I’ve sent more emails. I’ve not received any replies. I’ve not heard from any venues within Glasgow, or in fact Scotland. When you are trying to unpick the motives of the individuals that run venues – and the agendas of these sites as organisations – this is incredibly frustrating. I don’t want to name and shame, nor do I want to make assumptions on what this means but I do want to note that I’m frustrated. Knowing that my practice is centred around community – and perhaps an attitude that people are more up for it than you might generally assume – I feel like I’ve been let down. I also wonder what this means for this blog. With an assessment based on my findings about spaces of culture, the site where artist meets audience, will the closed doors around me affect my grade?
I attended a show as part of Restless Natives Festival at 13th Note on Monday. It was the Specialist Subject Records tour featuring Caves, Doe, Personal Best and Shit Present. It was great. I was completely blown away by Doe, who legitimately made me feel like my ears were bleeding. Painful but I felt it. I felt it. Nicola, the lead vocalist, was incredible. The image of her standing on her tiptoes singing, jaw wide with eyes closed, sticks in the back of my mind as I type this. She was powerful.
Whilst there, I wrote the following text.
I sit and I realise this is the first time I’ve attended a show by myself in a long time. I think the last show I attended myself was a Milk Teeth show at Broadcast. The night we fell in love.
There is something about going to a show myself, which really makes me think about how important music can be to an individual and a community. Perhaps it is the lack of company to distract me.
I find myself thinking of two questions.
Why am I here?
What am I doing?
I know my answers. I like music and I like learning more about other people’s practices. I like seeing new venues, sussing the vibe and seeing how ideas manifest in the live event.
I’m also just here to have a good time. I was sitting in my house, alone, wondering how best to spend my evening. I knew this show was going on and I knew I would enjoy it. I knew it would be important.
So, I’m here.
And here time goes. It passes without my thinking about it. Well, it did until this very moment.
This idea reminds me of the “test” of theatre, of live performance.
Did you think about time? Did you check your watch? While these questions might not be applicable for some performance practices – I’m thinking of live art specifically – if a work doesn’t completely capture your attention then it’s not doing its job. It has failed to bring your physical and mental self completely into the moment of performance – the live. Your mind is elsewhere.
These thoughts are of course easily broken down. Firstly, a performance’s sole intention may not be draw an audience into the live moment. It may aim to inform, educate or provoke. If the intention of a specific work is to question the very constructs of performance then surely an awareness of time is a good thing.
This leads me to think about what I want from performance. I want escapism. Not all the time but I do seek it. To escape myself – forget about my own predicaments and be entertained. I want to think about issues that affect communities and not just me. I want to step outside myself and become part of a bigger picture.
I’ll return to some of the ideas mentioned above soon but first I’d like to talk more about Restless Natives Festival. It’s a really interesting concept and certainly something that feels like a bit of a revelation for this project.
I only heard about the festival because the show I attended was a part of it. I only heard about the show because Struggletown Records posted a link to an event page on Facebook. I only heard about Struggletown Records because a friend liked one of their posts on Facebook. What I’m trying to say is that there is something about the network of people and organisation’s around you that influence your understanding of what a city has to offer.
Restless Natives is a cross-platform multi-venue cultural festival that supports independent artists, practitioners, business owners and communities. On the tin, and from my short encounter with it, it couldn’t be more up my street. I think I’ll be sending another email. It aims to support individuals and communities who might not normally benefit from large scale arts ventures. They do this by considering ticket price and where any cash earned goes post event. It seems to be doing something very similar to what I’d like to do in the future. It uses DIY culture to support the creativity and livelihood of artists and the community it situates itself in.
I’m feeling inspired.
I speak about this all the time - it’s the power and passion of people that drives me to go on. This leads me to the realisation that it is the community that surrounds a venue that allows it to be what it is. Like I've said above, I want to feel part of a bigger picture. Is the heart of this project at attempt to find out where I belong?
Maybe it isn’t about the venues, the sites where performance is shared, but it is about the artists who are sharing their work. What does this mean for me as a curating producer? I’ve associated myself with curation because I’m keen to highlight my ability to support work on a creative level. What if it isn’t about me at all? Or if it is, maybe I need to align myself more clearly in the same plane as the artists I am working with. Has this project been geared toward my attempt to unpick the needs and aims of venues to ensure my work, as a curating producer, can situate itself within their remit? Have I been trying to mould my practice to work within the established structures in place in Glasgow without questioning what it is I want first and foremost?
I'm thinking back to the quote I reference in Touring. Without meaning to, I've approached this project by considering what others offer before I think about what I can. Have I been working in a way that supports the status quo rather than challenging it? Without a rigorous questioning process could it really be so easy to fall into a capitalist trap? By trying to research the aims of venues, have I been attempting to value my practice on its ability to slot into the systems put in place by others?