The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Performance photography explained

outsiders, garry cook, performance photography, liverpool, look15, redeye, bluecoat

Performance photography.
Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear every day. Okay, okay, it’s a phrase you don’t hear any day. You’ve never heard it. It’s not a phrase.
It doesn’t exist. Or, it didn’t exist until 1.15pm on a Saturday afternoon in a darkened room at an arts centre in Liverpool.
I was stood at the front, with a huge screen right behind me, holding 75 white A3 cards which had words written on them. It felt like an important moment in photography/live-art performance crossover history. Well it did to me, anyway.
Born out of a desire to show photography to a wider audience – and in a more engaging way than has been previously attempted by anyone ever – my performance photography piece lasted four minutes. I did not speak.
This public airing of Outsiders – my documentary photography/direct quotes study of unique, unusual and misunderstood people, and how we as viewers judge them – consists of a video of me holding a series of images, with a musical soundtrack. The other me – the live version – stands revealing words written on cards which were spoken by those in the photographs. It’s a simple concept inspired by the short Bob Dylan music video for Subterranean Homesick Blues.

This is what was said about the performance:
‘Great performance!’
‘Awesome performance original & funny way to engage with a serious topic’

‘Quality personally, quality photographer, quality dedication and concept behind work’
‘It was pretty awesome’
‘Loved the idea of poetry with your work especially as social comment or politics and of course sex, all the best’
‘Awesome performance / photography’

And what they said about Central Lancashire Homesick Blues:

‘Central Lancashire Homesick Blues is a wonderful engaging visual piece’
‘Moved by images & text about Preston – we’ll drink some more..’
‘loved you bringing photography into the performance space! Greatly enjoyed it!’

outsiders, garry cook, performance photography, liverpool, look15, redeye, bluecoat

I think Paul Herrmann took this photo.

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to get the revealing of the cards in time to the music without looking at the screen. In my own mind, I felt a major sense of achievement. On Saturday afternoon of may 16, 2015, I was the greatest thing alive.

The art strands I used were:
Live-art performance
Verbatim theatre
Video installation
Documentary photography
Ethnographic study

Having said all that, I am not a natural performer and will never be. The most important discipline in all this is photography, closely followed by writing and journalistic intent.
Photography has driven this project from its inception in 2008 and it will continue to do so. This four-minute video – which was filmed by photographer Andy Ford, with music by Dan Jeoffroy – is the first stage in the development of what I hope will be bigger, more ambitious performance photography piece.
It became very clear during my research – and in particular talking to director/producers James Baker and David Slack (both of whom were hugely encouraging to me) – was that collaboration, and the support which comes with it, is crucial to the success of any type of performance production.
In the mean time, here is the video part of my performance photography work Outsiders:

NOTE: Outsiders was first performed at Bluecoat during a Redeye Photography Event – Hothouse – part of the International Liverpool Photography Festival 2015 (Look15).
It will be performed at Live Wire at 53 Degrees, the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, on May 19.
A special Preston version of the art-piece was also performed at the New Continental in Preston, part of Cultural Collectives, on May 21. Music by Frank Beaver (@FirstnameFrank) Here is the video part of that performance:

outsiders, garry cook, performance photography, liverpool, look15, redeye, bluecoat outsiders, garry cook, performance photography, liverpool, look15, redeye, bluecoat

cultural collectives, garry cook

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This entry was posted on May 18, 2015 by in outsiders, photographer, Redeye, redeye photography network.
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