Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The problem of numbers

Picking up on Maura's point about the number of people attending the Articulating Practice conference...
When you're engaged in new work, new modes of thinking and doing things, there's always the question of dissemination. Are there so few people here because nobody knows about what we're doing, or because they know and aren't interested? In the increasingly commercialised context of the Arts and Higher Ed, numbers have become important. But it's not necessarily a helpful indicator of anything. When Chris Burden shot himself, there was a tiny audience, but it's a piece very widely referred to. Lucan and Gray have performed to a thousand at the Barbican, but it's not going to be considered a seminal work of performance and written about for years to come.
The flipside of the problem is the avant-gardiste notion that unless there's a tiny audience, it can't be a significant event. It conveys a special aura to those few who were there for such-and-such a performance.


  1. that's not a comment that's a post. who are you signed up as REMEMBER!!!

  2. first with performance: there is a difference between something that had a small audience but became important and spemthing that didn;t even attempt to get a big audience and made itself look important. I reemeber doing a long piece where I sewed myself into a silk sheet then cut my way out. no one stayed til the end nt even my friend with the camera. It turned into one of my more talked about performances on my degree. because I turned up late to the crit and people were just so desperate to know what had happened - I could have said anything, actually said very little.

    In terms of this symposium it was aimed at performance from fine art through to theatre and practice as research. They'd held it in London to be more accessible than portsmouth. I would just have expected more people...