Trashing Performance III (Common)

Dunston Miners 1920

I can clearly remember the effort it took to rouse my tired, hung-over and useless body out of bed yesterday morning and get it to Toynbee Hall for the final day of Trashing Performance talks. The days theme being 'Common'. Once sat in place, friend spotted, coffee in hand, notebook out listening to Franco "Bifo" Berardi that effort melted away into nothing, my empty stomach was acquiesced by passionate talk of revolution at 11.30AM. Followed by pangs of slight guilt and hypocrisy at the thought of those occupying St Pauls at that very moment. It's all well and good to talk about the evils of capitalism…

A charismatic speaker, Berardi continually, distractedly (endearingly) dropped his notes on the floor. He spoke about love being the perception of the joy of the other, he told us "My pleasure is your pleasure". I was reminded of many things during his talking, one being why I make work – performance does matter – and also about the performativity of the lecture situation – 'my pleasure is your pleasure' can certainly be applied to good public speakers; if they aren't getting off on it then I am uncomfortable.

I am reminded of a comment about critical discourse being separate to the practice of making, of doing, irrelevant to some who just want to be making; I can make no such distinction, I feel that we need to be less intimidated by academia, the kinds of knowledge involved in performance are complex, curious and politically relevant.

Later on Simon Casson from Duckie and Ingo Cando from Wotever World were part of a panel presentation/discussion. Casson spoke started off the provocateur, talking about making work for the working class, how after 10 minutes we all get bored of art so best keep it short and ended up looking (and sounding) fairly depressed about failing to achieve that aim. Duckie are programmed by the Barbican (BELLYFLOP can't even get tickets) and must be getting shitloads of cash to do what they do these days. It's hard to be underground (where you can have the moral high ground) when you have lots of money. 

There's a funny tension – how to get more people involved versus a love of being 'outsiders'.

I wonder about getting critical minds together in one place to talk about things that are important; does it become impossible to agree? There are so many points about which to be pedantic, so many assumptions to be undone and misunderstandings to unpick. As inspiring as the day was (not to say that it was without troughs..) I wonder about a festival like Trashing Performance leaving people without feeling a sense of community rather than with. And what can be done about that?

Something else Berardi said, the resistance will not win but it is important anyway. I look forward to next year's incarnation of Performance Matters. Would be good to see more contemporary dance faces.

Click for the song of the day.