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Performance, 8 November
A woman finished her conversation, put down her drink and made her way to one corner of the long narrow room. There she dipped her hair into a metal bucket filled with water and donned a blindfold. This did happen ...
At the Institute of Modern Art on the occasion of Lyndal Jones' performance Prediction Piece 6: Pipe Dreaming there were in fact two actions taking place, one being determined by the other. The performer, by her action, manipulated a traditionally passive and voyeuristic audience, which may not have even been aware of its part in the whole as it traversed, silent and sideways, the length of the gallery following the performer's path, straining for every word.
This subtle undermining of traditional roles and preconceptions was apparent in every aspect of Lyndal's structured, formal presentation. Relationships between performer, audience, and performative field were constantly defined and redefined, so that the certainty of a comfortable position (for anyone) had to be denied.
From the outset the performance was uncertain. Prior to the performance, the audience socialised on the "set" (installation), leant on the "props", unselfconsciously read crumpled fragments of notes in the wastebasket (no secrets here). Expectations of the future and questions of the past were evident in the just-vacated/about-to-be-entered scenario. A table piled high with books (will she read the books?), two chairs intimately placed (will she sit in a chair?), interrupted notes and letters. Emblazoned along the wall running the length of the gallery, in a very certain shade of red, was a painting of a text which anticipated any number of potentialities: THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL. At the far end of the gallery - a bed of books (the sleep of reason) ... But was this the performer? There had been no announcement, and she didn't take centre stage. Has the performance begun? With the donning of the blindfold, the performer effectively denied the audience her gaze and their own reflected back on them. There was no private exchange of glances, no privileged interaction with each and every one of them (for your eyes/ears only). Forced backwards by the collective gaze of the viewers and their expectations, the blind/folded woman, ignoring the waiting scenario, began a long spellbound journey along the emblazoned wall, listening, stopping, turning, speaking, whispering her way down the length of the gallery. So it seemed that not only was the writing on the wall, the body of the writing was also on the wall (are we writing the body here?). The delivery of the spellbound fragments of dreams and future visions, which only her blind eyes were unclosed to see, was irregularly interrupted by the building shifting bodies from floor to floor, and the disembodied voice of the lift driver (we assume) asking "what can you see?".
This was the collectiveness of the audience, directed at performer-as (reluctant) medium, a captive performer with her back to the wall and no way out.
Her inexorable journey takes her directly into the firing line, and towards a fitting end for a blindfolded seer. But the execution is a deception, merely a mechanistic intervention of lens shutter flashbulbs that, far from terminating an existence, will provide the only evidence that this did happen. Or at least that this is certainly something which may have happened, once ...
As a word in a sentence it was determined by what came before and after. lt was both the predicted and the prediction.