Through my action lab experiments I had the opportunity to test out different aspects of my practice in a rigorous academic environment. I see my work generally as a form of somatic deviant research. Meaning art for me is a space in which I get to contest hegemonic thinking and culture. Performing private rituals in public felt daunting, but ultimately liberating.
The formal aspect of the Action Lab was very helpful for me in selecting specific aspects of my practice to develop a more formal structure for presentation. Having to work out how to create and sustain live images was a real learning curve for me. As well, as having to negotiate the space, physically, with the other students. Performing in the privacy of my studio, I am not aware of time in the same way as I had to be for my action lab experiments, nor how much space I might be taking up. Receiving feedback was very insightful as to how people respond to my work, as well as how to develop it further.
In my first action lab experiment, using shadow play, I was exploring the idea of illusion, and then breaking that illusion. I was interacting with different objects behind the screen, which I then brought forward to the table, visible to the audience. I thought it was interesting that the after math of my performance became an altar, which wasn’t my intention. In conversation with my tutor Martin O’Brien, we discussed the possibility of subsequently using that altar as a new station to carry out another set of actions from. This made me think about ways of organising performance through different stages, and how to get from A to B.
In my second action lab experiment, I had a less formal structure to my performance. I was interested in getting lost in the process, and exploring the live aspect of live art. That unique quality of live art, which allows for trying out untested ideas and techniques in front of an audience. There was no beginning nor end to my performance, I did not want to make work that was representational. I was interested in acting as a conduit for charging the space, in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration. The feedback Barak adé Soleil, co-director of LADA, who was present in the space, gave was very thought provoking. He/They posed questions about accessibility, which made me think about space in a completely different way. I was questioning the material conditions of space, how space is held, organised, occupied, and often taken for granted. Barak adé Soleil posed another interesting question, “what’s the rush?”, which stayed with me for a while. It challenged me to think critically about my performance in terms of casualness versus sustained concentration.
In the third action lab, the main concern with my experiment was how to create and sustain live images. Using a digital camera to create self-portraits, live in front of an audience, was useful, as it allowed me to step out of the frame and look at the images I was creating. Also, it gave me something to work with. It made me feel like there was something at stake there. I was trying to get somewhere, to an image on the horizon. This performance made me think about the interplay between image making and performance, which is something I want to keep exploring. However, I am questioning whether self-portraiture is more of a private process, through which I can arrive at an image/character I can develop for a live performance, rather than something to be performed live.