Here SBAB attempt to discover exactly what they’ve been making for the last two years:
they explore the origins of the show, their process and the finished product in order to work out what is happening, what has happened and what will happen…
Where does this show come from?
Gareth: If Destroyed Still True came from the image of a dead, naked man with his head smashed through a computer screen, surrounded by pornography. This image appeared to us in the middle of a discussion of the various household objects you could place your head into in an attempt to kill yourself (we really are a darkly humorous lot). It spawned a discussion about respectable and dis-respectable deaths, which led us to the idea of two bodies who were rotating through two potential deaths, one respectable and one dis-respectable, which led to the initial work on scenes in which I move Neil and Fraisia’s dead bodies around a space. The image we all found so intriguing is not actually in the show at all any more – often the way – but has sent us on lines of enquiry into a series of very odd directions indeed.
[sings] you used to be zoological now you are just botanical ![laughs]
Fraisia: We started talking about this cycle where one of us would be dead in the shower, the ‘un-respectful dead’ or ‘dis-respectful dead,’ and one of us would be dead in the sitting room, laid out properly. Gareth would move us between these states and the shower would be on, so we’d all get wetter and wetter- the dis-respectful state would literally seep into the respectful state. I think we also wanted a room stuffed with stuff from the dead person’s life. This idea of exchange between the three performers is still very much present in the piece- I think it’s been the thread that has guided us through the years.
Neil: We were also playing “human buckaroo” (have you ever tried balancing stuff on a person who is asleep/or drunk?) exploring trying to put things in the space, objects that make a person. It became less about this detritus, more about the bodies themselves. We realised that we could show the internal relationships between these figures on the outside.
We created what we called tableaux mort (or dead pictures) but they’re not that morbid or macabre (and neither are we. I think!?). We’re creating images that are decaying, that break down as you watch them, and transform. The theme of death gave us the chance to start with empty bodies and in a series these pictures could make up a story. This is still what we’d call quirk [quirky, happy work]. We are still playing for sure. It’s not just about death/undeath, now other factors have come into play in this work.
photo courtesy of Factoria Del Fuego
What is our process and how does it show to the viewer watching?
G: Our process is a genuine mystery. We set out as investigators into images that emerge in our exploratory work. We are led by these images, seeking out the meanings or the internal logic of what we need to do. This process is replicated in our performance, in which the presentation of the images leaves the audience to unravel the knotty mystery we have created. I think there is a nice symmetry in the way we work, using the mystery of our process to generate further mystery for the audience.
F: We work entirely collaboratively and the best ideas are the ones that seem to come collectively. As it has been composed over two years we’ve had the chance to re-visit sections, and find the precise meaning for ourselves. Viewers some times have asked us questions such as ‘who came up with that bit then? And we don’t know. I think we spend so much time with each other, reading the same books, watching the same films and playing with the same ideas that we genuinely have a mind-meld going on!
G: We all read a lot and talk through ideas or things we find interesting. We often find from this research that a striking visual or an intriguing idea will emerge fully-formed from collective thought. We then start to explore this further. Where did it come from? What does it do? How do we flesh it out?
F: We agreed to take things really slowly and do lots of research that would hopefully lend itself to a more organic process. So, we started this process and it was lovely- we knew we were really interested in performing a domestic setting and we liked the idea of doing a single performance that was split into two halves- a 2am performance and a 2pm performance.
G: And now we’re performing in a theatre at 8pm rather than a house at 2am and 2pm!
N: We’ve kept the spirit of the 2am show – that gyroscopic feeling of non-sleep pervades this work. Our process? We like messing around with stuff. We’ll find our way into things through making games and repeating movements. We’re not afraid of toying with visual puns or metaphors. There is language in there somewhere even though we do not speak; that is how you could say we are manifesting an internal logic to the piece. Our bodies are betraying everything, bringing in all our influences.
G: I have found that a number of people have said to me that the work we have been showing doesn’t “show it’s seams”, that it seems to blindside them in the way that they cannot see how it has been made or where it comes from. Perhaps we are a surprising group in this way because we also to an extent cannot see where it is coming from until the moment it is upon us. I said it before, but our process really is a mystery!
N: There’s no way the thing is perfect; its impossible to reverse or repeat an action a hundred times perfectly. Instead we tied our own imperfectable actions to the unravelling of character in the space. and we’ve gained a measure of control over the unravelling, so that we can now use it.
G: Our unravelling of the process is reflected in the unravelling of the bodies and characters, so the show actually articulates our process a lot more eloquently than we thought it could as we developed the ways and means of depicting this unravelling.
“A silent figure manipulates two bodies” who are these people?
(100 words or less, one attempt each)
photo courtesy of Lisa Furness
F: If Destroyed Still True shows several possible versions of the truth surrounding a bloody incident. We have tried to present a collection of live images that unravel – or fall apart, offering the viewer a chance to come to their own conclusions.
Are they the same person? Or different people or any other combination you can think of- we want all of these questions to be very ‘live’ in our work.
N: There’s a sort of wi-fi between us. One person drinks water and the other spits it out. The water almost looks like its been transported. We see our bodies as channeling between them. We osmosise. You’ll see a combination of actions ongoing. Our bodies create hybrids – half images of things. The actions allow different sides of the stranger to emerge from them.
G: They are a mass of contradictory states. They are cyphers, empty vessels waiting to be filled, each believing they can fill the others. Each take turns at being alive and being dead and being stuck in a state between the two. Each stands for the others and each stands alone. They are nothing and they are all.
Photo Courtesy Carl Newland