]performance s p a c e[ works to act as a home for UK and international artists, and we often host guest performances, workshops, residencies and artist talks.

Writing




]ps[
has always worked to foster  critical and poetic contexts for performance art. We are slowly making our collection of commissioned writings available online.





Image: Kira O’Reilly, WAKE, 2017. Photo by Luke Jones.





Tiding

Saturday 2nd April 2022


Tiding, meaning a communication, or an announcement, or to drift with, or as if with, the force of the waves.

Tiding was a day of performance art taking place at two historic places of worship in Folkestone and Romney Marsh. Tiding was a celebration of the spring, the return of life after the retreats of winter and lockdown. Tiding also marked the last public programming ]performance s p a c e[ organised in Folkestone.

]ps[ has made a home for performance art and artists on Tontine Street since 2016. We have organised festivals, hosted residencies, curated exhibitions, and worked in collaboration with our peers and communities. Across this time, we have remained in dialogue with the remarkable landscape of the Kent coast, and so it is fitting that Tiding occured at both the Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe in Folkestone, and St Augustine’s at Snave, a remote church in Romney Marsh.

People have met to worship at St Mary and St Eanswythe since the 7th Century, and at Snave since the 13th Century. In inviting James, Kelvin, Léann, Lynn, Monstera, and Sandra to make works in dialgoue with these two old churches, we spoke about religion, and the histories of violence, exclusion and loss which these sites call in. At the same time, as we prepared the churches - negotiating space, sourcing materials, collecting dust - we  thought about the spiritual funcitons of performance art - as a place for gathering, meditation, celebration and reflection.

Thank you for joining us at Tiding.



TIDING, 2022. Videography and editing by Marco Beradi and Baiba Sprance.



Credits


Tiding is curated by Benjamin Sebastian and Joseph Morgan Schofield, and produced by ]performance s p a c e[. The project is supported by Ash McNaughton and Marcin Gawin.

The project is funded by ]performance s p a c e[, Kent County Council, Creative Folkestone and Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, and Kent Wildlife Trust.

Contact: joseph@performancespace.org













Sandra Johnston. Photos by Tristan Broers.

Day time session in Romney Marsh

St Augustine at Snave




The day began with a vegan picnic at St Augustine in Snave, a 13th Century Church in Romney Marsh, where artists Sandra Johnston, Lynn Lu and James Jordan Johnson presented performances across the afternoon.



Likkle More: A Walk, A Plot(ting), A Land, James Jordan Johnson. Photos by Manuel Vason.


“We Must return to the point from which we started. Diversion is not a useful plot unless it is nourishedby reversion: not a return to the longing for origins, to some immutable state of Being, but a return to thepoint of entanglement” – Glissant

Likkle More: A Walk, A Plot(ting), A Land is a multi-site-specific performance. The work is a way to think about how a (raw) material and subject becomes an art object, what process must take place so that it becomes something it was not previously? How does a desire for singularity and removing a “point of entanglement” become a necessity for the knowledge system and culture that pertains to the art object?

The work, which uses the method of walking, video, public intervention and participation begins withinLondon pertaining to three distinct areas; Stratford, Lewisham & Deptford. The route breaks away from London, a departure followed by a destination of St Augustine’s Church at Snave, Romney Marsh.
James Jordan Johnson (b.1997, London) is an artist working in site-specific performance and sculpture. He is interested in thinking about illegible knowledge systems surrounding material and geological Black histories by using methods of mundanity, slowness, walking, site interventions, and found as well as chosen objects.

︎︎︎ www.jamesjordanjohnson.com

I chew.

Thinking of coconut husks
thinking on
these husks
Remnants
And those who were left behind

I chew.


and still I, Madinah Farhannah Thompson writing on Likkle More
︎︎︎ read the full text




 The Impossibility of Return, Lynn Lu. Photo by Manuel Vason.

"The past 2 years have left us collectively shattered. We don’t stay broken, however, and as we put ourselves back together, this work proposes that we wear each of our distinct scars as a mark of beauty in the face of a chaotic universe."

You are invited to bring Lynn a cherished object that has been broken, and to engage in an intimate exchange. Your broken object – ideally ceramic or porcelain – might be in pieces, or simply chipped or cracked. Lynn's offering during Tiding will be a one-to-one exchange invol ving these items.

Over the next months, Lynn will resurrect these items using kintsugi*. Stanford research scientist Amy Price has described the practice of kintsugi as “radical empathy in action” (2021), representing resilience and the regaining of function with new splendour. Each restored object will be photographed then returned to their owners.

* Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the breakage with lacquer dusted with precious metals.
Lynn Lu (PhD, AFHEA) is a visual artist from Singapore, trained in the US, France, Japan, and Australia.

Her research-led multidisciplinary practice emerges from her interests in context and site specificity, participation and collaboration, and the poetics of absurdity. Engaging vigorously with the present reality of all that is here-and-now, the meaning of her works often manifests in the resonant relationships created between herself and her audience, and between the audience themselves.

Lynn exhibits and performs extensively worldwide. Selected venues include National Gallery Singapore (2022), SFMOMA (2021), Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (2019), Framer Framed (2018), Science Gallery London (2017), Saatchi Gallery (2017), Palais de Tokyo (2015), The Barbican (2015), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (2013), Tate Modern (2010), Beijing 798 Art Zone (2009), and Singapore Art Museum (2007).

Lynn lives and works between Singapore and London. She is a Visiting Artist at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, Associate Lecturer at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and Associate Artist at ]performance s p a c e [.

︎︎︎ www.lynnlu.info




Sandra Johnston. Photos by Manuel Vason.

Sandra Johnston has been active internationally as an artist since 1992 in the field of site-responsive enquiry into ‘contested spaces’ working predominantly through performance art and video/audio installations. Johnston has held several teaching and research posts since 2002, including an AHRC Research Fellowship at the University of Ulster, Belfast, investigating issues of ‘trauma of place’. In 2007 she was the Ré Soupault Guest Professor at the Bauhaus University, Weimar. Between 2012-2021 she was joint-lead on the BxNU MFA programme at Northumbria University, England. Currently, she lectures at Ulster University in the Photography & Video Department. In 2013, Johnston published her Ph.D. research project entitled ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation of Doubt, Risk and Testimony through Performance Art Processes in Relation to Systems of Legal Justice’. Additionally, she has been committed long-term to exploring collaborative processes of improvisation, facilitating workshop encounters, alongside engaging with the development and sustainability of creative networks.

Witnessing Johnston’s careful mastery of pace, decision-making and silent resistance makes me think of her embodied gestures as intimate knowledge she shares with the space, and the objects she is interacting with. A new constellation of relations and alliances emerges, reminding me of possibilities of porous solidarity through gesture, action and space. Watching her gestures becomes an exercise in trying to decipher the new constellations of relations in the room. Like trying to work out a mathematical equation that is closer to an exercise of the imagination, rather than a sum.


Horizonless Hopes, Sara Sassanelli writing on works by Sandra Johnston and Monstera Deliciosa
︎︎︎ read the full text




Monstera Deliciosa. Photograph by Jana Astanov.
Kelvin Atmadibrata, Deepthroat, 2017, Kolkata Performance Festival, Kolkata, IN. Photo by Fajar Kunting

Evening Session in Folkestone

The Church of St Mary & St Eanswythe






Tiding continued into the evening in Folkestone at the Church of St Mary & St Eanswythe, a site of worship since the 7th century, with more vegan food and a further three performances by Monstera Deliciosa, Léann Herlihy and Kelvin Atmadibrata.





Kelvin Atmadibrata. Photos by Manuel Vason


A Knight No More is a site-responsive work involving a body performing a (silence-d) gesture of grass whistling. He seemingly answers a series of occasional screams but remains muted throughout the performance. Accompanying him are four stacks of paper scattered around the site with a segregated script for the prologue of Square Enix’s 2007 Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions- which the screams are also borrowed from. Adopting elements of masculine identities, death and potentially violence, the presence of the work in The Church of St Mary & St Eanswythe unintentionally echoes with the church’s Unknown Soldier.

Kelvin Atmadibrata (b.1988, Jakarta, Indonesia) recruits superpowers awakened by puberty and adolescent fantasy. Equipped by shōnen characters, kōhai hierarchy and macho ero-kawaii, he often personifies power and strength into partially canon and fan fiction antiheroes to contest the masculine meta and erotica in Southeast Asia. He works primarily with performances, often accompanied by and translated into drawings, mixed media collages and objects compiled as installations. Approached as bricolages, Kelvin translates narratives and recreates personifications based on RPGs (Role-playing video games) theories and pop mythologies. 

︎︎︎ www.kelvinatmadibrata.com







Léann Herlihy. Photos by Manuel Vason


Léann Herlihy is an artist and researcher based in Dublin. The methodological fulcrum of their practice pivots around academic studies in queer theory and feminist epistemologies which they utilise in tandem with live action, performance, video, sculpture and text. Pairing gestural action with in-depth research, their practice employs an emancipatory paradigm that actively destabilises gendered and sexualised dichotomies in an overtly heteronormative society.

Originally from Waterford, Léann Herlihy holds a MA in Gender Studies from University College Dublin and a BA in Sculpture, Performance and Spatial Awareness from the University of Arts Poznań, Poland. They were the artist-in-residence for Steak House Live Residency Programme, London [2020] and Assembly #2, Simiane-La-Rotonde, France [2019]. Solo exhibitions include the middle of nowhere, Project Arts Centre, Dublin [2022]; STUNTMAN, ]performance s p a c e[, London [2020]; Trojan Horse, STROBOSKOP Art Space, Warsaw [2019]. Select group exhibitions and festivals include Slow Sunday, Artsadmin, Toynbee Studios, London [2020]; Foreign Bodies, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw [2019]; Biennale Warszawa, Mokotowska, Warsaw [2019]; ZABIH Performance Festival, Lviv, Ukraine [2019].

Léann Herlihy is currently supported by the Arts Council [Visual Arts Bursary 2021; Agility Award 2021] and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios [Project Studio 2021-2022].

︎︎︎ www.leannherlihy.com

It's 18:32

We're building something here for you and me
A platform to recline on

regal.

I'm looking at you
thinking that your recline is arresting

Could this be a love letter?


f**gt, Madinah Farhannah Thompson writing on Léann’s work
︎︎︎ read the full text




Monstera Deliciosa. Photos by Manuel Vason and Tristan Broers

“Hey there, Monstera here. Good on you for reading this! Since you’re here, I thought you should know that (spoiler alert) the majestic photograph exhibited is by Andrea Abbatangelo and portrays the gorgeous friend and icon Keijaun Thomas as she graced the banks of the Warren right here in Folkestone. Today we’re also taking contributions for her funding campaign for her upcoming gender affirming surgery: keep an eye out for the collection trays passed around during the performance or do approach us if you wish to make a donation otherwise. Happy to take your email address and send you a receipt of the donations transfered. Ah, to top it all of, you might also be hearing, seeing, sensating (traces of) works by ARCA, SOPHIE and Bence Magyarlaki - bring on this moment of trans and queer excellence and thank you for your soulful presence today!

My name is Monstera Deliciosa. I am no artist, but have inhabited spaces and practices that some would call artistic. A she-they kind of womxn, I live through the joys of insurrectionist trans-feminism, the perils of visibility and the paradoxes - physical and philosophical - that existing outside of the gender binary brings (hi dysphoria!). My performance endeavours try to articulate this all - be it through the minutia of applying lipstick while hanging from a 10 meter high balcony or the grandeur of a sticky breath imprinted against a gallery window front. Neither here nor there, but mostly all over, Monstera tries to unsettle what is perceived as spectacular. I derive pleasure in problematising voyeurism, castrating viewership while activating participation. She’s usually not in it as a token for your diversity quota, so spare her from the tiresome limitations of the white-cube and pay me to pick up her one heel and wobble down the streets (or hills).  Hope you still like her, if you hate me!”

︎︎︎ www.monsteradeliciosapresents.com

Watching Monstera sit at a church pew flipping through theory books - casually engaging with them, gripping and disregarding them - I am reminded of how the things I read stay with me, blend into my life or just pass through. In this context those theory books look heavy, but also comforting to think about the loud cacophony of thinking that is always going on, like a white noise.


Horizonless Hopes, Sara Sassanelli writing on works by Sandra Johnston and Monstera Deliciosa
︎︎︎ read the full text



]ps[ hosts


]performance s p a c e[ strives to act as a home or hub for performance artists based in the UK and abroad, and we often host performances, workshops, residencies and talks by artists etc.



Rocio Boliver. Image courtesy of the artist.




upcoming


︎︎︎ seminar: Rocio Boliver - Decrypting Performance Art


A one day seminar convened by the legendary performance artist Rocío Boliver reflecting on themes of  pain, excretions, sex, old-age & politics. Sunday 9th October, VSSL studio, London.


recent


︎︎︎ workshop: FUTURERITUAL - Mythic Time, September 2021


This residential workshop, hosted by VestAndPage and Joseph Morgan Schofield, explores the (re-)invention of spiritual practices, the sacred, rites and rituals through performance art.

︎︎︎ ]open s p a c e[: Eleanor Dalzell Jenyns and kate stonestreet, May 2021


Eleanor Dalzell Jenyns and kate stonestreet are recipients of ]open s p a c e[ and will undertake a shared residency towards the realisation of their project collective attentions, anarchist actions.

︎︎︎ screening: Ekdysis II, Niya B, Friday 30 April (live at Last Fridays)


Ekdysis is an ongoing project, which is displayed through live actions, moving image and installations. In this iteration, Ekdysis manifests as a single-channel video following an autoethnographic journey in the land that holds the mythological events of metamorphosis.


Rocío Boliver

Decryptying Performance Art, a one day seminar


Sunday 9th October, 12pm - 6pm
in-person at VSSL studio, London, SE8 4AL

︎︎︎ venue information

︎︎︎ tickets: £10-£25


Decrypting Performance Art is a one day seminar led by Rocio Boliver, reflecting on key performances (via photographic and video documentation) they have created across the last 30 years of practice.

For this seminar, the artist invites 25 participants to spend the day with her as she examines five recurrent themes which continue to shape the aesthetic and surrounding discourse of her work: Pain, Excretions, Sex, Old-age & Politics.

In addition, Rocio will elucidate upon the three core aspects of their personal, performance art making methodologies: the Pre-performance, Performance & Post-performance moments. Rocio will share intimate details of these making processes through lively discussion with participants.

Decrypting Performance Art is conceived and convened by Rocio Boliver and produced by ]performance s p a c e [ with support from the Live Art Development Agency and VSSL Studio.

Organiser contact: benjamin@performancespace.org



 Images courtesy of the artist.


biography


I devote myself to transgress limits. I dig into human behaviour. I disrupt accepted reality, absurd as the one I situationate. I was born a seductive Nabokov's “Lolita”. I lived censorship, scolding, fear and guilt, typical of a repressive society. I break the conventional woman scheme. My aesthetic is grotesque, in search of severity. I’m a human reaction voracious hunter, consumer and provocateur.
- Rocio Boliver

Rocio has presented her work in Europe, Asia, North and South America. Since 2012, Rocío’s performances have focused on the ageing female body – a body, and a body of work, that she describes as ‘between menopause and old age’. She aims to aims to demystify the horror of old age in an ironical way, inventing her own deranged aesthetic and moral solutions for the problem of age. She revels in the cultural unease the ageing female body tends to provoke, and she embraces, on the one hand, shame, disgust, and embarrassment, and on the other, pleasure, laughter, and great beauty, in often dizzying and un-navigable recombination.

pricing 


Tickets are offered on a sliding scale from £10 to £25. All revenue raised goes directly to the artist and we encourage those who can pay a little more than the £10 minimum to please do so as this enables us to continue making our work available to all.

 
]ps[ will retain a handful of FREE tickets, if you are unwaged/financially precarious please contact benjamin@performancespace.org to secure one of these limed free tickets.


venue & access


VSSL studio, Enclave, 50 Resolution Way, Deptford, London, SE8 4AL.

The studio is accessed via a raised, fenced path. Step free access can be found via the carpark on Tidemill Way.

The studio has a wide door. There is an accessible toilet within the studio block.





upcoming


︎︎︎ seminar: Rocio Boliver - Decrypting Performance Art


A one day seminar convened by the legendary performance artist Rocío Boliver reflecting on themes of  pain, excretions, sex, old-age & politics.

Sunday 9th October, VSSL studio, London.



]ps[ is in a development phase.


This means we won’t be undertaking any large scale public programming for the time-being. We continue to act as producers, advocates and artistic comrades in the meantime, and we look forward to announcing ways to feed into our development in the coming months.

︎︎︎full statement on organisational developments

In the meantime, check out documentation of our most recent curatiorial projects:

︎︎︎ Tiding
︎︎︎ PSX

online


Our online offerings are currently closed, although we invite you to look back through documentation of our most recent programme: PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK.






Image: Ash McNaughton, Salvage, 2019. Photo by Manuel Vason.











Writings

]ps[ has always worked to foster  critical and poetic contexts for performance art. We are slowly making our collection of commissioned writings available online.










Madinah Farhannah Thompson

f**gt


This text is a response to I’d rather be a fag than your bird, Léann Herlihy’s performance at TIDING (April 2022).

TIDING was a day of performance hosted by ]ps[ at two historic sites of worship in Folkestone and Romney Marsh. ]ps[ invited three writers - Madinah Farhannah Thompson, selina bonelli and Sara Sassanelli - to respond to the six works presented at TIDING.


︎︎︎ about TIDING


Léann Herlihy. Photo by Manuel Vason




You build a platform of deep red church cushions
Carefully checking the alignment as you go

it's a love letter.

the red for me
the blue for you.
make yourself a platform
A soft place to land
or lounge
recline.

regal.

The build.

(create)
(make)

It's 18:32
They say "I'd rather be a f*g than be your bird"

And I ponder the etymology of that word f**got
bundle (a bundle of sticks)
f**got soldier (a dummy soldier)
f**got women (a women who picks up sticks)
f*g

and spit is not my reaction but something more moist loving.

It's 18:32

We're building something here for you and me
A platform to recline on

regal.

I'm looking at you
thinking that your recline is arresting

Could this be a love letter?

(Léann slowly builds a platform of deep red church cushions
Carefully checking their alignment as they go
Travelling along nicely as the platform grows)






Madinah Farhannah Thompson

and still i


This text is a response to Likkle More: A Walk, A Plot(ting), James Jordan Johnson’s performance at TIDING (April 2022).

TIDING was a day of performance hosted by ]ps[ at two historic sites of worship in Folkestone and Romney Marsh. ]ps[ invited three writers - Madinah Farhannah Thompson, selina bonelli and Sara Sassanelli - to respond to the six works presented at TIDING.


︎︎︎ about TIDING


Likkle More: A Walk, A Plot(ting), A Land, James Jordan Johnson. Photos by Manuel Vason.



I reminisce.
The wind blows from somewhere
And I am elsewhere.
Homelands are home
Wastelands are here.

I chew.

Thinking of coconut husks
thinking on
these husks
Remnants
And those who were left behind

I chew.

Thank you.
(I was offered a gift)
The gift of

pimento /pɪˈmɛntəʊ /
▸ noun
(plural pimentos)
1 variant spelling of pimiento.
2 chiefly West Indian another term for allspice. – ORIGIN late 17th century : from Spanish pimiento (see pimiento).


If you were to chew this for me
Make it ready for me
to consume
(and I am always consuming)

words
knowledge
fresh, clean air
Transported on it to
another place

And in another place this seed was gathered
Hard
Hardened
Travelled
With us
Against us

And now I chew.

chewing and reminiscing
holding onto the pressure
to respond

This, an act of responding
And response

and in a 13th century English church (who am I)
in this place

Always looking.
Around the room
At who is in the room
Wondering.
who I am in this room

and still I chew.





Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson

PSX: 10 hours // words of witnessing


This text is one of three commissioned works produced in response to PSX: 10 Hours, a durational performance event held at Ugly Duck in London in August 2021.

PSX: 10 Hours was the culmination of PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK, a celebratory programme marking the 10th anniversary of ]performance s p a c e[.


︎︎︎ about PSX


Rubiane Maia, PSX, 2021. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.




~ part 1: remembering is a work ~


I’m here
It’s been 204 days since i was at ‘PSX: A Decade of Performance Art in the UK’ - 10 Hours of durational performance at Ugly Duck

I’m here
It’s been 4,891 hours since i watched, since i attended, since i witnessed the unfurling and crossing of realities

I’m here
It’s been 6 months since i first asked myself ‘how do i write this? How can I document a space built to contain the imaginings of others? performances of the present, presence and the unpresented? Was the event a representation of this thing we call ‘performance art’? Was the event a figment of my own imagination? Was i, Lateisha, even there? How do i take in all this s p a c e?’

I am, very much, here right?
You, are, reading this, right?
I must rite what i write, right?
Okay, i call myself in
To remember what i must, what i can, what i feel
I let go of what i choose, what i do not have space for, what 1,000 words can not contain with the care i must centre, behold and write with

See, i was invited
To do more than watch, attend and witness
I was asked, to remember
To bring ritual knowledge to the practice of re-memory
Because i too,
Had to invite
Had to archive
Had to hold on to what can not be lost
Speak into myself
To open
10 hours
Issa long time
To remain steadfast, vigilant
To take note to the changes of air, tone
To free write out of my skin what i want to hold, protect and un-forget
Memory work
Is grief work
When your body has been mis-remembered
Invisibilised
Thrown into water
When your body, is made of flesh, earth and fire, songs and starlight
All Black skin and dream visions
All life and survival
Speak into myself
To remember is not always easy
To remember is not always allowed
To Remember is not always a given in this world

For it has done everything it could possibly do, to tell us, to tell me, to tell you, that the ways of the writer - the soothsayer - the griot - the witch - the grandmother -  the storyteller - the prophet - the holy - the guide - the healer - the masquerader
the spirit workers of enslaved peoples who gathered in shadows to learn the spell of their own name
For they all knew, the cost of the word is a price we still pay
The Written
Said,
“Speak into myself”
So here i am
Here
i am


~ part 2: Some Thoughts That Came To Me On The Day ~


Rubiane Maia // i think we share a knowing. We share cloth and hair texture. Did you know i was a coming? Did you know you were going to be witnessed? You pour water: soft memory + vessel. They point lenses at you, you ignore it. They cross your paths, your space, because it is not yet a complete circle. You do not perform. In performance, you set yourself free. Clay of Earth. All that matter is putty in your hands. You are moulding + shaping a new universe. i see those ghosts eating away at your back. A resurrection? A seance? A burial? No, a cleansing. A clearing.
An invitation

Anne Bean //
She shatters all these acts of intimacy
Reflections
And it hurts
To see her, hear her, feel her
Break
Her portals
Her entry points
Her requests for play
Step 1:
Make eye contact
Step 2:
Mirror her moves
Step 3:
Stay connected
And begin again
All curiosity and a lingering smile
It’s going now
She takes it all away
She is breaking
and we watch,
We do nothing but
Watch



~ part 3: because both of you ~


And you anchored me - both of you
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
All smoke and a clearing
Rubiane Maia
All clay and an undrowning
You kept me close
Kept me safe in the space
Because you knew what needed to be done
We always know, don't we?
In whatever space we find ourselves in
In whatever lifetime
In whatever story
It must be done
The shattering, the breaking, the un-fixing of a time that was never designed with our hands in mind
So we call in our gods, our ancestors, our spines and open-hearts
Call it all in
Call in, the returning of the gaze
And you looked right back
And I saw you
Both of you

Return to the smoke
Return to the clay
And i know,
And i felt,
To hold you
With my two eyes and body leaning against the wall
A heart break underneath my hoodie, my ribcage, my role in the space
I know you went there Rubaine
10 hours of ceremony, funeral rite and knowing
The Other place
Steadfast in ritual
Each foot
The unsevering,
Each foot,
A memory

How could they do that? How could they cut a foot, a hand… for rubber. For cocoa. For cotton. For sugar.
These plants did not ask to grow from our blood
They did not ask for our stolen names
Each foot,
A holding
Each foot,
A ship
Each foot
Took me a step closer to a future
Where our grief
With all its righteousness
All it’s reckoning
Will have a place
To be released

Into the Earth
Matter
Clay
Were you hot in that boiler suit?
Because you brought the fire
To the waters of what is still so hard to say
Tears don’t make sense here
Not in this space
I need to put this somewhere inside of me
Keep it safe
Come back to it later… in 6 months maybe
In 4,891 hours
In 204 days
I can cry now
For there was a vessel etched into your back

And She
She came with Black smoke
Incense
And a clearing
She
Black mother
Creator of this world
Baby suggs knew her name
The Ada knew her name
I,
Knew her name
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
For she
Came with tools
To clear
To cleanse
To create space
To move energy like the old ways
To burn it to the ground
To move in and out and around
Specific times to come through and from
2pm
She came
5pm
She arrived
8pm
She entered
Covered in Black smoke
And bare feet
And 10 mins at a time
Protection looks like that sometimes
A ‘brief’ appearance
A ‘happening’
A guidance:
Even when they broke the mirrors in your pathway. You rose. No more of your blood will be shed.






Sara Sassanelli

Horizonless Hopes


This text is a response to Sandra Johnston and Monstera Deliciosa’s performances at TIDING (April 2022).

TIDING was a day of performance hosted by ]ps[ at two historic sites of worship in Folkestone and Romney Marsh. ]ps[ invited three writers - Madinah Farhannah Thompson, selina bonelli and Sara Sassanelli - to respond to the six works presented at TIDING.


︎︎︎ about TIDING

Sandra Johnston. Photo by Tristan Broers.



Tiding, I will drift with or as if with the tide. Drifting as an endless process of journeying, as an impossible arrival, as a refusal of ascension, as a refusal of greatness, as horizonless. As a response to these works, I would like to express uncertainty, to stick with ambivalence and to feel out the edges of language, as much as the works themselves did.

1.
Performance for me can be a venture into the horizons of hope, a look into a deprogramming of time that allows for a temporary unmasking of fraught and conditioned desire. Basically, performance can be a place to have a moment. To not have to deal with the things that are continuously thrown at our nervous systems that make things difficult. Performance could also just be a break from sacrificing a sense of self in order to make room for constricting desires. What could these horizons of hope look like, if they take a moment of respite from being trapped in language? With these works, I am reminded that language can bind feeling into a tighter form, and sometimes can’t do the feeling justice.

When watching performance, I would like to be like Neo/Trinity in that moment between being in the Matrix and waking up in the goo of the pod. The moment of suspension between the awakening and the not remembering. Desire and fear are coded almost identically in The Matrix, and are the mechanisms used to control Neo/Trinity as they yield the most energy-generating responses from them. This proposition that desire is a tool of control makes sense, as desire is often generated by external factors connected to forces of domination. When thinking about the pods, I think of the horizonless space surrounding them and the water below. Even more so present in Matrix: The Resurrection than in the first film; the sense of scale gestures towards the endless forms of exploitation but also, sneaks in a sense of hope in its nonlinear potential. To quote Andrea Long Chu ‘For to exit the Matrix is not to know the truth but to discover the poverty of knowledge. “Welcome to the desert of the real,” Morpheus intones after Neo takes the red pill. There’s a reason the real is a desert. What good is the truth if nothing grows there?’. To fight with desire, is to try and address its goodness or badness, and isn’t that a difficult and unfruitful task - isn’t this constant searching also feeding the energy-sucking machines of the present anyways? I would rather spend time trying to get under it, between it, or even sit uncomfortably in its cracks.

2.
In Johnston’s work, I think of language as a limit or a threshold, one that she replaces with gesture and action. The threshold becomes a space to disrupt, where ambiguity of interpretation is temporarily visible. Gesture here feels important, calculated but also with space for the unknown to emerge - and with that comes a sense of relief. 

In both Johnston and Monstera’s work I am reminded of the possibility of a horizonless future, one that is more akin to embodied gesture, than descriptive language. Is a horizonless future perhaps a way out of being vulnerable to another’s desire? What if we were able to understand the dominant language of our desire as one so conditioned by the trauma of late capitalism, that investing in a settled, firm sense of self becomes a messy undesirable process of domination or elite capture? What could we imagine were we to be liberated from that? Not liberation in terms of a search for consensus or agreement, but a liberation fired up by a failure to define the self.

Watching Monstera sit at a church pew flipping through theory books - casually engaging with them, gripping and disregarding them - I am reminded of how the things I read stay with me, blend into my life or just pass through. In this context those theory books look heavy, but also comforting to think about the loud cacophony of thinking that is always going on, like a white noise.

Witnessing Johnston’s careful mastery of pace, decision-making and silent resistance makes me think of her embodied gestures as intimate knowledge she shares with the space, and the objects she is interacting with. A new constellation of relations and alliances emerges, reminding me of possibilities of porous solidarity through gesture, action and space. Watching her gestures becomes an exercise in trying to decipher the new constellations of relations in the room. Like trying to work out a mathematical equation that is closer to an exercise of the imagination, rather than a sum. In Monstera’s work, I think of the self as a flickering, oscillating ambiguous shape of ‘things to come’. One that is not about self-monitoring, or constant self-assessment, one that can get lost in the non-euclidian feeling of a dark room with no beginning and no end. Similarly, that is how Johnston transforms time, she sets time up to become a third space, one that enables these equations and alliances to help the viewer step into a different way of processing, or even just to witness one.

3.
I think of Johnston’s and Monstera’s refusal of language as a tool to break-open this third space, and I try to imagine what it is: maybe it is just a goo filled pod, a horizonless pool of water, or a squishy slimy membrane of mucus. 


Monstera Deliciosa. Photo by Manuel Vason.