Performance Project

"On one level, Open City can be located within a tradition of publicly-sited performance practices. This genealogy of politically – and more often playfully – resistant actions, interventions and models of spatial occupation or navigation can be traced back to the ludic practice of Surrealist errance or aimless wandering into and through the Situationists’ deployment of the dérive and conceptualisation of “psychogeography” during the 1950s and 60s. In its focus on collective action and inhabitation of the everyday as a site of practice, Open City is also part of a trajectory of artistic activity – epitomised perhaps by Allan Kaprow’s Happenings – intent on blurring the line between art and life, or in drawing attention to those aspects of reality marginalised by dominant discourses and ideologies. Performed as part of an artistic practice, non-habitual or even habitually discouraged actions such as aimless wandering, standing still, even the (non)event of 'doing nothing' operate as subtle methods through which to protest against increasingly legislated conditions of existence, by proposing alternative modes of behaviour or suggesting flexibility therein. Artistic practice can be seen as a site of investigation for questioning and dismantling the dominant order – or “major” language – through acts of minor rebellion that – whilst predominantly impotent or ineffective – might still remind us that we have some agency and do not always need to wholly and passively acquiesce. Life itself becomes the material for a work of art, and it is through such an encounter that we might be encouraged to conceive other possibilities for life. Through art, life is rendered plastic and capable of being actively shaped or made into something different to how it might habitually be." Emma Cocker

May 2007 Nottingham

A practical and theoretical research phase with artist/performer Simone Kenyon exploring the act of walking and the performance of public space. Research was conducted with peers, friends, students and recruited volunteers. An important part of this research was to open up an alternative space for thinking about and talking through ideas relating to institutional critique. The invited group was intentionally mixed to create an opportunity for practitioners and non practitioners to discuss and test these ideas together. We ran seven, two hour sessions over four days.


1) A group stand still at traffic lights for too long as lights turn from green to red and back to green.

2) A group observe and copy each others ways of walking.

Other instructions - attempt to get lost; consider codes of conduct through observation and mimicry; consider formations and pace of people as choreography; consider public spaces as amphitheatres; stand still somewhere busy until you no longer feel uncomfortable.