The following text was written by Lital Dotan for the exhibition ‘Of Evacuation’ presented at Glasshouse in September 2013
Can a performance be maintained after the performer had left?
‘Of Evacuation’ is an exhibition of performance art works, asking what happens after the performance ends. If performance is an art form that is experienced within a tight time-frame, what remains after the work ends? Whereas paintings, sculptures, and videos can be preserved and archived, performance inherently challenges these practices, or forces us to rethink preservation and archiving. In these works – that together form a conceptual framework of our planned work in the coming year – we explore the meanings and implications of performance’s existence over time.
Entering the Glasshouse on opening night, a young man welcomes visitors with a smile and presses on an adding machine. He is too busy to chat because he needs to count entrances. A woman dressed in a lab coat sits behind a counter, and suggests a donation of DNA. She collects either hair or nail samples and places them in tiny plastic bags placed in an aluminum soup pot. A man on crutches offers guidance through the exhibition.
These three actions, titled Performing Hospitality, manifest the double mechanism of hospitality. While hospitality is welcoming and good-hearted, it also always contains some implied power of authority. These performances attempt to expose and manifest the power that dwells within hospitality. But through this reversal they also come closer to the opposite of hospitality – evacuation – and ask what is left of hospitality when narrowed down to the powers that are embedded in it.
Manifesting the Script
On the gallery floor, 12 old-looking monitors are simultaneously projecting parts of a past
24-hour performance (titled “Snatch and Release”) first performed at the Glasshouse in November 2012. The original performance was interfered and was not completed as planned: the performance’s script was never performed as an ongoing performance but only in fragments and in different occasions. The video installation Manifesting the Script attempts to re-assemble a performance out of its fragments. It questions what or where is THE performance – in the original plan/script or in what eventually happened/mis-happened? And can the documentation of the performance revive it – or even give new life to the original performance that never took place?
This large drawer cabinet includes remains from past performances: a half used IV bag with what looks like blood, a folded robe, printed paper titled “script”, DNA samples in plastic bags, polaroids – each drawer carries a title from a performance and a sample of its remains. These remains pose questions about the possibility of archiving a performance work: what can be archived and what cannot? And can the remains change the meaning of the original performance retrospectively?
Downstairs, a video installation of a sleeping couple is projected upon Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry's Bar-Bed. Across from the installation is a 'Suspended-Hug-Device': a folded fabric over a wooden swing structure, and a neon sign that states 'have some soup' in Lital's handwriting. Each of these objects are sculptures that occasionally function as one-on-one performance generators.
On the wall by the bar are printed papers with what seems like computer programming codes. These Performance Pseudocodes are an attempt to script a performance into a generic automated action, stripped from the persona of the performer. Can the performance be narrowed down to its coded principle? Can such a code serve as a key to the performance’s re-performance?
Video, photography and installation works by Dotan & Perry are displayed throughout the house. Upon leaving through the residential entrance floor, visitors find themselves in the Sculpture Garden: a white dining table with 4 white toilet seats, exposed springs that were once a mattress, and by the door is a big metronome-shaped object filled with ashes, with two tubes attached. This is an 'Ash Breath' device for producing a symphony of silence.
Of Evacuation continues the framing logic of our works throughout the past year, in which the performances titles referred to contemporary police mechanisms of crowd control ('Public Safety', 'Snatch and Release', 'Other Than Designated Spot') or suggested codes of behavior for individuals in massive protests ('I Am Not Resisting'). These titles suggest that whatever happens at Glasshouse cannot be considered apart from a certain socio-political pulse. Of Evacuation manifests political aspects of being private and public, and reflects today's state of emergency and anxiety, aggression, social turbulence, policed mechanisms of power display, tightened supervision, dependency, and unrest.
-LD, September 2013