Failing to Perform: when performance art isn’t
– Performance-presentation, NEXT TO NOTHING: PERFORMANCE STRIPPED TO THE BONE, The Lock-Up, Newcastle, 26 September 2015
This pretend pseudo-academic, genuine, fake presentation/paper/ performance investigated some of the terms that lurk around performance art: presence, pretence, the inauthentic, the genuine, badness, the amateur, the professional, the academic, the artist, practice, inter-subjectivity, entertainment and boredom.
Beginning with definitions of failure and performance, Polkinghorne, in a fusion of the academic with the performative, at around 5-10 minutes into the presentation, took off her shoes, trousers, underpants and shaved of the right side of her pubic and leg hair.
Within the presentation Polkinghorne navigated the fuzzy zone where performance dissipates and another experience manifests in a collision of failure, artifice and authenticity. What is that something else? How failed can performance “be” before it is no longer performance? Why do we care about defining what is and isn’t performance?