Practice as Research

Installations, as defined by Anne Ring Petersen, “1) activate space and context… 2) stretch the work in time, whereby its character becomes that of situation and process… (and) 3) have a phenomenological focus on the viewer’s bodily and subjective experience, and on the temporal aspect of reception” (2015, 41). A performative, Barbara Bolt states, “does not describe anything.  It does things in the world.” It may be “conventional and repetitive” according to Judith Butler, be a “singular unconventional act” as per Fischer-Lichte’s definition, or through “iterability… produce movement and transformation… différance” following Derrida (Bolt 2008, 5). According to Bolt, a performative “bring(s) into the world what it names” (1). The performative has the capacity to make visible states of invisibility and that which is invisible—the other, their containment, the laboring of bringing things into being and their unbecoming.

In this project, methods include gathering published historic and contemporary documents that produce conditions of othering, displacement, containment, hiding and erasure such as written accounts and memoirs of those impacted by these orders; (real and fake) news articles; maps, plans, and drawings; as well as photographs of places of detention or internment. When it is possible for me to visit historic sites, I gather or generate original site documentation through photography, sound and/or video recording; many of the contemporary sites—airport questioning rooms and offshore detention centers—are intended by government authorities to be inaccessible and unseen; news articles offer glimpses into these spaces. All of these forms of raw data I employ to generate architectural drawings, diagrams or maps of spaces of internment. These, as well as gathered texts and images, are edited—through processes such as redacting (blackening or whiting out) or erasing and eradicating (with a razor, eraser, or fluid solvents), or retracing—as live and video documented performances and/or as artefacts. Through these processes, I tease out performative actions or labours, of othering, displacement, containment, hiding and erasure.

In accordance with Rancière’s position on democracy and education (Rancière and Elliott 2009), I invite others to join me in performing tasks, to read aloud and engage in conversational exchanges about project-related issues while working. This is modelled after collective worker self-education activities (Rose 2001), as well as those of barn raising and sewing bees. I will invite the public to participate in reading, editing and articulating activities, which will occur through public salons that I anticipate holding in partnership with universities and public libraries or other organizations.

In addition to scalar work such as drawings or models, choreographies of labour are central to by practice. This entails live and embodied explorations at full scale, either improvised or scored in advance, of assembling and disassembling spaces. Such practices subvert the singular author, demand seeing and hearing others as well as space, and celebrate processes of spatial ideas, performatively, coming into being, and un-becoming.

The diverse sites researched, forms of labor and invisibility will inform the temporal structure, labours performed, and spatial transformation, and performative text that comprise the installation.

(24 April, 2017)