I arrived to watch Mark Lowe packing ladders into Bin 15, seal the top and lock the door, and having officially missed my third M:ST performance for the day by mere minutes, I sat back on my haunches to contemplate the detritus left behind by performance art: the “residue.”
Earlier this evening I managed to miss Reona Brass’ Glossolalia: Speaking in Tongues. Disappointed in myself (and making the usual excuse about suburbia), I examined her leftovers: a tangle of barbed wire, ripped pages of The Indian Act strewn around a back corner of Truck’s basement space, work gloves, a pantyhose face-mask with braided legs. The fluorescent lights were on in the gallery. Was this what the performance looked like? I searched the remains as a detective would, mapping out the location of the perpetrator, the defendant, the act of violence. There was no blood – none that I could see, although there must have been some – and the artist herself was nowhere to be found.
While Reona has performed Glossolalia before, and Mark Lowe has previously banged on grain bins for various onlookers, these Calgary performances were new (as each performance is new: new audience, new space, new improvisations, new reactions, new materials…) I imagine re-performance as musicians see it: hitting notes, recalling melodies, re-creating something recognizable, and finding something new.
Several years ago, I chanced upon documentation of Mark Lowe’s original grain bin performance being screened at the Hop ‘n’ Brew. An honest to goodness farm boy, I imagine this performance was happening un-documented for ages before he managed to round up a bin and re-assemble it with a crew in the plaza outside Eau Claire Market. The space surrounding Bin 15 has changed into an urban landscape, just as Reona Brass has never unraveled barbed wire in the particular confines of Truck Gallery before. Has the detritus remained consistent? The sounds? The songs? And how did these acts begin? How will they end?
Having missed the flesh and blood performances today (until Mark’s performance again later this week) I am left with various documents of their passing: word-of-mouth accounts, photographs, videos, and leftover objects. Curiously, I’m enjoying the task of working backwards, piecing through evidence towards imaginary origins.
Although I will go out of my way to see Bin 15 live and in person during Mark Lowe (and Co.) performance on Thursday night… or at least, arrive in time to watch them pack up again.