Legwork Performance Series, Edition 1: Adoption

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Legwork Performance Series, Edition 1: Adoption

The creative practice of the collaborative Legwork resides in following an intuition for transcending boundaries of categorization, identification, and embodiment, any of which could be expected at any moment to materialize through a clearly defined medium. This intuition bonds with a distrust in fixed identities, as they predetermine actions, objects and phenomena and thereby exclude their becoming potentialities.

Legwork’s practice is choosing various ways of articulating this basic position and its possibility for transformation at any given moment.  The collaborative engages in the creation of non-textual articulations of its position parallel to and in dialogue with its editorial activities and active participation in the surrounding context, which happens through processes of observing, reflecting, articulating and sharing in discourse-based knowledge.  These non-textual articulations often move into the field of the performative and the visual.
Each outcome should be regarded as an occasion of the practice rather than as its artifact, although the presence of qualities of the latter should not be overlooked.

After participation in a discourse-related artist workshop, the publication the two first issues of its editorial project, and the creation of its choreographic video, Utopia, or Tobey’s Not Here, Legwork has organized this first performance as the beginning of its performance series—a series of occasions, the continuity of which is presupposed.

Performance in the case of Adoption is understood as a simultaneous condensation and expansion of Legwork’s existing practice and is intended to manifest the collaborative’s becoming. It might be considered a ritual in which fun and irony are operative.  It is also a mildly constructed gathering of people who wanted something to do and somewhere to go tonight. The idea of the performance came into being through a series of conversations that the members of the collaborative are always having and had while reflecting on the ways they would position the function and basic character of their current collaboration.

Adoption is centered on performing references to rituals of adoption.  The adopted baby is made from a Tasha Edenholm reborn kit.  A reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl and clay play doll that has been transformed in order to achieve as much realism as possible in resembling a human baby. Tobey Albright, a member of Legwork, created the doll in his individual art practice and made it in his own image. This baby is a performative work intended to embody the organic nature of discourse as it renders relations and their correlating conversations part of the object.

The object inheres not in itself, but as an attempt at its own articulation and materialization. With the object of the baby, Legwork builds its collective history through the idiom of performance, where the very practice of the collaborative is the object of inquiry.  Legwork is an object that, with a certain self-awareness, leaves itself open to its own constitution as elicited by a particular frame or context, as these inform how Legwork manifests its practice in the world.  The reborn baby as becoming social object appears ritualistically in the performance as a metaphorical condensation of Legwork’s becoming a group, while retaining each member’s singularity. Through lifelike social scenarios—i.e., participatory photography in front of a balloon wall installation, a reading of the baby’s astrological forecast, a family photo album slide show, and enjoying cake together—we produce relations to and through the baby, one another and participants.

Legwork is interested in staging as symbolic reference, insofar as this symbolic reference explodes its own actuality.  To put it as simply as possible: Adoption is a symbolic reference via a simultaneous direction and indirection, that is, a reference that questions the symbolic status of its own representation. Here staging emphasizes the parallel between the social situation of adoption (creating a new social unit without biological predetermination) and initiating a collaboration (establishing a creative unit which is supposed to become one body, but nevertheless does not overcome the primary differences among the bodies that form it).
Through adoption, we claim beginning rather than birth and thus disavow a romantic idea of the collaborative as one in which we become one and think as one, where backgrounds disappear, as this is impossible.  Adoption in this context should not be mistaken for an explanatory metaphor.  The very fact that we place these phenomena in one discussion is the message, the meaning or explanatory relation of which emerges through an individual’s participation in the occasion.  Participants place themselves in the situation and become both the medium and the message in the process of meaning-making, unless, of course, there is no meaning to be had at all.

Adoption and the creation of a new collaborative are related to one another through a desire for newness, for new forms of life and modes of sociality, for something that was not present and to a certain extent was never possible before. Overcoming impossibility is what characterizes both situations, and it becomes the primary motivation for the establishment of both units. The fact of their actual existence, however, validates their very being as ‘beyond impossible,’ and to this end manifests a possibility for articulation in the gap between media.

Adoption puts forth neither a predicted time framework nor an imposed distinction between audience and performance.  The medium used is naïve in that it is the carrier of a message to be represented.
The ephemeral nature of the performance is not considered a problem.  The baby will return to Chicago with its artist in a cardboard box.

Further, this performance is not an allegory of social, economic, or political issues.
Legwork came to this performance from a shared moment of initial collaborative meaning-making and excitement.  As collaborators, the experience of the evening is bound to produce us in different ways than non-collaborators.  We are equally bound to share meaningful moments and other wholly non-catholic moments.

A classical understanding of performance comes undone because we partially abandon the intention of fulfilling performance expectations.  If you come here and eat cake and dance and enjoy yourself, this is but one of many welcome possibilities.

Through the performance as non-descriptive, non-referential and non-illustrative, the object of the action, namely, the collaborative’s becoming, will lose its concrete materiality.  It will, more interestingly, become more than material, hyper-material even at the same time. It will be as material as the non-allegorical balloon wall, and as real as the take-a-picture-with-the-baby photo shoot could ever be.

One Comments on “Legwork Performance Series, Edition 1: Adoption”

  1. August 3rd, 2010 | 5:13 pm

    sophisticated idea, making this merge between pseudo-birth and manifesto, have a rich and energetic opening/performance!