Ten performers are placed in the large space of the South London Gallery: they lie, sit or stand. The spectators walk in and around the ambiguous space created by the performers. It is a kind of exploded tableau vivant, except that there is movement. AND is a fitful, repetitive cycle which begins with a man bursting like a Jack in the Box into the space, triggering a chain reaction. Reminiscent of mechanical toys, the performers rehearse their limited repertoire of gestures and utterances. Their isolation, one from another, is disturbed by the behaviour of the others acting as triggers for their own movements. Relationships and connections between them form and reform throughout the piece.
During the commotion, a man withdraws in a bizarre game of hide and seek. The focus of attention is shifted around the different performers in the gallery. There is a teasing suggestion of a narrative which is never fully expressed.
These pleasures, pains and frustrations are not confirmed but detected through the subtleties of the performance. While the movements are naturalistic and freeform, there is an uncanny feeling that the performers are dehumanized by the ritual.
Gary Stevens is a leading performance artist. He has created performance art and theatre since 1984, out of his earlier preoccupation with installation and film. Previous works include If the Cap Fits, Different Ghosts, Animal and Name, which have shown both in the UK and abroad. Stevens has been commissioned to create performance pieces by Bookworks at the V&A, the Royal Academy of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford.
AND is a performance installation which will run through normal gallery hours.
AND is a South London Gallery commission funded by the London Arts Board. Also supported by the Arts Council of England, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (New York), and the Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary Scheme.