FAILURE – a performative installation

by Tatiana Delaunay and Katharina Joy Book

A set up /environment combining various elements to be activated by the performers’ presence.

A piece about –
Failure of communication, translation and interpretation.
Failure to be present, presence.
Falling, fragility, and chance.
Choices; the things we keep and those that we discard.
Documentation and memory.
Moving material between mediums.

Using –
Performative instructions. SMS-based dialogue. Skype. Translation processes. Sound and stories. Receipts, saved for your records. Sacred objects. A toilet seat. Phones. Two men.

Words → objects. text → movement. Sound → words. Movement → story.


installation detail

Tatiana – ‘receipts saved for your records’ and ‘to a screen’.

Activating the installation by our presence means that we perform movement and create moments in the environment we have set up.

We tell stories through objects – things that fell out of his pockets, the button he might have lost; objects lost and found. We recall memories in the shadows of an overhead projector, translating and interpreting them via these kept objects. We interrupt ourselves frequently, with trivial (but maybe not so trivial) text messages spoken aloud.

 

objects kept and catalogued.

objects kept and catalogued.

textbooks in the toilet
me installing the installation

me installing the installation

We perform a script of Facebook messages while ripping off calendar pages and slamming the toilet seat – attempting to make those words our own.

failure performance Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 13.17.47

Another episode begins with us trying to embody other people’s gestures, and continues to show a series of movements we relate to falling and failing.

There are elements in the installation that the audience/ the visitors interact with directly – in one instance, ‘instructions for webcam‘ on a laptop are to be read (and, if interpreted in that way, acted out); in another instance, visitors can search a document of archived SMS conversation for key words – and find out how often “work” or “sex” was talked about. Generally, audience members are encouraged to enter the installation to engage with the different elements.

instructions for webcam - excerpt

instructions for webcam – excerpt. Katharina Joy Book

All in all, the performance includes four movement based episodes within the installation set up. The chronology of the episodes is flexible, they can be performed in intervals or all in one go.


Tatiana and I first performed this on 26th April 2016, at Hoxton Basement, London, as part of the exhibition You Are Not A Failure, curated by UAL Curation Society. The exhibition mostly consisted of fashion objects – garments, drawings, photographs. We had envisioned the performance episodes as ‘interventions’, to happen intermittently, not as ‘shows’ to be watched at a set time in front of an ‘audience’. This didn’t work quite like that, people did gather as soon as they noticed we were performing, and it remained unclear in some cases when we wanted to be heard and seen and when it wasn’t the point to have everyone’s undivided attention.

It was wonderful for me to see visitors attempting to follow the instructions for webcam! Someone even said they hadn’t spent so much time with a piece of art in a gallery before.

The episode where we perform Facebook messages and slam the toilet seat resonated with many people and we heard interesting thoughts from them about that. We are now working on refining and expanding the movement and choreography sequences and learning more text messages by heart.