[-empyre-] fragile identities / taboo of destroying property

magnus at ditch.org.uk magnus at ditch.org.uk
Sat Feb 18 08:12:58 EST 2012

Dear Johannes,

There's much in your post to reflect on - Thank you. Right now, I will
just drop in a further brief addition about the performance I mentioned,
since others have inquired about it also.

> In response to Marie, Magnus mentions that he felt "lucky to participate
> in a performance 'going fragile', involving Mattin and other contributors
> to Noise and Capitalism. This was part of Arika's 'Kill Your Timid Notion'
> festival in Dundee in February 2010. It seemed as if people ('audience')
> couldn't bear the silence and the absolutely (radically) open structure of
> this collaboration. The performace and the notion of 'going fragile' made
> a real impression on me."  This was picked up by others, but i am not so
> sure (Cage's 4':33"  and his ideas on silence go back to the 50s) what
> surprised audiences, what made anything un-bearable, or why an open
> structure (an indeterminate structure?) would be considered radical?

To explain the performance (and I hope I do it justice): there were four
performers at one side of a large exhibition space. The lights were
dimmed. On the other side of the room, there was a scaffold/construction
of some kind (I don't recall exactly). Everywhere else were individual
chairs, which festival-goers occupied as they filtered into the room.
Eventually all seats were filled: little islands, each about 2 metres
apart from the next one. The performers then began to simply speak, using
microphones, about how they felt at that moment, beginning the
performance, introducing themselves and responding to the atmosphere in
the room, but beginning from the mindset of fragility. After a time, after
some talk and some periods of silence, one performer declared that he felt
somehow insecure because of the situation (because of the atmosphere,
because of the public's silence). He soon crossed the room to the scaffold
(this had been established through a stated ground-rule as a safe space,
off-limits to everyone except the four performers). The other performers
continued to speak about their feelings and at this point several other
people in the room began to engage and speak about what was happening... I
hope it is clear from what I've described that a drama unfolded, through a
kind of direct improvisation (just dealing with the immediate moment,
without much expectation or intent) and from this point the public really
entered the frame and were faced with some options, for example to accept
the premise of the performance or retain a critical detachment, to speak
up or remain silent, to recognize the choice before them to become an
actor and director and to do something about that, or to not respond. What
I observed and heard after the performance had ended, was that some people
felt very challenged by this situation - intimidated or offended, bemused
or wondering, overwhelmed or affirmed, as well as having many
contradictory thoughts and emotions.

I hope this provides some helpful clarification.

Best wishes,


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