Liking loss more than fulfillment

Possibilities development still 04b

Possibilities for a Pleasant Outing, a performance I’m currently developing for What remains… Anatomy of an Artist: a festival of 10 new works which takes place at Siobhan Davies Dance in May, is an attempt at making tangible a body of research  — both in terms of the strands and traces of biographical/archival information, and also the provocations arising from the process of research: the particularities of navigating a queer archive (that of dancer and choreographer Fred Herko), the responsibilities — or otherwise — of dealing in ephemera, gossip and rumour, as well as mistakes and misinformation.

Two excerpts from Fred Herko: A Course Packet, Part 2, edited by Joshua Lubin-Levy

Heather Love, Wanted: Failure

In the case of Fred Herko, the lure is almost irresistible. The image of the beautiful loser, the doomed but endlessly appealing outsider, emits what José Esteban Muñoz calls “burning queer incandescence.” Add to that the fact that we have so little evidence of Herko’s life, that he worked in an ephemeral medium, that it is so hard to touch him, and you will see why doing queer history might require liking loss more than fulfillment.

Ara Osterweil, Vanishing Acts: Meditations on Fred Herko, Andy Warhol, and What Disappears Beyond the Frame:

Writing queer history, or writing history queerly, asks us to ponder a series of vanishing acts, and the forensic traces they may or may not leave on the scene.

All along I’ve been pursuing failure as a possible strategy, and it remains — if this is not too much of a paradox — a vital tactic (how might the actual limitations of my physicality contribute to the work?). However as I spend more time in the performance space, an effort towards engaging (ie attempting to understand), and locating “body knowledge” must also come into play. This is not a separate route but a reworking and strengthening — a bolstering — of the one I’m already travelling down.

 

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Jamie Atherton

Jamie Atherton is an artist living and working in London.

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