xo

Partly Stressed

is a performance caught in a holding pattern and trying to improvise its way out of the room. Drawing loosely on some principles of 'tragedy' as circling towards event, counter circling in the fallout and punctuated by ritual song, improvisational chains, something about a grape harvest(?), and the wheeling out of an aftermath - this performance pits punctures in the present tense via oral gestures and ambiguous moves, suspended between vehicular languages of formal address and a rhythmic, romantic idiolect.

Performed at David Dale Gallery for Jude Browning's event Pre-ramble, 26.01.19
Photo documentation Max Slaven 

Beginning somewhere around eight or eight ten.

I walk into the room wearing a plain white t-shirt and blue denim high-waisted jeans cut short because they were too long once. Fine now. The soft green light is blowing out the projected image of a lover being fed grapes by a body out of shot. Over-soft focus. Image begins to roll, hard to see. Later he says ‘I didn’t see me?’

Two large sheets of thin paper lay side by side slap bang in the middle of the field of view.

Kneeling at the foot of the sheets, I press play on a youtube video of a metronome playing from my phone and make sure it’s picked up by the microphone and loop pedal. I catch it and set it off on its way.

There is a punnet of grapes beside my right knee.

I pick the first grape, it still has some of its stalk attached. I comment on this, pick it off and throw it somewhere over my shoulder. Do I eat the grape now? Maybe I do.

I keep eating grapes and commenting on their roundness and their colour. Their sweetness and their sourness. I am placing grapes on the right hand paper plain.

I sing to myself fragments of I can’t help falling in love with you[1] and I always cough before the punch.

I place twelve grapes[2] in total. I place the left sheet of newsprint over the right one, pick up my microphone, turn down the loop pedal and walk over to a tall table, passing the projection screen. 

Now, fingers tap tap tapping much larger than life. Recorded in the shadow of the last bits of daylight.


I pour myself a glass of wine.[3] I set a kitchen timer for seven minutes.

I read from a stand and elaborate along the way, it goes a little like this:

I’m watching the man in the fleece tacking a notice to the entrance to the flats, you know, the green tiled wall with the white grouting, and his fleece was charcoal. The notice reads. The notice is saying something about. It says what it says because. It has to be there because nobody answers the door to just anyone. That’s why it is tactful to tack it up. Somebody somewhere is trying to tell us there will be works on the line, and the action might result in sudden and disturbing noise. 

I say: feels like a knock at the door and with both hands clap together middle finger and thumb and pepper the air.

I say: like, ah! and repeat the ah varying my intonation until it sounds right. I notice someone waving their arm around in the audience but I haven’t got my glasses on. I continue. I wonder if my fly has come undone



[1] Toody Cole’s Dead Moon version in mind.

[2] I’m thinking about the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes just before midnight, to usher in good luck

[3] Fruity red.

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