Walking A Line

Round the table I have been trying to present around to a sympathetic group of clinicians and hospital managers about art thinking.   I am talking to them about the idea that often contemporary art work is never quite what we think it is … and that it has the capacity to be more knowing, more beautiful, more nuanced than we expect. I’m not sure how far I am getting.
The artists Pauline Cummins and Frances Mezzetti are part of this wider company and are showing video documentation and images of their Walking A Line performance project.
What is unfolding on screen, delivers a visual narrative of the looks, behaviours and places where older men might gather. In fact Pauline and Frances have assumed facial hair, clothes, posture, and the locations that allude to empowerments and disempowerments that surround some older men of certain classes and generations.
These men are transnational in the way their characteristics travel and are recognisable but are also often local in their situations. They are observed as both familiar and audacious. This is to say that the work has been performed in different countries but what travels cuts through explanations and translations and is a reminder again of what it is to be human.
Everyone in our room is laughing. There is a gathering realisation that what we are seeing is a studied and performed work by women about older men. It has a delicious elegiac quality that seems simultaneously laugh out loud funny, sympathetic, humane and brilliant. It is an acutely observed and actualized piece of work that walks a line at the edge of visibility and invisibility.
The pleasure of recognition, connection, and identification that unfolds within the video is also the delight of something fundamental communicated and shared between us all in the room. It is so particular, rich, felt and affirming …. that these lines can’t hold it
Philip Napier

on March 18 | by

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