For Documenting Intimacy, Amy Rosa has produced a video which you can watch below and a series of images which you can view by scrolling to the right.
The intricacies with documenting intimate performance are that it is, by nature, intangible. My experience with the documentation process is that it can be a useful accompaniment to the work, a way to express the essence of the piece through another medium. The documentation of a piece of intimate performance becomes a work in its own right.
For me, the point of intimate performance is the space and time between performer and viewer that only they share. When another ‘viewer’ is brought into the equation, be it a camera or filming device, another eye is present. The experience is being watched and this creates a different state of awareness, most particularly for the audience member. It drastically changes the charge of the shared experience, and this third action in the space switches the heightened awareness of the performer and witness from the action of the piece to the knowledge that there is a third eye in the space; a distraction.
We are so often being watched in this world. We live in an age of hyper awareness of a very particular sense of self that is often based on how others see us and how we perceive others to see us. I was brought up in the countryside, and when I moved to Glasgow I became aware of a very different sense of time in urban areas as opposed to rural. It didn’t, and still hasn’t, settled with me. I find the frenetic nature of city life sometimes overwhelming, and I know that many of my fellow humans do too. With my work, I want to create spaces for encounters that drop out of the ‘normal’ time/space continuum. There is a growing movement toward slowing down, reconnecting and re-engaging with the world around us, and I hold firm that art is one of the strongest methods of deployment.
With the documentation for this project, I wanted to capture a little of the magic of the materials I was working with, in particular the fragmentation of light offered by the crystals. In the piece I sat at a small table, grinding Tibetan incense before blending it with oil. There was the sound of a repeating low frequency tone permeating the room. The space was dotted with over a hundred crystals hanging from the ceiling. There was a path of small candles leading the viewer to a chair opposite me. I massaged the oil into their palms, keeping eye contact, offering a potential pause in their regular sense of time and space. This level of intimacy would undoubtedly have been warped had there been a lens present. I invited my partner to assist in a viewed encounter, so as to attempt a sense of documenting the experience (seen in the photo ‘lighthands’). It felt voyeuristic, even though it was a dear friend who took the photo and my partner in front of me, it made me as an artist feel unsettled, although the photo itself is wonderful in its own right. This makes me wonder how ethical it would be to document the intimate experiences of audience members in potentially vulnerable states for the reasons of art and documentation.
I like to document the space. My work often involves installation/sculpture and as such, the area before and after a performance becomes very interesting, the point in time and space bookending the sharing in-between. I have used film camera for many years, as I prefer the aesthetic qualities it can often give. I also love the fact that it is sometimes unpredictable, which mirrors the nature of live art and performance. For the documentation of this project I wanted to try using digital mediums too, including high definition video recording. From my experiments with different ways of documenting I know I’m still an analogue woman. I love working with film, in its own right, but my natural inclination for my work in intimate performance lends itself to a more old fashioned approach as I feel it can offer a sense of a different pace of time, particularly as you have to wait for the films to develop as opposed to the instantaneous nature of digital photography.
There is a certain potent aura in a performance space just before something happens. It’s almost like the space is holding its breath, readied for action. This sense of suspension I find interestingly mercurial. You can only really experience it at that point in time, in that part of space. I think it is vital to try to capture something of what occurs in these ephemeral creations we make, if only for our own sense of completion, and to offer a sense of what occurred for the curators of culture.
Amy Rosa is an artist based in Glasgow. Raised in the Norfolk wilds, her practice concerns how our pasts echo our presents and futures, our relationship to the ancient, and how we still haven’t learned.
We live in an age where we are encouraged to aspire the unattainable, and so we feel lost, because we never feel completion. As a race, we place value in the rational, the proven, the ‘known’, and we are encouraged to dismiss instinct, the unknown, the felt.
Amy Rosa has produced work for the Edinburgh Fringe, Buzzcut Glasgow, Centro de Arte Mutuo Barcelona, MPA Berlin, The Arches Glasgow, GDIY09 and has performed at the Barbican, BYOB, the Traverse, and for the Merchant City Festival, working in collaboration with, amongst others; The Art Shed Collective, Untitled Projects, Houston and Sharpe and Janice Parker.