We Were Waiting for You is an experimentation with telepathic communication and was presented at FLARE 3 in Vane Gallery, Newcastle on 4th May 2017. The participating artists were: Denys Blacker, Mireia Zantop, Lesley Yendell, Sabina Vilagut, Marta Vergonyós, Natàlia Espinet, Victoria Gray, Helena Hunter. Photos by Arto Polus.
For the preparation of the performance, each participating artist (5 in Catalonia and 2 in the UK) selected six objects that were packed into cabin-size suitcases to take on the journey to Newcastle. What is in each suitcase is only known by the artist who packed it. The suitcases were later shown along side the photographic documentation at Bòlit Contemporary Art Centre (Girona) as part of the exhibition Denys Blacker – Mapes Efimers; a retrospective show.
We Were Waiting for You, presents the audience with the chance to become involved in a performance, in which relationships can unfold without coercion, by personal choice. Anyone who has a question to ask, may take their place as a silent supplicant or instigator within the process. Their question is written down, but not shown to the performance group. The performance then unfolds in response to this secret question, hidden from view until afterwards and only known to the person who asks it.
Artists without knowing the question, begin to respond through improvised movements and sounds and by taking out and using selected objects from their suitcases. The only rule is that they should not move at all unless they have a strong compulsion to move. It is not a choice, it is a sensation, an intuition. Sometimes all the artists interact, sometimes only a few. Only those who experience the need to participate, participate.
The questioning person sits at a table with a paper and pen to take notes and an artist from the group sits next to them. She will also write. They have to write down everything they observe, without thinking, responding only to what they see unfolding in the performance.
The role of the performance artist as protagonist is transformed by the fact that the content and meaningfulness is given to the work by another person’s vision, formed in the particular question chosen by that person. The questioner take notes, a circumstantial testimonial in a style of writing that, by nature of its immediacy comes close to automatic writing or a stream of consciousness response. A witness from the performance group makes notes as well, in order to record only what they see. This is later shared with the audience. The question is also shared at the end of the performance if the person who asked it, so wishes. The two texts are read aloud, and a discussion takes place between audience and participants, sharing observations and interpretations of the actions that occurred.
A synchronicity (on the way to Newcastle):
The morning we travelled to Newcastle, we were to meet at the station in Girona to pick up Marta and Sabina. But we had to go early and Marta came late so we went back towards home to pick her up at Celrà where she could leave her car in a free parking space. She needed to swap her suitcase for the silver case we were all using, so we took out the suitcases and began to repack it on the road. When we had finished and had loaded the suitcases back into the car, we were ready to go when we saw that Natàlia and Sabina were crouched over something on the floor. Sabina was closing both her hands around a hopping bird. I went towards her with Marta and saw that it was a swift that had become tangled in a nylon fishing line. Tangled in the line and pressed aginst the back of the live swift was the desiccated body of another bird. Sabina and Natàlia were trying to free it but the bird was struggling and scratching. I picked it up from the floor, pressing down its wings and unexpectedly it dug its extremely sharp claws into my finger drawing blood. Marta too tried to hold on to its tiny body and it dug it claws even deeper into her hand making her shout. With her free hand she grabbed Natàlia’s lighter which was on the floor by her bag, and bunt through the line. It was almost free but the line was tight round its neck and a wing. We were able to free one of its wings wing but the bird struggled loose and flew away. The dessicated skepeton of a bird wrapped in fishing line was left on the pavement. Marta and I compared our puncture wounds and watch the beads of blood ooze out.
We wondered whether the birds were both alive when they were caught in the line? How long had it taken for the decomposition of the dead bird? In the car, Sabina showed us some drawings she had made that day while waiting for us in Girona station, of a bird whose wings are drawn as two hands.