Model and mode of being: notes on the Antony Gormley OPENLAB session

On 7th Feb, OPENLAB went to the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey where Antony Gormley’s exhibition Model was in place. In particular, we explored the installation piece Model which the show was named after.

Inside the exhibition, our brief –  or at least, the one that I am most interested to explore  –  was this:  ” […] to see the differences/similarities between real life and performance mode”.

Some questions come up for me. They are as follows:

What do we mean by ‘performance’ mode?

What do we mean by ‘real life’ mode?

Being a lazy kind of person at the moment, I googled Wikipedia’s definition of performance.  It says “A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience.”

I like this description because it makes me think.

Behave in a particular way…?  I guess this means that performers are recognisably acting, singing or dancing or whatever for an audience (and this ‘behaviour’ is rated according to the skill they are judged to have brought to it).

But what about when the performer’s behaviour is concerned with ways to be present in the moment of performance?  Would this always be a discernible quality? Is it a ‘rateable’ quality? And how important is it for an audience to know that the performer is behaving in a particular way for them? The words, or rather the accusative call to ‘make an effort’ spring to mind as something an audience might say if it felt excluded from proceedings.

Under what circumstances might an audience be ‘won over’ if the performer performed all the while behaving primarily in a particular way for themselves? And do we ever do that even when we think that is what we are doing? Would there be extra work to be done to translate this process into a recognisibly performative state? What is a ‘recognisibly performative state’ ? Is it something akin to a state that will satisfy an audience that they are not being cheated out of a ‘performance’? Would we have to step outside of what we thought of as our own level of in-touch-ness with ourselves and what we think we are doing in order to better think we were achieving this?

However, if I aim to ‘perform’ in this state, in this particular way, then it’s because I think it has worth or merit in itself, as a thing to see, as a spectacle. Thinking it’s enough is maybe asking an audience to expect something different. Because the ‘product’, the spectacle, might be discernibly different. On the other hand, it might not. It is concerned though, with the process; with the process as being the product. The ongoing ongoing product.

Is thinking something’s ‘enough’ in this context comparable to offering something closer to a ‘real life’ mode as a performative aesthetic? As in declaring of something that ‘it is what it is’ …

Does that mean that when we think something’s ‘enough’, its more closely related to authenticity than when we believe that what are doing is not enough and strive towards an idea of ‘performance’?

What, generally, if there are ‘general’ notions about it – which of course there must be – are our ideas about ‘performance’ comprised of?

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About Antonio de la Fe

Antonio is a Spanish choreographer and performer based in London with a background in physiotherapy and Pilates. After coming relatively late to dance and initially studying it in Madrid, they came to London in 2006 where they completed a Performance MA at The Place, writing on The Creation of Solo Choreography Through Deep Engagement with The Application of Mental Imagery Specific Processes for his thesis. Since then, the has danced for Florence Peake, Matthias Sperling, Jonathan Lunn, Eva Recacha, Carla Onni, Annie Lok, Melita Spahic and Riccardo Buscarini and his choreographed works include the Place Prize finalist piece (2011) Cameo, an open OPENLAB: a hybrid, Va por Vds., and A void. They are also a co-founder of the performance collective anthologyofamess. Antonio was a recipient of the BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship, with support from Independent Dance, in 2015. During this fellowship, they worked on researching and developing their Unrehearsed Series (Crocodile, Make Me Cool, A Piece for Two: Lovers) in collaboration with producer Martine Painter. Currently, they are expanding on the idea of the Unrehearsed Series and developing a set of choreographic practices under the name Speculative Choreographies.

2 thoughts on “Model and mode of being: notes on the Antony Gormley OPENLAB session

  1. Pingback: OPENLAB to take-away, anyone? | OPENLAB's Archive

  2. Pingback: Session on Thursday 7 February 2013: A visit to Antony Gormley’s “Model” exhibition. | OPENLAB's Archive

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