At the beginning when you were both standing on either side of a plank, you were in your places, I was comfortable with my place, then there was a moment Karen, when I saw, I believed I saw, moving across your face, a terror of precariousness, wide open, right there, child-like terror. You were standing on a precipice and there is no security. It was devastating to me. Its hard to say in words, on email, how real this was for me. I had to stop myself looking round the audience and asking ‘did you see that??!’. This was then followed by a booming question that stayed in my head for the rest of the performance ‘IS THIS REAL???’.
Karen, I’ve never seen your work before, I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting you a few times and each time you have struck me as a f*cking fabulous woman (im sorry, but sometimes swearing is necessary). I know you’re not asking for feedback on yourself, but it was in watching this performance that I partly realised what is so magnetic about you, because I believe (though I can’t be sure as I know nothing about how performance actually works), it is the way you appear to live the life in you so unapologetically that made me ask if this was real.
After the performance, when you opened for discussion I told Mary Paterson my question and she talked a little about how that is what live art is often about, finding a realness. I understand this but I have very rarely ever experienced live art that felt real to me or that made me ask if what I was experiencing was real in such a sincere way. It is difficult for me to explain what that question was— ‘is it real?’. I’m not interested in trying to be smart about it.
Hearing Sophie explain the kind of structure you both worked to, a structure of gaps or holes, explained my experience of the performance. In the ‘structured’ sections I was kind of cruising, knowing my place, the ways I could enjoy the movement and patterns created, but in the gaps I felt like I was in a game where I didn’t know what would happen next. In these moments I would search your face and movements for clues and when I saw you precarious, searching, playing, lunging, I was exhilarated.
It’s like it wasn’t even about the performance, it was about you, what you were willing to open up and live, there and then.
I think you’re like a wild child. One of those people whose fearlessness in life I just sit back and marvel at, because your fearlessness encompasses a willingness to experience fear. Its as though you don’t need to know where the boundaries or the safety net is, you’re going to fly out anyway to feel the cool breeze, and if you find yourself without ground beneath your feet that’s what you will live next. Of course I know that living ‘aliveness’ doesn’t always feel anywhere as simple as that.
I loved it.
Image, from miles & miles. Photo: Manu Valarce.