This week I invited Constance Humphries, the previous occupant of my studio here at Vane, to join me to discuss her practice. I was particularly interested to hear some more about her 'Seen/Unseen: Durational Performances' series of works.
The reasons for my interest in this work are clear; they were covert performances that are also documented in a covert way. We began our interaction with my interviewing Constance.
These are the questions I prepared for Constance, to give a better indication of what I was looking to learn:
Can you tell me a bit about your private performances? Are they performances if there is no audience? If someone appeared, would you stop or carry on? How did these actions feed into your subsequent work? Is it important these performances aren’t described in detail? You describe what they’re investigating but not what you did What made you start making work that can be seen? Do you ever think you’re watching another’s covert performance? Were the sites important? How did you select them? Would you ever lie about doing a performance when you didn’t? What were your strategies for remaining hidden?
I recorded the interview, and I think this recording is a valuable resource when considering the questions I am approaching in this residency. So I've decided to share it unedited here:
The interview raised a lot of new ideas for me around private performance and the ways in which that may be productive for the artist rather than for a notional audience, something I hadn't really considered thus far. We talked a little more about this and then I raised the possibility of trying out Constance's methodology myself.
My proposal was to do my own performance using the parameters Constance developed for her series of unseen performances. I would document my performance in the same way Constance did, and then send her this documentation. If we both felt this was productive, then we would investigate whether to take these interactions further.
So I asked Constance to go over with me how she would select sites for the performances, a process I will mimic:
I will follow these instructions and next week I will post a report on my own Unseen Durational Performance.