Outside, inside the Forest

As part of the Chapel Art Studios Inside/Outside Symposium for the Laboratory of Dissent 2019 in Winchester Art School, I was given the opportunity to ‘rant’ for 5 minutes.

The platform of a large, flat rock that juts into the valley provided (as it has done for previous performance works) the perfect ‘soapbox’ to climb up on to. It’s as if once my body is there, I adopt the role of performer, audience and valley. With the echoes of my voice shouting across the chasm bouncing back to me, I ask myself ‘is anyone there, are you listening, are we connecting?

Can you hear me? I was asking, shouting across the valley and across the channel to the UK symposium event. Yes, they were there, listening and connecting with me via twitter.

The audio was clear, as if amplified by the theatrical stage of the rock within the valley. The visual aesthetic was an unknown. A barely visible body dressed in black could be made out among the tall pine trees, gesticulating in a plea for connection and understanding.

My words were attempting to understand where I am, inside or outside, or was I both? In reality, I am off the grid, outside the system but with these connections are you every really outside? I rely on these connections, personally and professionally. It is again posing the question ‘is this a performance if there is no audience?’ which is fueling further investigation into social isolation, professional isolation and how to work outside the system. The Critical Moss publication will further explore this in early 2020.

My words were from the forest, with the origin of the word ‘forest’ being ‘foreign’ and ‘out-of-doors’ or ‘exterior’, a play on my status as immigrant, a political and personal cry to those listening on the inside. A fantastically strong connection to the outside then materialises, as if no other can compete with the realisation that I AM the forest and the forest is me. And once this is known or felt then everything is made sense of.

‘I am man, woman, animal… I am all and other.’

Continued thanks to Chapel Arts Studios for the connection.

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