Mutantspace skills exchange member and performance artist Hilary Williams gives us another insight into her process of making art in Dublin
“August is a Wicked Month” Title of a book?
Who said that?
But then “Wicked” is a sort of slang for “deadly” “dead on“,
cool even. A sort of double negative that makes a thing positive,
“I never went nowhere”
but you did…
So where is this leading one you might ask…
This is an account of the last two per formative forays this “wan” was about this month.
White Form Passing Through.
Sounds interesting, so what’s it all about Alfie? (60’s song)
As an artist, yes I am one, happy to stand up and say “my name is Hilary Williams and I am an artist,”
So from time to time I need to go to my meetings, make art, get a fix, sort myself out, have support peers nearby….AA, artists anonymous.
Having trashed my white suits that were my material (see last column) I wanted something similar so I used a long piece of fleece for keeping plants warm in the winter, two rolls make for nice semi translucent floaty stuff.
I could get all cultural art speak here referring to the “masking“, “binding” one’s body, “tying the body up“, using the form as metaphor between the living form and the still wrapped corpse. But I won’t.
“Everything is in motion, everything is changing, everything is being transformed and yet nothing changes.”
The first venue was outdoors; Unit four, the Performance group in Dublin, make art about once a month in varied venues.
Is it guerrilla art? Not sure but good to work on ideas and have interaction with the public. A very giving art form is Performance art.
We choose “The Hollow” in The Phoenix Park opposite the Zoo, a man made amphitheatre with a band stand at the centre.
A warm Sunny Sunday, all planned by e mails, four of us turned up, each bringing their own materials /ideas and we set a sort of boundary and time factor and then just go for it…
We did a warm up first, all in the bandstand, probably looking like a yoga class.
We each set off in different directions, strangely with very little movement, soft slow carefully planned out movements. Fergus was making his way painfully across the edges outside. Dominic was making very small movements in the bandstand still on his back. I don’t think he moved more than a foot? Pauline was going slowly around with a bandage roll in her hands.
I made my way slowly around the inside of the bandstand tying the cloth to the pole and winding myself into it and unwinding away, a sort of floating flag with a human form trapped inside, At one point found myself tied and sort of hanging at the rim of the pole and unable to unwind, unusually for me I stayed with it and the material eventually released me.
It was in control. I was in trouble if I tried to control it.
I was very unaware of anything but being a “form“, but was very aware of that form transforming into new forms all the time as I wound in and out wrapping myself into and around objects.
I went up the hill a bit and several trees, close together, became a place to spread the whiteness, later I wrapped it and myself into a big tree. I was almost impossible to unwrap as it caught onto the bark.
I just “hung in” there. I had no idea what It looked like from the outside, maybe this weird human moth type form on the tree.
From inside I observed the world. The sun was hot but in here the tree shaded me and it felt good to just hang off the tree doing nothing at all but watch the world go by.
Several Spanish teenagers stood for a while inspecting me, the only word I caught was “loco”
I wandered on to a bench and wrapped my wrap around the bench and the other artist sitting there…
We were maybe an hour working. “Durational” art work is not invested in set times as in gallery parlance but more the simple time space or span need to make a piece.
I felt it was a short time and liked the continuous solving of mini problems this work presents. You can have a sort of mini plan but the best is to go for what sort of arrives in front of you.
As a child I remember rolling down the side of this place after visits to the zoo long ago, so thought about that but it’s not the same now, not soft grass anymore.
Still it was good to inhabit this space and make art there for whoever was watching. I counted ten or so bodies on benches who were still there when we concluded.
Were they watching? The impact we had on them and them to us will remain in our individual heads, no glossy write ups and critiques here. It did not matter.
Yet I felt something was ok about it, so used it as a proposal for a durational interactive performance multimedia show The NestXstage in The Back Loft, Dublin a few weekends later. Curated by Seamus?
It was accepted so I set too to produce this work indoors.
A whole different feel and space and audience.
The best way for me to rehearse, to try out work is to set up my own video and work in front of the camera which I did at home. A sort of manic presence drifted in white through our living room into the dining room and out through the patio doors, bits were beautiful when the sun caught the form through the material and the wind lift the cloth out the window, but ugly bits when I did not have a flow of movement and looked just daft pulling bits of myself over tables and around furniture.
I still wanted that freshness, not over rehearsed, unknowing a “What’s next? feel to this work. I think I got bits of all.
The space is good at The Back Loft. My allotted space was in the centre floor approximately.
There were several video and sculptural and other art works around and I had to be very careful of one in particular, a delicate tape wandered through cardboard on the floor immerging as a filmic, grainy, moving picture.
I started working very slowly but felt It was too slow, I did not feel it was very graceful and felt clumsy as the material did not cover all of me at times, I had all white clothes on but wanted to look more like a moving white form. Passing through, simply me, myself here at this space, right now, for so long, and then over, ended, me gone, you saw me so???
At one point I had over wound it on my head so could not see, proceeded along, at times found a body and wrapped it over them and moved passed, one group of woman said “a group wedding dress?” Another resisted, I moved away, I did not follow, you feel body language very easily under this work.
I did bang into a wall, and felt a hand guide me back! Then found a better arrangement and used sight, moving along the floor, over and onto chairs.
One chair I wound up on upside down with my legs moving up towards the roof. In those moments one is only aware of your own muscular heave and balance, yet could hear the babble of voices around.
I literally came across Marc O Connor doing a performance drawing. I interacted with him as he lay on the floor I stepped over his torso, just slowly drawing his shape with my foot as I passed by. I felt his heart beat through my feet.
Again I was not aware how long I was working but came to a sort of natural conclusion near the stage as others were beginning to start other durational live works.
On seeing the footage taken with my camera afterwards I was quite pleased with it.
Yet also felt it needed maybe more concentration, more paring down, more stillness, always I tend to over work my work.
I think it worked in with the other works and it made for an interesting mix of art.
I think Live art and “still” art for want of a better word don’t get together very often so an interesting evening.
I think about 40 people present so for me a bit of a step up in terms of numbers watching.
The next day I was back into my cosy normal middle of the road life playing golf, but badly as my body had spent all its energy making; White Form Passing Through Space.
Still I did it, I was there. I made something out of nothing…
Well not nothing, It Was I. My body, my life.
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