We perform Holding by installing ourselves on a gallery wall for 4 hours. The performance begins with both of us standing facing the wall. We then move toward the wall and begin acquainting our bodies and minds with the landscape of the white wall and rust-colored climbing holds that are mounted to it. Slowly we reach to touch one of the 7 holds. When we are ready, we grip the climbing holds with our hands and feet and suspend ourselves on the wall, sustaining positions for several seconds to several minutes. We move slowly with awareness of each other and wordlessly offer each other support, sometimes sharing a hold or providing parts of our bodies to the other as physical support. We alternate between physically strenuous and restful positions. There is a quiet, but somehow peaceful, struggle for endurance. Always facing away from the audience, our bodies become forms in relation to one another throughout the performance. We become the art in a different way than performers enacting a piece in a performance venue. By literally attaching ourselves to the gallery wall and clinging to it for as long as we can, we comment on the often tenuous relationship between artist and the traditional gallery-centered artworld. The idiom, “hanging on by one’s fingernails” comes to mind when interpreting this piece. Holding eludes to the effort artists put into their artwork and art careers, while questioning the benefit or results of that effort. In this performance we don’t ‘get anywhere’ as the holds are not far off the ground and we are not climbing in a direction rather, we are seeking stasis. The unspectacular nature of our movements and duration of the performance give way to an appreciation of form, a heightened sense of time and awareness of detail for both the audience and performers. The audience becomes integral to the piece in their mirroring of our pace and silence. The gallery holds a stillness and unspoken intimacy among the people present. Through the piece gallery-going transcends an experience of consumption to one of presence.
Performed at ACRE Projects in Chicago. January 2015.
Photographs by Laura Moore.