19 February 2010

Of Photography

Photo: Gabriel Harju

Of Photography is an audience-participatory performance which investigates the relationship between photographer, image and the image's subject matter.

This concept started as a reaction towards excessive photography of performances - or any event with some public 'photo-value'. In this piece, the general acceptance of and participation in documenting or recording of an event is isolated and turned into the performance itself.

Of Photography draws on life in a time of online social networking, mobile phones and digital cameras - where 'mediated' often equals or replaces 'first-hand' experience. Using our visual/social digital tools, our view seems infinite and with all the time spent on/with it, there is a sense of real engagement. However, this engagement or relation to the mediated does not involve touch, location, smell... nor direct responsibility towards what or who is at the other end.

In Of Photography, I aim to merge the mediated and the direct experience of the audience both visually and experientially by connecting photographing, the actual photograph and physical touching of a live subject. Maker, motif, observer and observed are blended together to possibly provide a situation where the audience may test... their own boundaries of those.

Premier at the Frankfurt Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Thur 29 April with a second performance Sat 1 May during the international live art festival Plateaux. Conceived by Sara Popowa and realised with co-production from Plateaux Festival and The Basement, Brighton, UK.

From the Plateaux festival programme:

Eine Performerin setzt sich einem weißen Raum aus, einem Publikum, einem Blick, einer Kamera. In „Of Photography" ist das Publikum aufgefordert, den Körper Sara Popowas mit den eigenen Blicken zu überschreiben, zu verhüllen, bloßzustellen, zu verändern. In Zeiten von Handycams und sogenannten social networks verschwimmen zusehends die Grenzen von Selbstwahrnehmung, Autorschaft und dem Recht am eigenen Bild. „Of Photography" nimmt den Ball auf und verhandelt Fragen nach gesellschaftlich determinierten Bildern, Kunstklischees und wechselseitiger Verantwortung für Wahrnehmung. Popowa führt in ihren minimalistischen Arbeiten eine Performancetradition weiter, die sich mit dem Verhältnis von Performerin und Publikum beschäftigt; unwiederholbar entsteht jede Aufführung aus dem Moment der Begegnung. Die Performance stellt Fragen nach Unmittelbarkeit und Dokumentation, einem kollektiven Gedächtnis performativer Momente und ob sich seit Yoko Onos „Cut Piece" wirklich etwas verändert hat in der Wahrnehmung von Räumen, Körpern und Sensationen.

Review and pics of Your Face, Your Fortune at NVT Theatre Jan 2010

The play 'The Ugly One' was followed in the bar by 'Your Face, Your Fortune', a collaboration between performance artists Tamar Daly and Sara Popowa, where, through photography and masks, rather than surgery, the audience could change their own faces, explore their identities and further develop issues raised in the play.
Your Face, Your Fortune is stylish, well played and well choreographed. The energy and interplay between Daly and Popowa as performers, combines with a mix of technology and sticky paper to define and drive this work where photographs of the audience are printed onto masks with press-out, peel-off features.
How does it then feel to then see the results of moving your own features on a mask of you face, or exchanging your features with another’s? Build comic, or tragic, composite identities that would confuse the most sophisticated facial recognition software. Maybe even try to test the town centre CCTV operators’ skills on the way home?
It is reassuring that in these times of often over complex computer solutions, Daly and Popowa have brought together the very different components of Your Face, Your Fortune without letting the technology distract from the essential fun of their performance.
Andy Towers
February 2010