2012, The NewBridge Project | Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

"Observe always that everything is the result of a change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and to make new ones like them."
—Meditations. iv. 36 Marcus Aurelius

5 performance artists (Roddy Hunter, Anna Kalwajtis, Sabina Sallis, Justyna Scheuring, Kate Stobbart) have been invited to present new works relating to the idea of observation as both a continual, non-conclusive process of learning that happens in the present, and an instantaneous judgemental awareness which leads to a conclusion. Could performance art be an act of observation? Is a performance viewed by spectators or by observers? If by observers then what new expectations and responsibilities does this entail? And so, if all present are observers, what does it mean to be an observer? Bringing their own methodologies and philosophy to these questions the artists will use a variety of styles and mediums to show their observations within the context of the event, space, time and themselves.
Observation, according to Judi Krishnamurti does not necessarily imply drawing conclusions and building personal views. Instead of the accumulation of knowledge, a time-based, conditioning function he identified with the past, he stressed observation as a continuous process of gaining knowledge, a timeless process continuum that happens always in the present. Such observation, he asserted, frees the mind of its conditioning by discarding psychological dependence on the past. Observers are those who can see and act; articulating their alertness and perceptions; responding with their bodies, intellects, emotions to an ever-changing reality. Their presence is a medium in time and space. Observation and action concretises the cognitive process within the time of its happening and in this way opens up an interaction between perception and reflection; between participants and between the subject and the formation of purposes. Performance artists are those observers who are able to perceive, collect and perform their observations through an intensified presence, through symbolic acts; who have themselves become living structural observations.

Warpechowski writes, “The ambition of performance art is to grasp what is common to all forms of art, that is the moment of creative action which precedes artistic formalization.”
It is the process, the unfolding, then, that is important in performance art. At its beginning a performance has no conclusion and even when a performance is deemed finished, its end is inconclusive. What happened in between? Do we observe in a performance that, by the act of perceiving we are responsible for what has happen? All of us present at the performance participate in that moment of creative action, what have we created together?
photos by Ben Jeans Houghton