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Inbetween Time 2006

february 1-5 2006


 Da Contents H2

February 3 2006
Duncan Speakman: Echo Location
Osunwunmi

Gob Squad: Managing fear
Winnie Love

Gob Squad: What does it mean to be a Vampire?
Niki Russell at the Gob Squad lecture

John Gillies: A Geography of Longing and Belonging
Marie-Anne Mancio

John Gillies: Old land, new testament
Ruth Holdsworth

Rosie Dennis: One from the heart
Winnie Love in the Rosie Dennis loop

Uninvited Guests: The art of wounding
Marie-Anne Mancio faces up to Univited Guests

February 2 2006
AC Dickson: Rising up to the challenge of his rivals
Niki Russell on eBay selling as performance

Bodies in Flight: And the word was made flesh
Osunwunmi

Carolyn Wright: Conversational miscues
When Winnie Love met Carolyn Wright

Carolyn Wright: Pleased to meet you, again
Niki Russell

David Weber-Krebs: Beyond waiting
Winnie Love

David Weber-Krebs: More than it says it is…
Ruth Holdsworth

David Weber-Krebs: Risk realised
Virginia Baxter

 

Deborah Pollard: The art of sleeping

Marie-Anne Mancioon repose as installation

Marie-Anne Mancio has a doctorate in Live Art. She lectures for Tate Modern’s online contemporary art course; is an associate member of independent creative producer Jean Cameron’s arts practice; and is currently studying for an M Litt in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

Deborah Pollard, Shapes of Sleep Deborah Pollard, Shapes of Sleep
photo Dobrilla Stamenkovic
Representations of sleep in Western culture tend to emphasise its proximity to death (consider Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty or the “sleeping sickness” investigated by Oliver Sacks and dramatised by Harold Pinter in A Kind of Alaska). Deborah Pollard focuses instead on sleep as an activity. Over a period of 8 hours—the length of a typical night’s sleep—5 performers in nightwear lie on individual beds listening to recorded voices: “Put both hands on your neck.... Turn to the right.....Sit bolt upright...” There is a nice comic moment when the performers are directed to mutter: “No, it doesn’t matter. None of it matters anymore.” These simple instructions relate to video documentation of sleepers (the original footage appears on a miniature bed in the space). The movements appear to derive from a restless night in a hot climate. We can make out individual voices and sounds of birdsong, a cockerel’s faint crow, playing on a loop. On the far wall is a row of little embroidered pillows decorated with video stills.

Other artists have explored the process of filming themselves in certain states then recreating their actions in performance (the Wooster Group did it with drugs, Forced Entertainment with alcohol). The fascination is the same: what do we look like when we lose control? Some viewers are drawn to the back of the space, walking between the beds, looking down on the sleepers. A man stands too close to the dark-haired girl’s bed; I suddenly realise how vulnerable she is (not surprising that Cornelia Parker’s 1995 The Maybe installation placed sleeping Tilda Swinton in a glass case). Other viewers relax into the work, noticing how each performer interprets the same instructions slightly differently. I look for signs of tiredness or cunning (someone anticipating a command in order to gain as much time as possible in one position). If Shapes of Sleep were an hour long, it might appear choreographed, but as a durational installation over 8 hours the performers are no longer just performing sleep, they are physically exhausted by it. It’s a witty reversal of the notion of sleep as something that revives. Since the performers have their eyes closed throughout, it’s not surprising that one of them drifts off for a few minutes. I become infected by the hypnotic repetition, start to yawn, not out of boredom but tiredness.

Shapes of Sleep was conceived for a white space like the airy mezzanine of Glasgow’s Tramway where I first saw it. I agree with Deborah Pollard that in the Dark Studio at Arnolfini the work looks “more theatrical” (the connection between sleep and darkness is too obvious; the minute white pillows more blatant.) Nevertheless, the peculiar beauty of this work is undiminished. The soft light throws shadows on silk pyjamas; arms and legs shift languidly. By the final hour, there is a haze to the space; it even smells of people sleeping. At the end of a hectic festival, I cannot imagine a more effective oasis of tranquillity.

Deborah Pollard trained in the Suzuki Actor Training Method, has collaborated with Indonesian performance and installation artists, and was Artistic Director of Salamanca Theatre Company in Hobart, Tasmania, 1997-2000.


Shapes of Sleep, Deborah Pollard, Arnolfini Dark Studio, Feb 5

Marie-Anne Mancio has a doctorate in Live Art. She lectures for Tate Modern’s online contemporary art course; is an associate member of independent creative producer Jean Cameron’s arts practice; and is currently studying for an M Litt in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

RealTime issue #72 April-May 2006

© Marie-Anne Mancio; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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