“I like to see expectations unmet and conventions broken in the arts. To surprise is perhaps the most important job of the arts, because it makes people consider alternatives to their habitual ways of thinking and doing. Breaking convention is especially important in genres that purport to be experimental or cutting-edge. But performances are so often (a) in pubs (b) between 9pm and midnight (c) playing through a PA (d) to drinkers who have essentially 100% certainty about what is going to happen. When so much of the context and framing is unexamined and unchanging, how can the content ever be very surprising?
“The most salient aspect of ‘End of April. Beginning of May’ was the confounding context. It was not in a venue, but in a semi-public outdoor space. There was no PA, no mixer, no bouncer, and no-one in charge. There was nowhere to buy drinks. There were 7 performances on 7 consecutive days, each at a different time, most of them inhospitable, none of them normal going-out times. It was cold and often raining. The audience were mostly bystanders who had no idea what was going on. It was often not clear when the performances had started, and most of them went on interminably, forcing me at least to abandon ship and leave without knowing how they ended.
“I went to several of the week’s events and it felt like shiftwork. I set my alarm for 2am one night to catch a 3am show in the freezing dark that had essentially no witnesses. I developed a new relationship with this familiar part of the city, and new ways of thinking about the city, its inhabitants, and the role of the arts in it. I wasn’t expecting this. I observed late night ragers subsiding, and early risers rising, while following a very-late-night performance ensemble move slowly around a city block
“I haven’t even started on the ‘content’ …”