Some documentation of Personal Proxies, presented at Somerset House as part of Block Universe 2016, including the text written and read by Skye Arundhati Thomas, the video made by Afra Zamara and a Snapchat of Maria Sotiropoulou singing; all three were responses to my call out (see below) for assistants to take part in the performance.
the call out for assistants & brief
Erica Scourti is looking for assistants to take part in Personal Proxies, a performance which explores ideas of full automation and labour via ancient Greek afterlife myths.
Proposing her replacement by proxies both human and technological, the performance closes with a staged audition, where the assistants- potential contenders for the job- present their own text relating to the themes, written and performed ‘in the style of’ Erica Scourti, however they choose to interpret this. Meant as a humorous take on anxieties of legacy and the artist’s assistant as an efficiency-enhancer in an age of ‘digital assistants’, applicants would ideally see themselves as potential candidates for the job of Erica’s assistant.
Intro text: [screenshots of text written live by Erica]
In the second half, the assistants take over, presenting their own responses to the theme, to my work and to notions of replacement, reinvention and afterlives…
Skye Arundhati Thomas:
Am I alive? I awake as if from a dream. I look around me and there is new light.
It is a river that ripples softly under the shade of a tree, stretching out against the sun… a transparent sheet.
I see the city as a runny watercolour, leaking itself out…
dripping into oily rainbows spat out at the centre of the street.
THE PAUSE/THE SCROLL – THE TIME SPENT EYEBALLING
you call them – ges-tures of the digital
how about I, try and be honest, it is exactly as Foucault predicted, identity not only as the future of politics – but its currency –
eye/ball me digi/tise me – drop me down into the structure of commodity.
No room for error, the details are already folded in, the packaging, it shines, airtight.
A slippery surface, there is no room for something to slip in-side, and for that thing, the one that slips in-side, so quietly…. to be something that is true.
DIRT AS ENCRYPTION
Dirt, inside of which, exists the rhizome – the becoming, the becoming animal.
Words… are draped gently over the surface of things. Soft brushes up against the hard.
And the river, flowing all the way to our feet from the icy cold tip of the earth, brings with it a wind that pierces all the way to the bone, to the pulp inside of the bone.
Your identity wants to be unfolded: rolled out like dough, bending under the hands which hold it,
and I admire, how easily Erica, you share… yourself. Time is loose change in your pocket,
form looses definition.
MATERIAL THAT CAN’T BE READ EXCEPT AS TRACE
She took me into a dark room and gently unhooked her blouse, her sari, once a tall
serpent, lay unabashed across the floor. A scar tore down her back, it’s from… she
whispered softly, her face glowing…. another life.
Somewhere, at the end of a lo-ong curving nerve, a synapse misfired.
Beauty… is Causality.
WHEN EVERYTHING IS CLEAN WE CAN START AGAIN
The rain is running down the window in glimmering trails each drop sliding into the other,
and their collective wetness becomes me because there is something wet about me too, it is a metaphor, i think… for my sadness.
Because like I said I want to be honest and what I want to be honest about is that I miss her.
The first time I saw her was through a window like this, struck hard by the bullets of rainwater, and there she was out on the street, herself an oily rainbow, laughing… a laugh that leaped up and out straight into my ear, into the part of my ear, to be precise, that feels.
A sound I did not have to hear in order for it to glisten and to be wet and to take shape.
Is there room in language for the tentative? For a photograph to be loud? For the thing that is loud to be self-doubt? Is being tentative, the same as being indulgent? To indulge in the gaps that language allows, that it maintains – the maybe, the sorry, the probably –
Is it like, you once said quoting Zizek – a tolerant hedonism?
AN ECSTACY OF SELF-CATASTROPHE you wrote – and I think it’s okay that I didn’t understand what you meant – I like how the words spill out from my tongue, and then, maybe reach, the part of your ear that really feels.
And now I think I will change my tone, I am bored of it, don’t you see – how easy it is, to be bored of yourself and just like that –
WHEN EVERYTHING IS CLEAN WE CAN START AGAIN
I woke up this morning at half-past two, I had a dream that the earth cracked underneath me, and I jumped straight in. I wrote this down. ‘Head hurts, backs of legs hurt, the soft part inside of me hurts too. everything around me feels quite blurry, tearing at the seam. I tried to write about you but it came out dirty… cruel.’ I tried to start a letter ‘Dear Erica, The words burn in my mouth, fade fast … and young. Indeed for this purpose you are a fiction, and inside of you I can collapse all of the fictions I’d like you to be. I am pacing along a jagged coast, it’s edges, unlike yours, are sharp. I am afraid of falling in, instead I think I will climb in-to-you.’ I downloaded snap chat. You asked me to post a picture, and I didn’t know how else to change my shape. I pressed down on my face and a flower crown appeared, stayed on my head even though I moved, the filter bleached my face white and I asked, what trace of my history is being erased thus? What have I been carrying around, in the pigment of my skin?
Then she said to me, we were on a bridge and we were really very stoned, the river beneath us gurgling and coughing falling into the hollows cups of the riverbed.. and we marvelled at how this dissolved time – the past and the present and the future all one thick flow, rush against rock – and she said to me, I don’t think I can call myself a feminist. I rolled four more joints and watched Lemonade again in my room.
[a reinterpretation of Inner Planets (2014)]