2013 - 2015 Bryony Gillard: "Is it possible for a practice to exist in a constant movement between withdrawal and belonging?"

| tag: Arnhem

Excerpt from Bryony's 20 minute presentation for Do The Right Thing ! ~ DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2015.

On Frottage (Part 2)


While traversing the space between two very large textiles hung from the high ceilings in the performance space, Bryony Gillard delivered a layered monologue dealing with the acts and art of textual revision. The feeling of an unfixed, provisional and even experimental condition developed out of the artist’s performative text, together with her loosely choreographed movement around and between her textile installation. The soft creamy white fabrics were marked with bright, waxy colors, the result of having been rubbed against stones (the process of frottage describes in the text). Gillard made repeated references with her movements and her words to this act of transferral: of a rubbing or a kind of connection between two things that leads somewhere else. For her, frottage is a double entendre – it speaks of touch and corporeality, but also the transition from “text to texture”, and a kind of “surface movement”.

Moving in a multi-directional manner, wandering amongst, behind and around her work, the artist’s own body, at times, obscured the letters projected on the fabrics, making, as Gillard calls it “a reverse frottage – my body against this object”. This constant movement directly influenced the written text and how it could be read, as well as how the spoken text could be heard. In this way, Gillard demonstrates the tactile relationship between bodies, texts and the process of writing. This “rubbing forms a kind of writing, a response, retraced to create a new layer”, Gillard tells us, as she weaves her own body and voice across the space.

For Maria Hlavajova, Gillard’s performance spoke of the notion of infrastructure. “When we in the west congratulate ourselves [for having a] perfectly constructed infrastructure, we don’t realize how this infrastructure prevents us from thinking.” Rather than thinking Hlavajova, asserts, we are just working on maintaining the infrastructure. In the performance-lecture, she noticed that the difficulty of hearing the spoken text effectively made the text into texture. Furthermore, she said, it “brought me to notion of nomadic sensibility – a way of articulating the work through movement.” In response to Gillard’s initial question, she remarked that the move from critique to critique as proposition “articulates a way of being together in the room,” and that “belonging without withdrawing is a potential danger.”

Marina Vishmidt was interested in the “abiding productive tension in feminist art”, between the corporeal and mechanical, the sovereign and the general. Referring back to Lucy Lippard’s notion of eccentric abstraction, she asks if it de-sovereignizes the artist. The play of movement and speech between the two fabrics demonstrated how “movement is a kind of way to animate the opposition and further crumble the embedded historical tension,” between a kind of “authorized subjectivity and a democratic multiplicity demanded by feminist politics.

Alena Alexandrova responded with a decisive ‘yes’ in response to Gillard’s question. Here we see an oscillation of many surface layers of language, the trace, etc. Touching the surfaces is brings attention to the site “not only as primary site of inscription but also a site of sensitivity, exposure (to someone or something).”

About Do The Right Thing !

Bryony Gillard's website