I recently took part in the Fringe Arts Bath Festival in Bath, UK. I devised a ‘participatory performance’ entitled Communal Calligraphy as part of the exhibition “On the tip of my tongue”. This was curated by Alice Ling and Bryony Tilsley and took place at the home of a local resident, Chrissy Philp, on Sat 10th and Sun 11th June 2017; places were bookable on eventbrite.
From the Communal Calligraphy flier:
“What can be put into words and what cannot? How do words communicate? Who decides on their meanings? This participatory performance will explore these questions through the writing of “asemic” calligraphy.”
From the online publicity:
““On the tip of my tongue” is about the conversations we struggle to have, the things we never say, and what can and cannot be put into words. As calligraphy lies halfway between art and language, it is able to express more than with words alone. This artwork will take the form of a participatory performance and will investigate the capacity of visual design to convey otherwise indefinable meanings, and the possibilities of negotiating and communally constructing written language.”
The performance developed from the Collaborative Calligraphy performance back in Taichung in 2016. This time, instead of two people writing asemic characters in a dialogue, there were 7 seated a round table, making one mark at a time on paper using pens, and then passing the sheets on to the next person.
After the performance some of the written sheets were displayed at the venue, while others were left for subsequent visitors to add marks to as an ongoing project.
The activity could be called a ‘workshop’, but I prefer ‘participatory performance’ or ‘dialogic performance’. It was a performance because the process was more important than the final outcome, and participatory because there was no dividing line between audience and performer. I considered collating the work produced into some sort of chapbook but decided later to arrange the compositions on a larger sheet of paper, into a longer asemic “text”.
A video of the performance is available here.