Bloody Rosa – Part 1

site-specific 5-hour durational performance

performed as part of the concert Silent Histories at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge 2008 in collaboration with Tom Hall, Richard Hoadley, Kevin Flanagan and Paul Rhys

Bloody Rosa – Part 1 is the first performance in a series of interventions playfully exploring my relationship with one of my heroines Rosa Luxemburg

 

The performance begins with me sitting at a table, dressed in an earth-coloured dress that feels like it has been worn for centuries. My hair is pinned up, my feet bare. In front of me on the protectively covered table, are ten neatly stacked boxes, two egg-cups, three pencils, a pencil sharpener, a black pen, a table sized easel with an opened book on it, a jug of water and a glass. I open one of the boxes, take one of the eggs it contains out and place it into one of the egg-cups. With my right hand I pick up one of the sharpened pencils, whilst my left secures the egg safely in its position. My eyes go to the book to my left and I silently read the first sentence from the page. I write this onto the egg, starting at the tip and making my way around the fragile object in circles. The process is slow, as I have to negotiate the movement of the turning with the movement of the writing. At some point I have to take the egg into my left hand in order to avoid too much pressure on the shell. I seek support from the table surface for my right arm so as to steady my writing and alleviate the emerging tension in my muscles. The process of writing the sentences emerges as a slow journey of each word from the page onto the egg-shell, letter by letter. I start by reading the sentences and then transferring them to the egg. But it does not take long and the action has been cut down to reading part of each sentence and eventually only paying attention to one word at a time. The actual task emerges as laborious copying from a one-dimensional linear to a three-dimensional round surface. The anticipated discomfort in my wrist and hand caused by the continuous writing seems to have made way for an unexpected hurt in my back. I can feel my muscles tense increasingly as the minutes tick by and it is my fixation on the task that seems to ease the pain. I concentrate on this seemingly simple task, at times forgetting my surroundings. I do not take notice of the people around me. I do not make contact. I fear that I will loose my concentration, my focus, my determination to continue. So, I only allow myself the odd glance at those that make their way around me, pass me, observe me and my work; those that take their seats at the table, looking through the books they’ve picked from the small library, reading the odd article. I can hear conversations, mostly related to the paintings and sculptures around me. I do not hear anything referring directly to me or my action. No questions seem to be asked about what I am doing, why I am doing it here. No questions asked about my appearance, my labour or the objects involved. As I continue my work, I loose all sense of time. At points it feels like the minutes are endless, but then I realise that the constant stream of people decreases significantly. I assume that this means closing time is approaching, but I have only managed to copy 10 pages so far. I keep writing as it gets quieter and quieter around me. There is the tranquillity again, similar to the one at the beginning of the performance during the concert downstairs. I continue my labour until I am told that the house is now closed. I finish the egg I have in my hand before stopping. I place it neatly into the box with the others. There are now five open boxes of eggs on the table. All these eggs are marked with my handwriting. And there are still five closed boxes with eggs that have not been used. Three I give to Will, one I leave for the house and one I take myself. The performance ends with me gathering all my belongings and leaving the space. There are no visible traces of the work that lasted five hours. 

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