An Epically Pointless Proof of Life (art) OR This Text Too Shall Pass.
Written by Rachel Lois Clapham in dialogue with Anna Livia Löwendahl-Atomic
Initially I felt that I had made my life so easy. Do you think I could put the text up on my blog after it is finished? Because I only have to change a screw to achieve something, but then lately I noticed that often I don’t feel like changing a screw :(. I could include a link to the exhibition on the blog post of course. But I still have to do it, and those days I feel really useless. Yes a link would be great thanks. Why do you feel you have to do it? OK give me names, dates of the show etc. Because this project will go on for the rest of my life. So you feel if you stop, the project will have failed? And in order to do that I need to ..well to do it. If your life gets cut off in its prime you will have still finished 'the project'? Stopping is not even an option. Like if you are run over by a bus the last screw won’t go in your coffin then maybe because people won’t know to keep the screw you have on you, unless you make a will? This is true but I have a back up. …A back up? Someone is always responsible for organising the screw etc after I am gone. So they will be responsible for nailing you shut? Yes. They will go back to the last place where you removed a screw, pick it up, and that will be the one left. It’s out of my hands :). …The screw you replaced it with I mean. Literally. Forgive me, this is all very fatalistic, but actually the work seems not so much about death as it is living. Performance, or life, and death inextricably linked of course- performance only remains through its disappearance (its death). Bodily remains only become such through the disappearance of life. I feel like paradox is never far away from your work. They will go get the last screw I did which will exchange place with a screw from my coffin. In the end there will be one screw left over. Yes, it is about living. Living with something for a very long time and having it burn a hole in your bag or pocket. It’s also in some way a secret mission. Does this project give your life purpose? Actually, it’s a very meditative. It’s funny I was writing about it yesterday and I was thinking about the secretive nature. The work is sometimes performative and sometimes clandestine. Perhaps all durational art, life art, as it were is secretive as you can’t constantly be showing and publicising what you are doing. It is necessarily private, like most process (as opposed to product or performance). It begs the question of why and when you think of it as art, and not. How do you mean? Like if you make art in the studio when no-one is looking, that’s unseen, secret, made in private for a deferred audience. True. But there is something different happening in the making of durational or life art because the audience is nearly always un-anticipated in a major way. The work is made to be purposefully unseen as work. Another paradox. You find yourself ‘going through the motions' and not really treating it as an out of the ordinary gesture. But then you pull it into an exhibition, a moment, a conversation with me, and then it is witnessed as art. But is that something different from the work itself. That goes back to what I first said, that I thought I made life so easy for myself as I "only" have to exchange a screw to feel I achieved something. I am interested in how to leave a trace without adding anything. With this arrangement. Like subtraction, and addition = 0 but also more than 0. And also how the work is simultaneously epic but also maybe pointless. How a dug out hole, later re-filled, can be an inverted mountain but walked over without noticing. I love epic and pointless in the same sentence. This feels important.
Rachel Lois Clapham is Co-Director of Open Dialogues www.opendialogues.com