Third Hand, 2019
The starting point for Vlatka Horvat’s performance Third Hand is a collection of scenes, images, and performance moments that other artists and writers have recounted to her from memory. Responding to this unruly catalogue of vivid fragments, all of which focus on the performing body, Horvat creates a work that is somewhere between collage, animated archive, partial re-enactment, and memory palace. Third Hand explores the ways in which performance lingers despite the processes of distortion, displacement, and erasure which take place in memory and over time, and which are amplified through the act of narration. The human body summoned in Third Hand is a problematic, transforming, and misremembered one – mistaken for animal, ghost, object, or machine; hesitant and determined, exhausted and persisting, ecstatic, working, resting, and playing as it is made and remade in language and in the moment of performance.
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, as part of City of Chicago’s Year of Theater program for 2019, is organizing an exhibition focused around the archive of goat island, a Chicago-based performance company, which has – over the course of its 23-year lifespan (1986 – 2009) and after – influenced generations of artists and performance makers, both in Chicago and internationally.
Titled …we have discovered the performance by making it, the exhibition will present materials from the company’s archive alongside new works by nine artists who are being commissioned to develop new projects in a dialogue with the nine performance works of goat island. As one of the invited artists, I have been asked to make a work that starts with an encounter with goat island’s piece It’s an Earthquake in my Heart, which I saw when it was first presented in Chicago in the spring of 2001.
The construction of memory – investigated through enactments of an unnamed disaster and through repetitive re-playing of its aftermath – was very much at the heart of goat island’s 2001 piece. After accepting the invitation to make a work in response to it, I have decided not to watch video documentation of the 2001 performance, but to make my work by summoning fragments, images, and moments of multiple performances that linger in the bodies and memories of other people. Deferring the act of remembering to other artists, performance makers, and writers, my response to It’s an Earthquake in my Heart is to echo this absent object by summoning other absent objects, via the memories of people who are also absent.
The contributors to the project, who have written their recounted memories in response to a series of prompts I have given them, are performance and dance makers, theorists and writers on and around performance. The donated material will form a growing archive of remembered performance moments, which will be animated and presented in different ways in the future. For each new incarnation of the project, I will invite different performers to work with me to re-present the material from the archive. The Chicago version of the piece – which will be performed in Chicago in June 2019 – is developed and performed with Michael Thomas, a co-founder of the Chicago-based collaborative group Lucky Pierre.
This project is supported by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) as part of the exhibition goat island archive – we have discovered the performance by making it.
Research and development supported by a residency at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago.
The following artists and writers have generously contributed material for the project (list current as of early April):
Aaron Landsman, Alissa Chanin Kolaj, Andy Field, Anna Krauss, Ant Hampton, Alan Read, Augusto Corrieri, Barbara Matijevic, Bojan Djordjev, Britt Hatzius, Bruno Roubicek, Caroline Bergvall, Cathy Naden, CJ Mitchell, Claire Marshall, David Williams, Deborah Pearson, Duska Radosavljevic, Edit Kaldor, Eva Meyer-Keller, Goran Sergej Pristas, Harun Morrison, Heman Chong, Hugo Glendinning, Ivana Ivkovic, Jana Dolecki, Janez Jansa, Jason Crouch, Jerry Killick, Joe Kelleher, John Rowley, Jonathan Burrows, Jovana Stokic, Julie Tolentino, Karen Christopher, Kate Valk, Lucy Suggate, Madeleine Botet de Lacaze, Mark Etchells, Megan Vaughn, Nada Gambier, Neil Bennun, Neil Callaghan, Nikki Tomlinson, Paul Hughes, Peter Petralia, Rabih Mroué, Rajni Shah, Richard Hancock, Robin Arthur, Rosana Cade, Ryan Tacata, Sarah Wishart, Season Butler, Selina Thompson, Simon Bowes, Simone Kenyon, Terry O’Connor, Tomislav Medak, Theron Schmidt, Tim Etchells, Traci Kelly, Una Bauer, Wendy Houstoun, Young Jean Lee, Zrinka Uzbinec