I am working to develop a new piece for a Rirkrit Tiravanija homage at The Glasshouse in November. This will be the first event that I’ve created to occur without my presence as either performance or facilitator. All supplies for the performance will be packed into a box and sent to Brooklyn. The box will not be opened until the time of the performance. The opening of the box indicates the beginning of the performance. Whoever is present at that moment will become the performers.
This is a good development for me, as I’ve spent much of the past year thinking about performance that does not involve the body of the performer. I hate to be watched, but I love live situations. I’m most interested in works that allow for anyone to engage without the cheesy, uncomfortable, and often forced element of Audience Participation. If I do not want to be watched, I can’t really coerce other people into being watched in my stead. (Well, I could, but.)
The challenge is not to create a piece that can entice and engage others, which I think I’ve done successfully in the past. The challenge is to make something that unfolds specifically enough to require no leader, much like the rules of any good board or card game. I am also very much inspired by Tiravanija’s flexibility in his own work: setting up his apartment as an installation for months at a time, for example, and just allowing whatever happens to happen. People ate, slept, hung out, bathed, got married, made messes, and much more: critically, all of this was acceptable in the context of the work. It was a provocation, not, perhaps, a situation.
I am pushing against the idea of working with food, which is strange because so much of my past work has involved food (as has so much of Tiravanija’s). I’m not sure why I’m experiencing this obstinacy, and whether I will work with or against my own impulse. I do know this: I think homage can be subtle, and I’d like to make it so. Especially in the era of reperformance, the creation of work that echoes previous work has become much more complicated and nuanced. What is homage in our time? What is the difference between homage and meme?