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

The Communitas of Stillness - Emma Cocker

From Passivity to Potentially: The Communitas of Stilness. An essay by writer Emma Cocker including recent research with Open City on the notion of stillness. Published on peer-reviewed online journal m/c.

"...The practical and theoretical research phase of the Open City project was initiated in 2006 in collaboration with artist/performer Simone Kenyon. During this phase of research Open City worked with teachers of the Alexander Technique deconstructing the mechanics of walking, and observed patterns of group behaviour and ‘everyday’ movements in public spaces. This speculative phase of research was expanded upon through a pilot project where the artists worked with members of the public, inviting them to attempt to get lost in the city, to consider codes of conduct through observation and mimicry, to explore behavioural patterns in the public realm as a form of choreography, and to approach the spaces of the city as an amphitheatre or stage upon which to perform. This culminated in a series of public performances..."