Performance Art Workshop: Gary Stevens
By Susan Collins, on 25 February 2014
This performance art workshop was designed and guided by Gary Stevens, artist and lecturer in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art. The workshop participants were from both graduate and undergraduate programs of the eight departments of the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka. Performance art is not part of the curriculum of the Faculty at the University of Dhaka and is therefore, for most of the students, a new experience within their academic environment.
The workshop was a step towards introducing a variety of media and methods within the framework of institutional art education and encouraging interdisciplinary practice. Gary Stevens is a veteran in the field of performance and has conducted many workshops with art students in different countries.
This workshop was part of the second phase of the education exchange programme between the Slade and the University of Dhaka, which has, since 2010, been supported by the International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education (INSPIRE) Project of the British Council.
Lala Rukh Selim
The participants of the five-day workshop were asked to collaborate on ensemble performances. Simple systems that govern the behaviour of the performers required them to observe and listen to one another closely in order to copy, respond and build on what they have seen and heard. They also must communicate clearly within the group. As artists, the students were invited to engage critically and constructively in the development of the emerging pattern.
The students evoked a space through a verbal description of imaginary objects as they gestured to one another to indicate the objects’ place, orientation and size. The performers’ position on the floor establishes the relationship that the objects have to one another. The quiet and empty interior that emerges through the accumulation of details is in stark contrast to the frenetic and noisy manner of representation, as each student repeats and adds an object of their own.
The aim was to encourage discovery through the practical process and to be surprised by the results. A number of exercises were developed and modified. The deceptively simple experiments emphasised the means and manner of representation through live performance. The workshop aimed to blur a distinction between objects and events.