“I Understand and I Wish To Continue” (Silverlake Retrieval Action)
Action one19’s new work is inspired by the emerging discipline of ‘anticipatory history’, which, like the kinds of theatre that Action one19 makes and approves of and argues for, is concerned with the narrative and analytical tools we use in order to imagine how we might live together in the future.
The project is conceived in response to our friend Dennis Cooper’s blog, which has for several years presented an exemplary site for information-sharing, testimony, negotiation, collaboration, avowedly anarchic community formation, sexual nonconformism and cultural provocation. The blog has recently been placed behind a ‘Content warning’ disclaimer wall by Blogger, as “some readers . . . believe that this blog’s content is objectionable”. Potential users of the blog are given a choice of buttons to click: “I UNDERSTAND AND I WISH TO CONTINUE” versus “I do not wish to continue”.
In common with much of Action one19’s work, this piece is concerned with the structures through which consent is given and withheld, and the contexts in which questions of consent are, variously, raised and suppressed. Through what actions and processes might we refuse to consent to a future we do not want? And how can the action of consenting, almost as a mode of artistic practice in itself, and a re-examination of normative thresholds for consent and refusal, open up a space for a different perception to emerge of our many possible futures?
The piece is in the form of two co-dependent diptychs: the first of which is the pairing of the different presentations on the Saturday and Sunday of this weekend; the second is the presence of two actors in adjacent spaces in the Sunday performance.
On Saturday, a sound / text piece, ‘Proposal in anticipation’, plays in the gallery.
On Sunday, a durational performance, ‘“I Understand and I Wish To Continue” (Silverlake Retrieval Action)’, will take place between 3–6pm. Visitors to the gallery are welcome to come and go as they please. In the piece, two actors navigate a body of 100 instruction-based tasks or directions, to each of which they may choose to consent or not. Choosing not to consent to a particular sequence of action will require that they begin again at the start of the score, though they may take a different route the next time. Certain instructions may require them, or invite them, to involve the other actor, or, in some cases, to engage and interact with a visitor to the gallery. All visitors may choose, without question, whether or not they wish to consent to the invited course of involvement: there is no expectation of consent, but also, always, in the light of the performance, the possibility of a suspension of normative boundaries.
Actors: Jonny Liron and Sean Hart.
Action one19 is the collaborative partnership between theatre makers Jonny Liron and Chris Goode. Since their first project together, Hey Mathew, in 2008, they have made a number of fugitive and dissident pieces emerging from their commitment to queer and anticapitalist action: these include O Vienna (2009), at 22 (2010), in situ (2010), World of Work (2010), and Angry, Red (2011).