Eirini Kartsaki, Emma Bennett @Fiver Fridays
24 November | 7:30pm | £5
Tickets link below
Making my excuse to leave, I hear myself say, “I have to go home now because I have tied all the soft furnishings together”. It is only when I say the words aloud that it occurs to me that this is what I have done. A poetic examination of the feelings associated with work and rest in an economy driven by ‘performance’, WHAT MATTER asks what it is to work, what it is to be seen to be working. It is composed from the fallout of my own performances of employability: the put-together image fraying at the edges, the break-room longing for the soft comforts of duvet, silence and home. I stand onstage and speak, continuously, without pause. What appears, at first, to be a disorganised and unedited train of thought, is gradually revealed to be a precisely orchestrated performance score, illustrated by glossy visuals and lightning-fast technical cues. And yet, there is something saggy in the wings. A bundled mass, a soft burden, a straining at the edges: the performance is coming apart at the seams.
WHAT MATTER is the latest in a series of works exploring the compositional possibilities of speech. As with earlier works such as Slideshow Birdshow and Accent, the performance stages a situation in which an object, mood or obstacle puts pressure on the public act of speaking. Under this pressure, grammar and syntax, rhythm, mode and delivery are weirdly or comically reshaped. Linguistic sense is broken and speech aurally re-sensed as a kind of music. Working a zone beyond conscious intention, I use this method to explore sites of personal difficulty, contradiction or incommensurable desire.
WHAT MATTER marks the first time I have turned my attention to the accumulated humiliations of a life lived with performance. It is a work made of speech: not the stirring cadences of public oratory, but the accidental declarations that shape a life lived awkwardly.
HERPES departs from an anxiety to do with growing up and not wanting to settle down, or settle in; it deals with a refusal to get on with it, or get it together; it kind of says: I do not want to pull myself together, I do not want to come to my senses. I want to live my life as if it is mine – but it is mine, it is mine and yet I still struggle to come to terms with that fact and ignore my mother’s wishes, my father’s hopes for me, which are easily summed up: get a husband, a good job, have a baby, have a mortgage, be sensible, be sensible, be sensible.
Emma Bennett makes performances out of speech. Her work might be improvised or carefully composed. More often it is an uncertain mixture of the two. She has collaborated with poets, composers and artists to explore create vocal scores, ensemble performances and dramatic interventions. Recent works have been presented at printroom (Rotterdam) Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (Paris), HOME (Manchester), Laborsonar series (Berlin), Barbican (London) and South London Gallery. She is a Teaching Fellow in Contemporary Performance at the University of Leeds.
Eirini Kartsaki makes performance work so that she does not have to do the dishes. Her work is usually about her desires, fantasies and her struggle to figure out whether she really wants a baby. She thinks does not want to have children, not because she does not like them, but because she thinks that the western compulsive logic of reproductive futurity is basically shit. Her mother wants her to have children but that is a different story.