Hourglass: mark-making in and as performance
This proposal responds to the specific themes of 'what happens when we draw with or from the body'; 'choreography as drawing with and from the body' and 'performative drawing - witness or viewer'. It aims to reveal the processes that are implicit within the author's methods of documenting an improvised performance through drawing and mark-making, and how the resulting documentation has the potential to act as a choreographic score to generate new performance work. The author reflects upon a performance commission that she received from Dance4 in 2015 to make an improvised performance in response to artefacts from Robert Wilson's opera Einstein on the Beach (1976) on exhibition at Backlit Gallery, Nottingham. She gave two performances of the hour-long work, titled Hourglass, at the gallery on Saturday 9 May 2015. She articulates her approach to documenting Hourglass from an in-vivo perspective. Treating the exhibits on display as a multi-modal document of the opera's development and performances, Doughty developed strategies for embedding her own documentation of Hourglass into the performance itself. In doing so, she disrupted the normative distinction between the roles of performer and documenter so that the performance's documentation was not conceived of as an additional imposition of practice-as-research but instead, was integral to the artistic practice (Nelson 2013, p.87). Interrogating methods for documenting or 'scoring' Hourglass gave rise to the design of wearable canvases that were integrated into the costume, onto which Doughty hand-drew key features from the performance, such as spatial pathways; movement/vocal material and moments of interaction with audience members, during the performance. Towards the end of each performance the wearable scores were repurposed as she removed each wearable canvas from the costume and hung them in the gallery space as exhibits, thus contributing to the artefacts from the opera's history. The author provides the context for her own drawing in performance by examining the work of dance and performance artists including Trisha Brown (Untitled 2007), Carolee Schneeman (Tracking 1973) and Si Rawlinson (Ink 2017) who have developed strategies for drawing in performance that 'encode movement' (Roben 2012). She proposes an alternative method of documenting that challenges a body of literature and artists' methods of documenting, in which the body gives rise to the mark in the moment of moving. It is a relatively common occurrence that performance is documented by someone other than the artist and from a position external to the work. Michael Woolley observes that 'a distinct tension exists between the performer and documenter' (2014, p. 59), and the author proposes that the nature of her documentation through mark-making in performance collapsed any suggestion of such 'tension', offering instead an embodied and embedded practice of documentation that arose seamlessly through the performance. Nelson notes that when documenting, 'the literal, indexical function of words is less useful than more poetic modes' (2013, p.90) and this is reflected in the mode of drawing undertaken during the performance of Hourglass. The mark-making shifted from a representational style of drawing to a technique that included Doughty's personal responses and a more poetic commentary on the work. The process and creative potential of treating the hand-drawn scores as archival material from Hourglass to inform new performance work such as Hourglass: Archive as Muse (Doughty, October 2015) will be discussed here, concluding that drawing in performance has the dual potential to document and generate.
Citation : DOUGHTY, S. (2017) 'Hourglass: Mark-Making in and as Performance' at Drawing Conversations 2: Body, Space, Object Conference, Coventry University, Friday 8 December 2017.
Research Group : Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Dance (CIRID)
Research Institute : Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies
- School of Arts