[pamphlet text for SPACE, London]
At Space the work hangs in the entrance foyer in the place of the ubiquitous cctv security monitor. It is also seen projected as a video istallation in the gallery. MOAT is a form of story telling which will relies on an on-the-fly mixing of video and audio material (both live a prerecorded) using simple multi-image video equipment normally used for cctv surveillance. It includes images of live actions in the moat and other public spaces around Canada House (the Canadian embassy in London) and Trafalgar Square, footage of wild animals in flight and images from performance events in several other locations. MOAT is an ongoing work, presented either as a live performance or video installation, which evolves at each location with new narrative and video elements specific to that place mixed in as part of a live performance--mix session.
My recent work plays with the perception of inside and outside, dealing with issues of public/private space, voyeurism, surveillance and the predominance of the cinematic eye in our experience of the world. As the recent performance, Cinema was a machine for looking, a metaphor exploring displacement and alienation, MOAT continues the exploration of the two sides of the screen, the there and the here and how they relate to our simultaneous position as observed and observer, audience and performer and the flux of empowerment between the two. The Canada House performance elements play on the unique situation of this inside and outside being not only two different territories but, in fact, two different countries, with the C19 moat being an architectural echo of a real defensive barrier as well as a symbolic buffer between public and private space.
The work also deals more explicitly with public surveillance of private activity which not only has a resonance in the security issues of present day London (the UK has the highest density of CCTV cameras in the world), but is also is a metaphor for how we construct and limit our zone of empathy in a world where geopolitics and personal space are overlapped. Which relationships or connections are we obliged to acknowledge and which can we chose to ignore? When political leaders, out of expediency and self-preservation, can (using the rhetoric of advertising and communication) insist that causal or other connections (and therefore responsibility) simply do not exist between events around the globe, perhaps it is up to artists to re-string and reinvent connections, using the rhetoric of poetry, across disparate geographies, mindsets, and temporal realities, no matter how fleeting, objectionable or apparently strange they may appear.
Some choreographic elements seen in MOAT are based on video news footage which records Hassam Abdo, a Palestinian boy stopped at a checkpoint near Nablus in the occupied territories, who removes a bomb from his body following the instructions shouted from a distance by soldiers. In the work, this series of movements is repeated on video by different people in many situations. This movement work was developed as a component in Cinema, as part of a performance which took place in an urban park in Montreal facing a large storefront space where an audience was seated indoors, looking out onto the park, hearing a recorded and live soundtrack of narrative and music while live performance took place in the park and on the street opposite the window. Over 60 minutes the performance intermingled with the street activity outside. The audience was sometimes hidden from view and sometimes very visible to passers by outside. In MOAT this choreography is repeated by different performers in various locations, including Trafalgar square.
Dislocating and abstracting the gestures of the human body originating in a very specific geo-political and personal situation and inserting them elsewhere is a kind of distancing which attempts to be the opposite of the alienation provoked by the cameras blank stare. In deliberately blurring boundaries between the personal and the geopolitical, between factual and enacted events, in repeating a set of physical gestures (these images which morally may belong a young man now in prison and commercially are owned by a television network) the work grapples, perhaps clumsily, with a situation of overlaps and connections which, in the contemporary reality, we all must sift through and whose meanings are far more fluid than our leaders would prefer in their urgent management of the facts. (AF)
September 15 - October 8, 2005 (video installation)
Space 129-131 Mare St, London (www.spacestudios.org.uk)
Live event and installation; Canada House, London & Space, London 2005. MOAT is a performance and video installation recorded in the moat surrounding Canada House on Trafalgar Square in London merging live performance with video surveillance technology in a work exploring surveillance and political violence. It is a multi-screen video piece with live video and sound mix based on surveillance camera technology. Video and audio from live performance is mixed with pre-recorded material to create a mix specific to each event. An installation version is a mixed and edited version of the same material. This is an evolvig piece wher efuture versions will incorporate new material, both live and pre-recorded.
MOAT incorporates a choreographic element in which a performer reproduces the movements of a 14 year-old suicide bomber, captured by Israeli soldiers, who, following shouted instructions, is forced to remove first the bomb he is carrying and then his clothing. This strange dance in a no-man's land between life and death was filmed and released to the news media. In MOAT we re-project this set of gestures, performed by different people in a variety of public spaces, including Trafalgar Square. Additional material in MOAT includes footage of wild animals fleeing from the camera, a man in the moat reproducing gestures of kite-flying, recordings of Tony Blair and his foreign secretary asserting there is no connection between the london bombings and the war in Iraq and a story about the actions of a bystander reacting aggresively to a performance of the choreography in Montreal.