Host(s) was commissioned by Hatch as part of the Nottingham European Arts and Theatre Festival. Over the course of 4 hours, 50 audience-participants were hand-fed food that was cooked on site. In exchange for the food we cooked and offered, personal histories were shared and confessions taken. The performance asked questions about trust, intimacy, hospitality, care and the relational dynamics of strangers.
Architectures of Growth
Architectures of Growth was commissioned by The Future Factory at the Bonington Gallery and was a durational performance exploring Nottingham's lace making history. The piece took place in Nottingham's Lace Market area overlooking the site where the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery now stands. Over several hours, I tied hundreds of roses onto the railings separating the public from the building site where the gallery was under construction. The flowers were tied to the railings using redundant Nottingham lace which was transported to the site using a third generation lace maker's barrow.
Hello, I Love You
Hello, I Love You was commissioned as part of A Better Tomorrow at the Embrace Arts Centre, Leicester, UK. One by one, participants were led up to an empty seat where I had placed a card offering the invitation to call me on my mobile phone. Upon answering the call I proceeded to attempt to fall in love with my participants. We discussed love and loss, places and memories, sharing confessions and personal histories. Each participant spent 10 minutes speaking to me, connected only by our conversation and the rope that we both held. The performance explored the duration of intimacy and what it is to exchange secrets with strangers.
The Nottingham Bells
In 1956 two bells were removed from their site in Nottingham and taken to the St Anne's School in Queensland. In an intervention into the Nottingham site due for demolition where the bells were formally housed, The Nottingham Bells was a sonic performance that overlaid histories. On my instruction, my collaborator Dr. Pat Flecker, the amateur clock-maker who transported the bells to Australia in the 1950s, climbed the bell-tower and hit the bells manually, holding his mobile phone which was connected to a modified phone system in the Nottingham site. I amplified this sound out into the city street where the bells once pealed, connecting two continents and two sonic histories.
Host was a performance commissioned by Little Wolf Parade. Working with artist Julian Woodcock, I hand-fed a series of participants in exchange for personal histories. Food was cooked on-site and traded for thoughts in an effort to better understand the dynamics of social intimacy and proximity. Over several hours we discussed accidents in Spanish markets, ballet, Brixton parties, what is revealed through hotel windows and many other things.
Thought Acts was commissioned as part of the Liberated Words festival of digital poetry and was shown at the Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. The film captures a journey through the English countryside on a day when the sunshine animated the words on a performance script as it shone through a train window. The piece features in the book The Poetics of Poetry Film by Sarah Tremlett for Intellect Books.
Flat Lights saw neighbours brought together in an action that used light and performance to question our togetherness. In the performance letters were posted to each of the residents in Nottingham's Victoria Centre Flats asking them to turn their lights on and off at an agreed time and date. The letter informed them that I would be watching them from a nearby building. At the agreed time I observed as lights started going off and on, with each resident unaware of who and where I was, and who was taking part.
Liberated Words From Berlin
Commissioned by the Pound Arts Centre Bath, UK, Liberated Words from Berlin was a video made in Berlin, Germany that explored one's sense of disorientation whilst traversing a landscape whose past and present make demands for our attention. The piece features in the book The Poetics of Poetry Film by Sarah Tremlett for Intellect Books.
Installed at the Victoria Studios in Nottingham, Preservation explored ideas of archiving material and preserving memory.
Drawing Breath and Remaining Visible
Drawing Breath and Remaining Visible featured in the exhibition Drawn to Time and was selected by guest curator Susan Kemenyffy. The Curator invited submissions in response to the theme of ‘temporal drawing’ suggesting that temporality is not only inherent in drawing, both as a process and as a product, but is also its fundamental condition. The exhibition considers that to draw is to draw inescapably in and of time. If to make a mark is to capture the trace of a gesture, then mark-making reveals the movement of time—of the living present becoming past, and of the past contracting into the present. Submissions were invited from anyone practicing drawing in a traditional or expanded way and over 370 drawings were received from artists across the globe in response.
a-to-b and Consciousness (Path)
a-to-b and Consciousness was a comment on our simple negotiations of space. I watched as people used wasteland to cut seconds off their journeys, making these invisible traces in the ground evident by laying bin-bag paths. These materials associated with waste gave those passing through a greater sense of their spatial negotiation.
Love at First (Site)
Sleight of Hand
Sleight Of Hand was performed at the Yorkshire Sculpture as part of John Newling's major retrospective at the YSP. The piece invited participants to suspend their belief in what they saw happening in front of them. A series of magic tricks were performed and contracts of trust were established between performers and audience-participants.
Walking Through the Field
An imbricated drawing ontology: Economies of pattern, chaos and scale extrapolates material from participation in a project titled ‘A line made by walking without marking the earth’ (2011) which fed into ‘Walking through the field’, part of my practice as research (PAR) Ph.D. titled ‘Site-specific performance and the mechanics of becoming social’ (2018). ‘Walking through the field’ is reworked in this text to present an imbricated drawing ontology that is composed from, and understood through, a process of layering materials generated whilst walking, sharing personal histories and being tracked by satellites. A chaotic assemblage of personal thoughts and memories is layered with the ordering capabilities of the satellites which track movements in space to create drawings from the traces, lines and patterns these technologies generate. The methods used to bring together these traces, lines, patterns and memories seek to articulate a sense of what social scientist Doreen Massey refers to as ‘throwntogetherness’ and speak to what Massey might describe as an ‘ever-shifting constellation of trajectories’. An imbrication of micro and macro events of space and place speak to a purposeful disruption of stable definitions of site, connecting a multiplicity of people, events and specificities to create an imbricated drawing ontology.
Commemoration and Non-Place was a series of interventions into derelict sites. Flowers were installed on the Sterling Board barriers separating inside from outside. These temporary borders became symbols of transition and memorial. I observed as anonymous strangers tended to the flowers that fell from the boards, taking it upon themselves to care for a site whose history they knew nothing about.
Love at First (Site) features in Ways to Wander. This book is your invitation to experiment with a whole range of different ways to 'go for a walk'. Rather than picking up a map and following a footpath, the book offers 54 intriguingly different suggestions, tactics and recollections, all submitted by artists (most of them involved with the Walking Artists Network). There are plenty of ideas you can just go out and try, but others are more performative or explore the psychological, cultural and philosophical aspects of walking Pop the book in your back pocket, leave it in your rucksack, share it with friends and take them on a walk, use it in creative workshops, read it as if each instruction were poetry, engage with each page as visual art or as a performance activity, let it remind you of places you've been or walks you'd like to do. When the moment takes you, be inspired by the variety of inventive and reflective ideas mapped out here and then simply... wander.
Commemoration and Non-Place
Composing the Material of our Inner Voices: Creative Listening and the Dialogic Self, published in Leap Into Action Companion: Critical Performative Pedagogies in Art & Design Education
This companion to Leap into Action: Critical Performative Pedagogies in Art & Design Education extends the research and the argumentation addressed in the monograph and provides (further) practical insight into how one might apply performative pedagogy in class, including what performative teaching and learning looks like day to day and what technoparticipation entails. This publication operates as an instruction manual on the sophisticated deployment of performative strategies in practice. Each contribution embraces an easy-to-follow presentation style that starts with a contextual introduction outlining a specific innovative pedagogic performative strategy. The strategy is then laid out as a set of instructions (think Fluxus for teachers), with self-reflective discussion to conclude. This echoes a three-stage learning process: Anticipation, Action and Analysis, a reflective model of practice for you to use and adapt to suit your own practice trajectories.
Bites of Passage: Thresholds, Permeability and Hand-Fed Food for Thought
Bites of Passage: Thresholds, Permeability and Hand-Fed Food for Thought discusses two performances created between 2013 and 2014 titled Host and Host(s) that explored how openness and trust are gained through the promise of hospitality. These performances saw strangers open the borders that separate the inside and outside of their bodies to allow hand-fed food to cross their accepting thresholds in return for personal narratives. Openness suggests potential passage into or through something, and here there is literal openness as the permeable body opens to receive the food on the spoon. The body as site becomes accessible once trust has been gained, and an emotional openness plays out as audience-participants both mentally and physically open up to their host.
The article explores social thresholds through the analysis of performance using Marie-Eve Morin and Jacques Derrida’s writing on the conditionality and thresholds of hospitality. Morin comments that the threshold ‘functions both as the place of closure and the place of openness’ (Morin, 2015: 31), and, underpinned by Nick Kaye’s positioning of site as a process rather than fixed location, these movements between being open and closed frame processes of becoming social with strangers. Doreen Massey’s ideas on social ‘throwntogetherness’ are interwoven with this framing as intimate personal details are exchanged through the collision of trajectories in social space. Massey proposes that ‘we understand space as the sphere in which distinct trajectories coexist’ (Massey, 2005: 9). This framing of coexistent space converges with Marc Augé’s positioning of place and non-place to propose an interrelationality that opens new dialogues and modes of participation.
ACTIVATE VOL. 2/ ISSUE 1: FIGURE OF THE SENSIBLE SPECIAL ISSUE: PERFORMING RELATIONS (JOURNAL)
'Steve Fossey is Trying to make more sense in the form of an introduction, beginning, and score of a dialogic performance arranged around the reflections on his project. His following up the ‘Following pieces’ (1969) by Acconci brings us through various flâneurous drifts on the production of private and public spaces and places to a rather unpretentious confession, a handing over of the sense-making to you... the reader' (Greil, 2012).