The blindfold for me is a key way of facilitating interaction in our work. The blindfold seems to articulate a a clear difference in status between the performer and participant. The lowering of the performer’s status is essential to lessen the sense of contrivance in relation to the scenario that the participant is being asked to engage with. It places the participant in a position of control encouraging them to take a decisive role within the interaction and protects their identity allowing them to take on roles and undertake actions that they might not normally have the courage to do when an authority figure is watching. The blindfold also removes the primary sense most associated with spontaneous critical assessment and places emphasis on hearing and particularly touch activating a more sensual mode of engagement and, potentially, justifying intimate contact with a stranger.
I feel so connected to the person I was as a sixteen year-old. The naive, sexually driven and intensely shy teenager, the one for whom everything was so exciting. I thought I’d lost that. Lost him. Felt too connected with the mediocre, too weighed down by normality. I remember saying to one of my old girlfriends that I wanted to fuck everybody in the world. Nothing changes. Those desires haven’t gone away. Of course I’m more… what? Sensible? Realistic? I doubt both of those statements. More confused maybe? But I was then, in my Nirvana t-shirt, buying into the romanticism of Smashing Pumpkins lyrics. And there’s no doubt that I’m more cynical of that stuff, of cliche. But the death of cliche leaves space for other interpretations and it’s so roomy it echoes.
As heterosexual artists and performance practitioners we have a duty to explore notions of sexuality and particularly gender identity in the way that the LGBTQ society have been doing for such a long time. The transgression of such ways of defining ourselves is so important, these ways which separate human beings into discrete groups that allow for social prejudice to exist. I hope that the future holds a personality focused means of engaging with people that is removed from the crass differential labelling. Our personalities are multifaceted complexes of what we might naively label male and female traits. Even basic experience of social interaction suggests that personality traits are not bound up in gender and that it is a gross simplification, a imposition of the binary, that takes us further away from any kind of accurate description of the way personality is formed.
I grow increasingly concerned about the contemporary obsession with health. That abstract notion that we need to extend our lives to the furthest point. Spread it thin like a child dragging his shitty shoe along the pavement. But don’t get me wrong, this kind of stuff is for some people. I wish it was for me. But in the hands of the government it becomes something else. Fear-mongering, the constant fear of death and ugliness because, let’s face it, that’s the subtext – you exercise to look attractive and avoid death. Saying it’s not a culture that arises out of the body-image culture is nothing but a lie. But what happens if you run for, on average, an hour a day? That’s 365 hours a year. That’s 15.2 days a year. That’s nearly half a month and times, say, 30 years is around 2.5 years. 2.5 years spent pavement pounding or pulling weights in a gym. To do what? Extend your life so you can spend more time watching TV because you’re tired or working at your job that you hate? The point is that most people don’t do anything of any significance. Nothing. They get by and they perpetuate their own gene pool and they argue and spend time cleaning, maybe, and feeling lost and doing nothing. Why would you want to elongate that? It’s not even Aristotlean (rational pursuit) or Epicurean (play) leisure and if you don’t think that somebody in power isn’t aware of the pacifying / fear inducing effect of this obsession with health then think again.
Is there an evolutionary pressure to pursue the scientifically-facilitated eradication of the phenomenon of death?