"How do we make space and hold space for unsettling conversations? How does the very organisation and set up of a space influence the way these conversations will move? What are the differences between when you tell/listen to stories on a train or in a performance hall, or with the person lying next to you in bed? Are we constantly shuffling around the make or take up space as we perform our identities in the multiple spaces we inhabit throughout our lives? Might seem like a simple metaphor for much more complicated questions, but who we do or do not decided to sit next to seems to speak a lot to how we locate ourselves in the physical spaces we inhabit. Is it possible to unsettle the organisation of these spaces so our reactions are not so determined?"
-- Josephine Haworth Lee
Why has art today become a space where people come to silently sit and receive without engaging with the material presented to them? The intention of art is to create a space of engagement, where people come to interact with one another, give rise to conversation, conflict, discussion and debate. If we, as members of the audience, step into a space simply to observe instead of strike a dialogue with what is presented to us, we help create a space lacking creation--a space where information is presented to us as instruction. During our journey in Platform 1, we attempted to create a space where people gather, engage with one another and with the performers, and a space that welcomes creativity and innovation.
However, were we successful in the creation of such a space? When the performers attempted to bridge the gap between themselves and the audience through jokes, the creation of suspense and performative gestures intended to draw the audience in, they were met with some suspicion and hesitation. The audience, comprising of young students in the aforementioned case, "looked slightly nervous when asked questions, as if they were expected to give ‘the right answer’ when responding". Despite there being considerably little space between the performers and the audience owing to it being an intimate arrangement, the gap or the boundary between the two exists symbolically in the minds.
It is this gap that perhaps lends to the static nature of performative art today.
This blog is an attempt to capture, in written form, some of our thoughts and conversations as we build the Unreserved performance.