Etienne, one of the two artists creating the upcoming performance, begins to speak to the crowd using a wireless microphone. “Hello everybody, I’m Etienne.” He then gestures at his collaborator, “My friend Francis.”
“I’m asking you to stay outside of these two poles…” he gestures at two pillars in the open space. “We ask for you to be as quiet as possible. Thank you. If you want you can also sit over here.” He gestures again and the audience reorganizes into a sort of semi circle. Francis begins walking around with a roll of red tape.
Francis walks around with part of the roll extended, his posture somewhat subdued. He makes eye contact with the crowd. His gaze is strong and makes me slightly uncomfortable, though I appreciate its intensity.
Two red tape lines, which Francis creates perpendicular to the back wall of the space, delineate locations and boundaries which the artists relate to throughout their performance.
The work has an absurd, playful, and welcoming quality. I find it to be particularly theatrical, reminding me in some ways of a carnival or circus act. The objects and stage are set, the actions seem set as well, though there is a quality of potential failure. Early in the performance Francis and Etienne sit on chairs facing each other across about a meter of space, Etienne holding two red plastic cups. Opposite him, Francis laboriously attempts to balance his chair on its two back legs with his feet lifted off of the ground. He finally succeeds but only for a moment before his chair pitches backwards and he is dumped onto the floor. At this moment of his failure, Etienne launches his hands into the air, an explosion of confetti launching from the cups he holds.
The performance is described as having three segments. First, the arrangement of the room – this must be the tape, the chairs set facing each other, the objects set near the back wall and not yet utilized. The second, the challenges of balance and reconstruction of the space. The third, the revealed, final, reconfiguration of objects and props used by the artists.
At a later point, while Francis is building a strange structure out of two supports and a door, Etienne is taping his feet and then legs to the two chairs. The mostly grey/white space makes the white chairs and red tape quite visually striking. When finally well fixed to his chairs Etienne takes a step. The awkwardness of this movement nearly causes him to fall, trapped in a moment where recovery is not certain, pitched forward on the two chairs so that each rests only on its front legs. Francis has begun to sing into the microphone. A playful tune, emphasizing the playful and precarious quality of this unusual act. Etienne, takes several more steps, stops, recovers, takes a few more. When he reaches the door structure he stops, Francis stops singing, and Etienne cuts the chairs from his legs – hanging them on a nail that Francis had stuck into the door.
The performance concludes in an unexpected, unusual but aesthetically striking structure constructed through both artists’ actions
Two performers, two red stripes denoting the space of the performance, two supports. One door, one nail. Two plastic cups. Thousands of pieces of confetti. One unusual tune and many absurd, playful, and entertaining small actions.
Posted by: Sheri Nault