Robert Daniels is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at The University of Chichester, and leads on their MA in Performance (Theatre/Theatre Collectives) programme. He's also joint Artistic Director of Bootworks Theatre, and author of DIY and DIY Too (available on Unbound).
"Imagine we're in an over-emphatic, jubilantly ecstatic, evangelical event... you know, the kind that's equally at home in an opulent stone and glass palace as it is a conference centre, stadium or tent... all singy-dancey, and full of ecstasy and hysteria.
... the one where the frail old lady with arthritis shuffles up to the stage. The preacher, all maroon-faced, sweaty and shiny - with as much pomp and majesty as he can muster - lays his hands upon her head, screams instructions (to a ‘something’: not-in-the-room, but sort-of floating above), and squarely punches her into the arms of expectant, immaculately suited, assistants. The crowd swoons. People faint. The ‘demon’ has been 'released'.
Next week she'll shuffle up to the stage and ask the preacher to cure her whiplash.
This is what I think of when I imagine a lot of (mainstream) “Theatre”: masses of people blindly, dogmatically, following an orthodox (and more often than not, some kind of guru), willfully stepping up to get smacked down... replacing one pain with another. Supposing that this is all some kind of miracle cure, and trampling on any heathen that thinks or says (or does) differently. Same goes for “Art”, “Live Art”, “Dance”… whatever your poison. Same shit different day. I dislike reverence. I dislike obtuse and esoteric ‘theory’, and fluffy notions of ‘purity; or ‘truth’ in a lot of discourse (in/with ‘the Arts’ in particular).
Don't misunderstand me though, my analogy to religious evangelicalism is not obtuse. Or particularly rebuking. I'm agnostic, so I do believe in having faith. For me, there's simply something about it all that reminds me of the witticism (variously attributed to Einstein, Franklin and Twain) that "insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”, and I think this true of the way in which our ‘Arts’, cultural industries, the academy, and arts ecology have dawdled their way into a state of such inadequacy and imbalance.
… Ok… I’ve perhaps started this a little over-emphatically myself. Let me explain… you see, as an ‘academic’ (as well as an artist) I’ve had to read a look of books. That’s all. And I’m just often surprised (and fairly bored) with wave after mutual-masturbatory wave of reverence and platitudes towards artists and work - when (because of said reading) I’ve seen it all before. Too many books - too - are rolled out and waste trees on the same old boring people and subjects too.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with all this per se - some work/ideas (etc.) needs to be repeated (and sometimes it’s ‘better’ too) - but I just feel too often that despite apparently working in a much-better-than-before ecology of the arts, I’m constantly in need of reminding myself of the difference between what I’m ‘supposed’ to like, and what I actually like. Or, what is ‘good’ and what is actually ‘good’.
That’s one of the reasons I often use LADA and Unbound as a resource: it gives space and voice to a lot of stuff I’ve not seen or heard of before (or rather: a range of work I think should be seen and heard of more).
As a maker, I recognise I’m also courting a certain kind of scrutiny at my own work. The kind you might get if you’re a maker and also a ‘reviewer’ of other’s work (which I’ve also done). Let’s be clear: in no way am I claiming to be an iconoclast or something ‘better’… I just don’t like doing or believing in things ‘just because’, and I don’t like it if I can’t get my hands dirty and have a go at something ‘new’, or ‘different’… or perhaps just the same, just on my own terms.
My interest in "DIY" (performance) is especially rooted in this predicament. I’m drawn to the notion (and ethics and symbolic metaphor) of doing it oneself: crafting, learning, teaching, sharing, giving, making, experiencing… finding another way… working it out… and so on.
All these, for me, are highly political things to do too. Live Art and contemporary performance have a rich history of this kind of thinking and doing.
"DIY" might suggest isolationist positions but this is a simplistic (mis)understanding. The majority of everything I do as an artist or teacher is with others... directly (as in my relationship to my collaborators in Bootworks) or tacitly (as a teacher in HE). My books are an attempt to make sense of nearly 20 years of doing it ‘myself’, and helping others to do the same. They, also, give space to a range of Art makers and doers (emerging and established) to share, articulate, and promote their practices. In Bootworks, we embrace a sense of partnership with our audiences, with much of our work built around structures for co-authorship, interaction and participation. As a teacher - despite my role as 'authority' and leader - I'm often making and learning with my students... or at least helping them to make and learn.
DIY is - for me - about independence. The joy and reward of doing it with my own hands, for better or worse, and the physical feeling of having crafted and made something, from kit or from scratch. Books are still the most crucial places in which I learn to do things myself. They are almost always more reliable than the Internet (but the Internet is also good… just saying).
The unread/read ratio of my own book collection is about 60/40. I just keep getting them... adding them to the pile... admiring them. I have a bit of a fetish. Of the 40% read, most are re-read, and routinely referred to and used. These are my favourite kinds of books: ones you can use. Not as a doorstop (sometimes as a doorstop)... but as a teacher, and maker: to feed, instruct, inspire, stimulate… and sometimes as evidence, reason, purpose, context and to better understand what has come before, and what is yet to come.
Therefore my focus, as this month’s guest editor is on books that share practice and promote making: books and editions that try to articulate practice, and some artist-made books. Most index DIY, some don’t, but elaborate or underpin some of the work I do. Books by people that “DIY”, books that helps others “DIY”, and books that are (have been) “DIY”. I’ll only promote the ones I actually have too… without a doubt there are many on Unbound that are great, but I’ve not seen or got yet… but seeing as my own work is rooted in contemporary theatre/performance and that’s still an under-represented area in book form, I’ll also give a little focus to the companies, artists and collectives like my own, currently stocked on Unbound."
PLAYING UP: A Live Art Game for Kids and Adults
£9 / Original Price £12
Without a doubt one of the most important resources available for Live Art and young people IN THE WORLD. This edition should be a continued resource, updated and added to. I only actually got it just because I missed out on getting a coveted copy of LADA’s The Performance Pack… which I’m still searching for… but when I unwrapped and read it I realised I’d accidentally bought my favourite resource of last year. Expansion packs LADA?
The Many Headed Monster
£26.25 / Original Price £35
A great resource. Some more books coming out/already out on space/site/audience contexts, but none as performative, and as well designed and packaged as this.
Richard Dedomenici Is Still An Artist
£3.75 / Original Price £5
I must recommend this little beauty of a book. I didn’t actually get it from Unbound, I found it in a (particular Bristol gallery) shop. I’m always on the lookout for little books like this (see Sheila Ghelani’s book also listed below) and think they’re just the best thing. I like this one in particular because it’s playful, interesting, and simple, just like Richard ;) x
Gob Squad, Do It Yourself
£18.75 / Original Price £25
Because you should… always. This DVD is a really well designed and packaged filmed workshop of their general practice. I thought before I watched it that I would get insight into the genius of their work… because they are without a doubt one of my absolute favourite collectives… what I got was something grounded in simplicity and a play-through of some (for me) very ‘usual’ exercises. I like them more for demystifying themselves.
Gob Squad and the Impossible Attempt to Make Sense of it All
£8.25 / Original Price £11
Lovely binding. Delicate. Great design. A little repetitive, but that’s kind of the point: well-known works are brought up and discussed through the book and you notice little changes each time as it continues… as if repeating the story over and over makes them tell it better. It does. What a lovely book.
The Making of a Memory
£9.75 / Original Price £13
I love the fact that this book allows and incorporates reflections and recalled memories that might not be actually true… I like Gob Squad, OK? They’re fucking heroes.
A Choreographer's Handbook
£14.24 / Original Price £18.99
I’m always reminding myself (and my students) of Burrows’ confession that the worst piece he made was when he tried too hard to make a piece of ‘experimental dance’, and ended up “making a piece about making a piece”. I feel you, Jonathan…. too often.
A Mis-Guide to Anywhere
Eds. Wrights and Sites
£7.50 / Original Price £10
THE template for making site specific/responsive/generic (whatever your site relationship/connection) work. When I talk about wanting books I can ‘use’, I mean ones like this especially.
A Sardine Street Box of Tricks
Crab Man and Signpost
£5.63 / Original Price £7.50
This book was the template for our 30 days to Edinburgh project. A perfectly simple and frank account of working with/in “the street”. Phil Smith writes in such a way that makes acute, obtuse theory seem completely easy to understand. This book breaks things down for the maker in clearly understood ways, weaving anecdote, and personal experience with argument and critical insight. A writer that knows what he’s on about not because he’s read all the books, but because he’s got the bloody t-shirt.
Rambles with Nature
Eds Sheila Ghelani and Divya Ghelani
£7.50 / Original Price £10
This is a gorgeous little book. A performance in literary form. An example of a self-made book that is just as carefully crafted, and brilliantly written/devised, as the work they make.
Forest Fringe: The First Ten Years
£10.50 / Original Price £14
What should be stocked is Forest’s Paper Stages books… but this will more than do… Forest are hugely important to me and Bootworks, as they were (are) the only place that could give our niche work space at the EdFringe. Artist-led, and not-just-for-artists, they blaze trails - still - for independent/alternative work to exist and thrive at the biggest arts market in the world.
£20.99 / Original Price £27.99
Why is this book still relevant? It’s like 20 years old for Christ’s sake! Well, it IS still relevant. And so are Forced Entertainment… completely essential reading. When this book came out I was an undergrad, and there was literally only Oddey’s “Devising Theatre” book that gave an account of making (devised theatre). Not a single word or point in Certain Fragments feels out of date (whereas Oddey’s book… need I say more!). This book will last forever. I hope. A fucking BIBLE for students of theatre and performance making.
Exercises for Rebel Artists
Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes
£14.99 / Original Price £19.99
Near the end there’s a list of ‘rules’, one of them goes something like: “respect and revere your elders, then kill them ritualistically”… need I say more? From what I learned as a student about his practice and works, I expected Gomez-Pena to be an uber-radical, flamboyant and aggressive artist. When I met him, he was soft-voiced, generous with his time and thought, completely absorbing, and beautifully kind. This book is about as generous as you can get when it comes to sharing your practice.
Good Luck Everybody: Lone Twin
Eds. David Williams and Carl Lavery
£25.13 / Original Price £33.50
“If you can’t say what you’re doing in one sentence, then you shouldn’t do it.” So they say. Or something like that. If only more artists tried this mantra. A superb account and ‘theorising’ of one of the best art-duo’s in the UK. If only we all had people like Carl Lavery and David Williams writing about us… or just Carl and David (absolutely stunning academics!). Exceptionally lucid and rigorous writing… perfectly easy on the eyes too.
All Work and No Plays: Blueprints for Nine Theatre Performances by Ontroerend Goed
£15 / Original Price £20
This is surely the best current template for articulating and ‘scripting’ contemporary devised performance out there: their work always feels ‘young’ (and while the company generally are, the directors, I know, are not)… and in that sense of ‘youth’ one feels something beautiful. The kind of spirit only young work and artists can have: raw, honest, precarious, idealistic, and bombastic. Bloody glorious. This book gives ‘ingredients’, ‘recipe’ and script for all their work to date. And it is absolutely fascinating.
Action Plans: Selected Performance Pieces
£11.24 / Original Price £14.99
Seeing their work in ‘script’ form is weird. So much of what Gemma and James do - for me - is purely about the ‘event’ experience and liveness. I LOVE watching them perform. Their ideas are super-fucking-cool, and I like their process too. Seeing them play with the format of how their work can be documented and presented in such a holistic and practical way is completely brilliant.
The Forest and the Field
£11.24 / Original Price £14.99
Chris’ book came out just after mine. I remember trying to make a spat about Peter Brook’s Empty Space, but never really having the balls - or vocabulary - to properly break it down. Then I read his SUPERB deconstruction… and I just wanted to have his literary babies… lovely writing. His podcast should be on your iThingy too.
£7.50 / Original Price £10
Basically, if you don’t own this, you should. Period. It’s full of tasks and practical insight. And if you’re one of the lucky few people who actually have a copy of Schoolbook 1 I will literally do ANYTHING you want for it.
Here's to another 10
£5.24 / Original Price £6.99
LOW PROFILE are great. This book is great. Seriously. This is a great example of how (and why) indie sector makers should document and articulate their body of work. LOW PROFILE are also brilliant makers and people. A great example of artists who didn’t have to suck London’s cock in order to make it. Their individual and collective practice is diverse and difficult to label, but I’ll always look to them as examples of artists that holistically empower, serve and drive their local community, and relationship to the public. I’ve said ‘great’ a lot. I feel like I’m writing a Donald Trump speech. Not that his speeches are ‘written’. More like a crayon spewed up by a cat.
£13.49 / Original Price £17.99
A simple and original way to document and articulate practice, and one’s work. The different page types, paper stock, and non linear arrangement: it satisfies all my artist-book desires. They’re a great company, with some epically beautiful work. It’s great that the design allows them to speak about and articulate their work in multiple perspectives, keeping the vocabularies and languages neat, while letting them overlap, literally.
Perform Every Day
£9 / Original Price £12
I love/hate this book. A massive tome considering its physical content, with lots of empty space… but I think that’s the point. Superbly simple, and accessible. If Keri Smith wrote a book on Live Art, it would probably be something like this.
The Dust Archive
Alexander Kelly and Annie Lloyd
£11.25 / Original Price £15
What a wonderfully perfect book/idea this is. Its premise and concept is so gloriously simple, and its result so perfectly succinct and cogent. You know that cliché rule in theatre making: “don’t just say it, show it”… this is a book that does just that.
and if you’re rich enough, go buy ALL of Forced Entertainment’s, Gob Squad’s, and Blast Theory’s DVDs.
Finally though… simply because they’re FREE - FREE GODDAMMIT:
The Free University of Liverpool
Splat! The Adventures of Little Bitch: Part One
The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein and Alethea Raban
We are introducing a series of guest editors for our Unbound Newsletters. Each editor will write about how titles we stock on Unbound have informed, inspired and shaped their creative practice and select titles on artists that have specifically influenced them. These titles will be offered at a discount for that month.
Andrea Pagnes, artist, performer and writer at VestAndPage (with Verena Stenke), and founder of the Live Art exhibition project Venice International Performance Art Week (VIPAW) has chosen 14 titles which offer an insight into some of the artists that have participated live and/or exhibited in the three editions of VIPAW. These exclusive and related publications are an address to all those who wish to know more about the art and life of these incredible artists.
"When I perform, I usually search for my inner silence. I balance the images passing through my mind and try that rhythm in action when I write about performance. However, after reading books on performance art by other authors, essays, and monographs on artists which are so dear to me and inspirational for my work, I feel that those words, photos and sketches accompany me in the experience of living in slow motion, while the world outside speeds without stopping. I see a page of a book as the access key to know more, in depth, and understand different things and perspectives – a place at the edge of the quotidian, right there to host me, when I am at a crucial point in my life, looking for that “which" to start again. I think it's always wise to feel part of a place, a subject, a part of a present, which is already past but renewed when it is acknowledged. This is also such stuff as books are made on." Andrea Pagnes, February 2017
Read Andrea's thoughts on each title below.
Stelarc A Monograph
Ed. Marquard Smith
£14.96 / Original Price £19.95
Suspensions, robotic research, obsolescence of the human body. Still the most comprehensive tool to acquaint the exceptional artistic path of one of the most experimental performance art masters ever.
Bas Jan Ader: Death is Elsewhere
£14.62 / Original Price £19.50
"Have you heard of happiness, springing from a deep well of sorrow? Of love, springing from pain and despondency, agony and death? Such is mine." (BJA)
Alexander Dumbadze, with his engaging, compelling style of art writing delivers a complete insight navigating across the romantic aura and the refined conceptualism of one of the most sensitive artists of our time.
Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey
Ed. Dominic Johnson
£10 / Original Price £22.50
Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance
Ron Athey (DVD)
£12 / Original Price £16
'Volo ut sis', said St. Augustine about love and therefore existence: 'I want you to be who you are'. Without trying to change you and not trying to change me to please you.
These two outstanding titles are “a must have” to understand in depth Ron Athey, both the man and the artist, crystalline in his courage, ideas, and beliefs which he has always professed in his art without compromise.
I Still Love
£26.25 / Original Price £35
Curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti at PAC (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea of Milan), this is the catalogue raisonné of the first exhibition dedicated to Franko in an Italian public exhibition space. Looking at his works, I cannot help but think about a sentence of Jean Luc Nancy from his essay L’Intrus (2002): “To isolate death from life – not leaving each one intimately woven into the other, with each one intruding upon the other’s core (coeur) – this is what one must never do.” As Heraclitus put, here it is not just a matter of making the unbearable bearable, but that to love is also to live the other’s death, and dying the other’s life. And this is also the great lesson of Franko.
Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh
Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh,
£18.75 / Original Price £25
For all the ones that want to know why “You have to make art stronger than life so people can feel it” (TH) the exhaustive volume on the legendary Taiwanese master compiled by Adrian Heathfield gives you the reason.
ORLAN: A Hybrid Body of Artworks
Simon Donger with Simon Shepherd and ORLAN,
£17.99 / Original Price £23.99
A book of a different kind that contains a series of texts collected in an apparent unruly way, but for this, however is rigorous and mostly passionate. The fascinating analysis of ORLAN’s seminal practice is rendered through exciting ideas that overlap and help us to explore and dissect her complex universe.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Conversations Across Borders
Ed. Laura Levin
£21 / Original Price £28
Homo Fronterizus: Recent performance video works, 2008-2011
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (DVD)
£16.88 / Original Price £22.50
Guillermo is one of the brightest thinker, vate, activist and performer of our contemporaneity. His words are profound, humorous, poetic, uncompromised, rhythmic, and mercilessly truthful. His performances are hymns to life and a call to keep position against hypocrisy and injustice.
Exercises for Rebel Artists
Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes,
£14.99 / Original Price £19.99
Anytime we give a performance art workshop, we offer this book to read to our participants.
Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability
Eds. Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell
£13.13 / Original Price £17.50
Then one day we find out not to be perfect, to fight against a disease, to grow up and grow old differently. The performer is not an actor. S/he doesn’t interpret nor represent but purely s/he puts her/himself face to face with the other. Author of his every action and very own thought, s/he’s authentic and sincere for s/he always acts only him/herself. Poetry, courage and beauty often occur more readily in difficult places, in segregated bodies made silent from pain, becoming expression of a deeper self. Transforming the terrible into the sublime or more simply indicating if as a quality of the real, the performer questions and makes us think upon existence, to reconcile us with life through art.
Hold It Against Me
£12.74 / Original Price £16.99
Finally an authorial fierce book unpacking the importance of feelings and emotions in contemporary art and performance, which the too arid conceptual (male) driven art discourses have purposely avoided for decades.
The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art
£16.49 / Original Price £21.99
How to question and tell of performance art?
Dominic Johnson’s skill and sensibility in asking penetrating questions to 12 performers on their own practice, how to introduce them precisely to the reader with a poignant overview on their works, makes of this book also an instrument for anyone who wish to learn or refined how to approach write and narrate of performance matters.
£7.50 / Original Price £10
A volume that contains some of the most beautiful performances images ever taken, born from the dedicated collaboration between Manuel Vason, artist and photo-performer, and several performance artists. Still hard to choose which is my favourite picture.
Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage)
Credits: Katy Baird, Alex Eisenberg and Drew Cole. A LADA Production (2016)
25% discount on all books and DVDs in the Unbound Seasonal Sale. Pick up the perfect Christmas present for your Live Art loved ones, or treat yourself this winter.
Last orders for UK delivery before Christmas must be placed by Midday on Monday 19 December. Delivery dispatches start again on Thursday 5 January. No deliveries will be dispatched between Midday Monday 19 December and Thursday 5 January.
Sale ends Saturday 14 January.
The Performing Urgency series entangles both the arts and wider societal issues, resulting in its publications becoming key books when discussing the position of artistic practice within an extremely volatile and ever changing cultural and political landscape.
Turn, Turtle! Reenacting The Institute is the newest addition to the series coming at a time where the British public are still nursing their Brexit hangover and working to comprehend the severe attitudes of uncertainty and doubt within existing power structures. These worries obviously seep into the artistic sphere where ‘public funding of social, educational, scientific, and cultural institutions is under pressure due to state cuts and privatisation’.
Turn, Turtle! is comprised of six essays, three interviews, and six case studies of performance makers, institution directors, and thinkers. The book itself is broken into five parts, which cover a plethora of current economic issues and cultural concerns whilst also offering insightful solutions in engagement and reassignment of cultural power structures.
With the current mood of frustration with governing structures in the arts, the role of the institution is a topic which will arise in conversation more frequently than we all would like to admit. It is for this reason that this book is an invaluable resource in giving even the newest of arts readers an informative rethinking of the ‘functioning, position, and decision-taking structure of the organisations’ within the performing arts community.
Written by Drew Cole
Resources and Online Development Placement.
"Pleading in the Blood is essential reading for scholars of religion working at the intersection of ritual, performance, and contemporary art practices, as well as those with interest in abjection, gender and sexuality, the AIDS crisis, charismatic Christianity, and the construction of religious identity."Read the full review.
To mark the extraordinary SACRED:Homelands festival of international performance taking place at Toynbee Studios from 23 to 27 November 2016, we have invited the festival’s curator Nikki Milican to create a collection for Unbound. SACRED:Homelands features UK premiere performances, durational/installation works and in depth conversations with artists travelling from Tonga, India, Canada, New Zealand, as well as Europe. In times of grave social and environmental injustices caused by war, pestilence and climate change that create so much upheaval of communities across the globe, the artists responded to SACRED:Homelands' invitation to make a “homeland” for a week in the East End of London, to gather, to share their lived experiences and what is sacred to all of us through storytelling and conversation.
Nikki Milican is the former Artistic Director of New Moves International, producers of New Territories and The National Review of Live Art (NRLA), the UK's most significant and influential festival of performance that ran from 1979-2010.
My choice of books reflect the concerns that arise in a curated programme such as SACRED:Homelands. I no longer read books on the history of live/performance art, as there have been quite enough of those. Generally speaking I will always choose a book written by an artist rather than an academic, as a strong artist's voice can, for me, be far more affecting as a form of protest and change (yes, some academics are artists, and some artists are academics - it’s interesting how the language becomes more obtuse).
The Art of Being Many - Towards a New Theory and Practice of Gathering
The performative art of gathering was something the NRLA did pretty well, especially in the audience’s queuing for shows. Had NRLA lived beyond its 30 years I would like to think the power of such a creatively and politically engaged assembly would continue to have a subversive impact on its constituency.
Small Acts of Repair: Performance, Ecology and Goat Island
I first brought Goat Island to the UK in 1988 when the group was Lin Hixson and Mathew Goulish and brothers Timothy and Greg McCain. The physicality of that first piece still remains a vivid memory. However, it is not for sentimental reasons I choose this book, I could also have opted for Schoolbook 2, because what remains so durable about their practice is their generosity of spirit in sharing it with so many. They are brilliant teachers and what better place to change the mindset of young people but to bring a radical edge to the classroom in their pursuit of the impossible.
Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba
Overt political voices have been subject to censorship in Cuba but as with countries like Chile, the more daring of the performance/street theatre artists have a habit of popping up in unexpected places and hold great appeal for those who feel they have little power to change things and are fearful of offering dissent.
Not Just a Mirror: Looking for the Political Theatre of Today
I was more fascinated by the publishers of this book. Called House On Fire, it is a network of ten festivals and theatres across Europe whose policy is to programme and co-produce work based on “the conviction that the arts have an essential role to play both in the communication between people and in the development of thought and debate about problems and challenges that our societies and the world are facing”. If I’d thought theatre had lost its political engagement a quick look through HoF’s list of Artist Creations and Thematic Events makes me wish I was still curating New Territories because we are not seeing enough of it here.
Exhausting Dance: Performance and the politics of movement
I ran a dance festival but was never a big fan of dance in the ways it was often depicted in the UK in the 90s. Thankfully I came across (then) radical artists like Truus Bronkhorst, Maria Voortman and later, La Ribot, Jérôme Bel, Raimund Hogue, Didier Theron, Xavier Le Roy etc., whose work helped create a festival that was a little more left field. It was work that encroached on areas of performance and visual art; this book explores these crossovers.
Museum of Water
I loved this interactive installation in Somerset House and this is a lovely documentation of two years of work gathering together a beautiful collection of public donated water samples, all of which had personal stories attached. As a resource we take for granted daily it was also a poignant reminder of how precious water is in many parts the world.
Turn, Turtle! Reenacting The Institute
At a time of European institutional crises can it be a symbolic moment for artists to reclaim the arts space. Always better to attack from within in my view.
Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered
A handbook for artists and activists, in fact for anyone wishing to harness their creativity to actuate change in the world. Perhaps a theme is developing here in this list - an urge for artists to reimagine our world at a time of upheaval and uncertainty. Lucy Neal gives a voice to over 60 artists and activists who break society’s rules and question our accepted value system.
Shoot An Iraqi, Art, Life and Resistance Under The Gun
Wafaa Bilal tells of a very personal and harrowing experience of the war in Iraq and his artistic response to it in his unsettling interactive performance piece Domestic Tension and the global public reaction to it, "one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time," Chicago Tribune. There is a growing grassroots movement addressing issues affecting communities due to climate change, economic hardship, wars and disease. SACRED:Homelands will introduce artists whose similar concerns are ubiquitous in their work.
Bobby Baker is a female performance artist who for a number of years has translated her personal life experiences into outside performances and other intimate works of art. All of Bobby's DVD's are on sale for £15 each, or you can buy the whole set for £120.
For the Live Art Development Agency's (LADA) next LADA Screens launch event on 10 October we will be showing Uncertain Fragments, a video essay reflecting on the work of Forced Entertainment, created by Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells.
To complement this event we have collated a small selection of titles on and by Forced Entertainment, Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning to browse:
Anne Bean, Holding Infinity in the Palm of my Hand. Photo: Marketa Luscacova
Anne Bean is a Patron of the Live Art Development Agency. In this Blog entry, she outlines her Patron’s Picks from Unbound.
To view all of our Patron's Picks follow the link here.
I was overwhelmed by possible picks of fantastic books and DVDs by friends and comrades. This made me decide to physically browse the Unbound store at LADA’s office in Hackney Wick, London, to find lurking presences that caught me and which I knew little or nothing about.
With the clamour of words on book spines, I pulled out one with a hardly-decipherable title in tiny pale letters, hiding in shiny cellophane. On top of an embedded acupuncture needle I read ‘Pain in Soul: Performance Art and Video Works by He Cheng Yao.’ I arbitrarily opened it and read "Quoting Beuys’ words 'art heals all wounds', He Chengyao reminds us how art can be experienced as a state of limbo … saving unconventional behaviour from the label of insanity that is often applied so readily." Her powerful images of ‘Homeless Mental Patients’ and ‘Families with Mental Illness’ are viewed with shifted awareness, through us recognising her identification with them and her own work manifestations.
Another ‘soul’ book, also dealing in social strangulation and pain, is ‘The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy,’ by Franco “Bifo” Berardi. The book speaks of a new alienation of people caught up in ‘voluntary’ overtime, ‘tethered to cell phones and Blackberries, debt has become a postmodern form of slavery, and antidepressants are commonly used to meet the unending pressure of production.’ Berardi calls for alternative lifestyles that cannot be commodified and if we collectively rethink the true meaning of the word “wealth,” in terms of human collaboration, then ‘the competitive illusion that is impoverishing everyone’s life, the very foundations of capitalism, would start to crumble.’ Soul is recognised as affinity.
Another ’hidden’ book with a black on black title is Giovanna Maria Casetta’s ‘Looking Good.’ It explores the fragility between identity and lived reality, right down to a visceral alienation from her own body: ‘Firstly, my smell had altered, I do not smell like me ... I don’t smell right, so I can’t engage with me.’
Fred Moten’s book ‘In the Break, The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition’ drew me in when I read, ‘F M argues that all black performance -- culture, politics, sexuality, identity and blackness itself -- is improvisation’ … the complex relationships between sound and resistance in the collective life of commodified human beings. I remember him speaking elsewhere about Sam Cooke’s ‘You Send Me,’ saying ‘to be sent, to be transported out of yourself, it’s an ecstatic experience … by the time you get to work that shit out as well as it should be worked out, we’re sent by one another to one another until one and another don’t signify anymore.’
Watching the DVD ‘No Such Thing as Rest: A Walk with Brian Massumi,’ the words and the walking and my thoughts merged: ‘rhythms of language… paces and pulses of ideas… bringing the thinking that is the doing into language… philosophy is the activity of running thought experiments… the mundane is full of events… modes of complicity … imagining and constructing qualitative alter-economies is a major task of our time and its task can only be done collectively… micro-political movements always succeed, they feed potential forward unto the iterative event-fabric of life… experiment with techniques enabling people to reconnect with relational fields that yield enhanced intensity.’
Finally, I was surprised and pleased to find ‘The Act of Killing’ by Joshua Oppenheimer - a pungent documentary that has stirred me more than any I can remember, with fact and fiction colliding and fusing, disturbing the fabric of one’s body and chilling the mind. It made me think of another disturbing work by Omer Fast, ‘Spielberg's List’, a documentary in which actors from Krakow conflated the Hollywood version of the Holocaust with historical reality.
I recommend browsing.