Syllabus


Rules of the Game’: an introduction to task-based performance

Week 1: Introduction to Instruction

The first class will explore the art-historical context of task-based performance looking at the works of John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Yoko Ono, and the Fluxus artists. We will examine three key ideas in instruction-led artwork: the relationship between process and product, chance procedures and their role in the conception of the artwork, and activating the spectator through instruction. Reflecting on the material covered in class, each participant will then be asked to make a short performance in response to an instruction for next week’s class. Please make a performance in a spirit of experimentation, document it (writing, video, photographs, audio etc), and upload to the ECC Workroom page by Monday morning.

Week 2: Call and Response 1

In this practical class we will first discuss the participants’ performance responses. The group has been instructed to view each other’s work and consider it through a set of questions and propositions in preparation for the class. After sharing thoughts on the performed responses, the participants will be asked to make another performance response to be shared and discussed during the class. Further instructions given in class will shape this experiment. Another performance-making task will be given in preparation for next week’s class. Please make a performance in a spirit of experimentation, document it (writing, video, photographs, audio etc), and upload to the ECC Workroom page by Monday morning.

Week 3: Rules of the Game

Focusing in on the work of the artist Sophie Calle, in this class we will delve into the idea of constraint as a creative enabler. Submitting to a set of pre-determined instructions for herself, Calle makes space for chance and accidents in her work. This space can be argued to release the potential for the ‘production of the new’, an opportunity for the artist to ‘get out of her own way’ and be open to surprise. As well as discussing Calle’s work in detail, we will explore the philosophical ideas around chance and the production of the new drawing on (e.g.) John Cage, Gilles Deleuze and Elizabeth Grosz. This class will consist of a brief presentation of Calle as a case study, and a group discussion reflecting on the set reading and the participants’ own performance responses. Participants will be given another related performance-making instruction to complete before the next class. This performance will be designed to be presented ‘live’ in the final class.

Week 4: Call and Response 2

In this practical final class we will begin by watching/experiencing the participants’ performance pieces they have prepared for sharing. This sharing will be followed by discussion and feedback and a general reflection on the ideas introduced and discovered during the course.