Hourglass: Drawing in and as Performance
In 2015, the author was commissioned by Dance4 to make an improvised dance performance, titled Hourglass, in response to artefacts from Robert Wilson’s seminal opera Einstein on the Beach (1976) exhibited at Backlit Gallery, Nottingham, UK. Reflecting upon the rehearsals and performances, the author addresses the specific themes of ‘what happens when we draw with or from the body’ and ‘choreography as drawing with and from the body’ to reveal how she used drawing in the performance as a means of documentation. The author articulates how her drawings act as a choreographic score that serves the dual function of documenting Hourglass and generating a new performance. It is a relatively common occurrence that performance is documented by someone other than the artist and from a position external to the work, which can establish ‘a distinct tension […] between the performer and documenter’ (Woolley 2014, p. 59). Through developing strategies for embedding her own documentation of Hourglass into the performance itself, the author writes from an in-vivo perspective to disrupt this normative distinction between performer and documenter. She proposes that the nature of her documentation through mark-making in performance collapses any suggestion of such ‘tension’ and offers instead an embodied and embedded practice of drawing in and as performance. Documenting Hourglass through drawing was not an additional imposition of practice-as-research but instead was integral to the artistic practice (Nelson 2013, p.87) and the underlying thrust of the performance. The author provides the context for her own drawing in performance by examining the work of other dance and performance artists who have employed strategies for drawing and performing, such as Si Rawlinson (Ink, 2017), Trisha Brown (Untitled, 2007), La Ribot (No. 26, 1997) and Carolee Schneeman (Tracking, 1973). Broadly speaking, the burgeoning literature and other source materials that cite these artists amongst many others who make marks during performance, refers to practices in which the marks are made as a result of the moving body being in direct contact with the mark-receiving surface, so that the movement of the artist generates line (Le Mens 2014, p102). However, in Hourglass, the author made drawings by hand in response to movement that she had already made during the performance, as opposed to drawings made by the full-body in motion in the moment of moving. Therefore, in this chapter, she proposes that her drawing methodology challenges the more established, familiar methods of artists such as Brown, Schneeman and Rawlinson, and addrsses a gap in contemporary performance practices and literature that refers to these two forms. The author goes on to discuss how her interrogation of methods used to draw Hourglass gave rise to her design of a wearable canvas that was integrated into the costume, onto which she 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 the performance, the author repurposed the wearable canvas by removing it from her costume and hanging it in the gallery space as an exhibit. This contributed to the artefacts from the opera and evolved as archival material arising from Hourglass, but functioned also as a compositional score to inform a future performance work titled Hourglass: Archive as Muse (Doughty, October 2015). Drawing and mark making is an established and well documented approach to making compositional scores for improvised performances. The author will draw upon her experience of working with leading movement improvisers Nina Martin and Lin Snelling, to exemplify the role that mark making plays in their practices and discuss how this informed her personal approach to drawing in Hourglass. The drawing’s dual function of documenting existing and generating new performance will be discussed here. The author identifies parallels between drawing and improvising in performance, and articulates how her approach to making spontaneous decisions in one form is reflected in and informs the other. This chapter aims to contribute to the literature and contemporary performance practices that address dancing and drawing by proposing a strategy that challenges many of the established and documented mainstream approaches.
Citation : Doughty, S. (2020) Hourglass: Drawing in and as Performance . In: Journeaux, J., Gorrill, H., Reed, S. (Eds.) Body, Space, and Place in Collective and Collaborative Drawing: Drawing Conversations II. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
ISBN : 9781527541962
Research Institute : Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Arts