ritual, indicates that maybe indeed the Urinal can be both performative and an operation that is independent from that performance – at the same time.
However, we still get a gap between performance of one thing, and an actual being of something else. Or do we?
The Urinal performs a traditional art process, while doing an operation that is clearly different, no?
The performance initiates the operation of contextuality. Allows the context alteration to provoke possible new meanings. However, I think that that is exactly where gaps appear that cloud the clarity of wondering via the simplicity of context alterations.
Meanings, representations and performance. The Urinal, if it is to operate as a question, seems to need stuff other than its own activities to Be. The activities are oriented towards meaning gain and production.
True, that is the way meanings operate, beings that have to Be other than how they are. (eg the sound “sound” operates in a way different to meanings it performs, and so on..)
However, in my mind, that is precisely when art linked operations become least interesting. In the performance of meanings. Or rather in being forced to perform and represent stuff other than who and how they are.
Going back to the boards, I think am kind of stuck between boards, wood, walls, a gallery history, home and my floor.. There is something I sense, but it is yet to be clear? Perhaps I should begin doing something to get it cleared? Whatever that It might be?
Re-reading the blurb and its inner mix of performance with operation and fascination with the Urinal’s operation as a performance, I begin to think that there is a fundamental mistake in my approach.
Perhaps Performance is a type of Operation, a meaning and value added type. A confabulative process through which operations, cultural operations at any rate, are being given a chance to be on the scale between celebration (entertainment) and a question. (possibly art?)
If indeed this is the case, that there are operations, say how X turns out to Be art, then maybe the performance is a part that allows embodiment of meanings and values to be linked with.
In that case, if this is sort of correct, then the Urinal’s performance as an art linked operation, plays for the audience the need for value and meanings?
In other words, am still critical and feeling the process is unclear, however that critique is linked with a sense that performativity is a quality that plays in ones’ mind. Hence the observation of a performance entails participation and that participation – when being attempted to be channeled and controlled – can be robbed and become a performance of how a person/body-culture might fancy performing but is being denied..?
In a sense, performance by the art practice/object/process/project/etc. denies the freedom of others to perform by creating a certain specification which, if one fancies questioning and deviating from, one has to enter a conflict rather than a welcome.
Going back to the wave analogy:
When there is an ocean wave, that wave is an ocean operation. Would the ocean feel a need to both operate and perform its waves? Does it really need to?
The wave, by interacting with humans, rocks, wind, fish and others, performs something with them. When I watch a wave, the practice – of wave watching – includes waves performing if am attempting to perceive them into stuff Other than, for example, ocean waves.
Say am perceiving the waves as shaped surges. Polygons. Ocean sound makers. Links. the waves perform for the interpretation, for a certain value.
This value can then be abstracted, be stripped of performativity and gain its own independent operation as a part of, say a sequence. e.g. A sound instrument that considers the differentiation between people proximity and temperture as elements that make up the intyensity of its noises. A clear link here with ocean waves, I think, but clearly independent of them.
The ability to have the freedom to Be as an inspired Being, in my mind, is being channeled by performativity prescribed. When performativity is part of the operation.
Perhaps I want it too bare, too immanent, too free, too open, too on its own, too “natural”, too much as an energy and far less than a given power?