Self-Sign: The Artist as Material

Arts Promotion Center Finland, (1 week course & ongoing mentoring), 2013
Norwegian Theatre Academy, Fredrikstad (3 week course), 2010, 2012, 2013
Norwegian Theatre Academy, Fredrikstad (2 week course), 2007
Tate Modern, London (2 day intensive), 2004
Turku Academy, Finland (1 week course), 2000

In this workshop we will think about how ‘self’ can be used as the material for performance. We will consider the possibilities of the diary, the confessional, the autobiography, the self-portrait, the signature, and the trademark, in an attempt to configure what is constituted by the ‘I’ in performance practice.

After an introduction to the use of performance in non-acting based artworks (especially live and performance art) emphasis will be on devising and employing practical strategies for making playful autobiographic performances.

[Please bring two photographs of yourself from your family album: one when you were a child and one more recent. Please also bring one additional personal possession that has some relevance or importance to you.]

Recommended Reading:

For those of you who are not familiar with modes of performance that are non-acting based you might find the following text of interest:

• Michael Kirby, ‘Acting and Not-Acting’ in The Drama Review Vol.16 No.1 March 1972, reprinted as Chapter 1 of A Formalist Theatre (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987)

As an interesting starting point for thinking about how we might perform an ‘I’ the following short text on diary and journal writing is excellent:

• Roland Barthes, ‘Environs of the Image – Deliberation’ in The Rustle of Language (California: University of California Press, 1984) p.359

I remember…
by Marthe Sofie Løkeland Eide (with acknowledgement to Joe Brainard)
December 2012

I remember sitting in a circle with Karmenlara and Joshua and having lots of expectations.
I remember the release after the striptease when all of us were outside in the dark and Jade was in his gold dress.
I remember thinking that making people strip is a freakin’ good team-building exercise.
I remember Anders’ creepy and sad version of the dream of running your own hostel in the Italian countryside.
I remember the happy and surprised faces when we were told we would have the possibility to wear normal clothing for three weeks.
I remember being silently mad at the idea that we had to fix the post-its up on the wall, as if they needed to be fixed.
I remember Joshua’s face when David, without hesitation, told him he had an annoying voice. And I remember that when David was reflecting on his performance, Joshua felt the need to correct him and wanted it clear that David had not said ‘really annoying’, just ‘annoying’.
I remember Laerke’s fuck-off attitude when she embodied a member of Pussy Riot.
I remember David and my frustration at not having an idea when we coupled up and then searching for anything in the costume room to give us some kick-ass inspiration, and that we did not find anything.
I remember drinking the husk and that it actually almost made me puke.
I remember Joshua singing ‘All by myself’ into the microphone but that the rest of the class were so into what they were doing that they did not notice.
I remember Jade forgetting to bring his personal object.
I remember looking at Jade’s USB stick and thinking how much a random object can represent something so powerful.
I remember pouring food onto David’s naked body.
I remember not smoking.
I remember the feather David randomly picked up and danced with in his striptease.
I remember not knowing whether to be proud or embarrassed when people came up to me and said, “I have been into the Blue Room. I saw the pictures.”
I remember the colour of my face when Marie walked in on me when I was rehearsing my striptease in the women’s dressing room.
I remember the bubbly feeling in my stomach as got an exercise I couldn’t wait to get started with.
I remember wanting to flee and run home when we were given the striptease exercise.
I remember being jealous of Ida for getting only good photographs.
I remember Heiki asking Anders if he could call him his “boyfriend” and Anders’ slightly embarrassed red-faced, “yes”.
I remember thinking it is good that none of us has the ambition to become a comedian.
I remember the extra audience in the window in the block next to us, hoping and anticipating some action.
I remember them giving up.
I remember not giving myself permission to laugh when Per Magnus was giving a prayer.
I remember the clock passing ‘5’ and that I honestly did not care.
I remember Heiki’s honest nervousness.
I remember none of us really wanting to make a performance for the rest of the school.
I remember thinking after the clothes swapping exercise that I had no idea where this workshop would take us.
I remember how afraid, nervous and childlike excited I was to try the microphone.
I remember showing my Dad and my siblings the Blue Room and how awkward I felt when I remembered I had forgotten about Jade’s self-portrait.
I remember the release in our faces when we were finished with a tough exercise.
I remember never knowing what to expect next.
I know I will remember this workshop for a long time.
I know I will send Joshua an email asking him to freshen my memory on some exercise I want to try out on some other poor souls.

Documentation from 2010 and 2012