St Andrews by-the-Sea, February 9th
We arrived in Saint Andrews in perfect weather. By 4:30 pm it was a snow storm; light snow and lots of it. Mathieu and I met the director of Sunbury Shores, Sharon McGladdery, set up for the evening performances, then settled in to our hotel.
I have been thinking about the element of work evident in each of our pieces. I am not referring solely to the creation and development of a performance but to the actions themselves: Mathieu’s hand-grinding of charcoal and trimming of wood, my fabric cutting, repetitive actions and hand signals. Yes, our labours can be entertaining as well as meaningful, also messy and sometimes troubling; this doesn’t change the physical work ethic evident in each piece. That work ethic has its own political awareness embedded within it. An awareness of our place within the circle of wood production in the province for example or a heightened awareness of the fragility of the natural world. Paying close attention in the intensity of this tour has brought layers of meaning/understanding to the surface.
The Q&A was very rich in Saint Andrews. An observant point was about my letter performance. The audience member suggested that it could be a letting go of the past before moving on with life...I had been focussing on the remembering of hand writing and of personal connection before the present digital culture. So yes, that view is now tucked into the performance’s meanings.
Saint John, February 10th
The new space for Third Space Tiers Espace is in the downtown core, shared with ArtsLink. It was the smallest space we have performed in yet, intimate.
Emily Saab is the Director and she helpfully set up the space for us. It was a good audience, the back row standing on their chairs to see our actions. Mathieu reprised the charcoal and tissue performance, and continued with the 2x4 work. The 2x4, as it becomes more carved out, has changed its tune so to speak. Mathieu plays it for sound and in Saint John, it sounded marvelous. I extended my chocolate tongue work building on the previous actions of revealing the embedded objects by placing them on my tongue. The thought floated up that I am glad I am past the stage of self-consciousness, of looking unattractive or silly, etc. The action needed is the action performed, vanity be damned.
Again, the Q&A was invigorating. One young woman’s comment about Mathieu’s charcoal work was a fresh perception suggesting the cleaning of his charcoal covered hands with the tissues, or the transfer of guilt to the tissues, charcoal being a polluter. Charcoal is also used to clean/filter, and write/communicate/make art. It was a perceptive observation.
As each evening of performance ends we both have realized that there is a need for more discussion/exchange in the arts, as evidenced by the enthusiasm of our audiences—and a need for the unconventional, and for art with meaning.