Tempting Failure’s Opening Night, Noise Print Making and Remembering the Forgotten

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Anthony Elliot and Wajid Yaseen performing CrossingLines as the opening performance for the Tempting Failure Performance Art and Noise Art Festival.
Photo: Julia Bauer, Courtesy of Tempting Failure

By David LaGaccia

Traveling from a double-decker bus to a train to Croydon and down the path to Matthews Yard, the Tempting Failure performance and noise art festival began with the improvised vocal performance by Anthony Elliot and Wajid Yassen. Studio Theatre Utopia is a small black box theater with the crowd facing the two performers who were isolated on-top a large blank sheet of paper stretched across the center of the stage. It would be easy to call this performance as a form “action painting”, but Elliot’s emphasis was on the sounds being generated which then influenced his decision making on what prints he made. Throughout the performance he would use a large sculpture covered in wet black paint to make prints that resembled geometric patterns, linked octagons that looked similar to chemistry equations. Then he would run contact mics over the printed lines. Yassen remained uninvolved in the print making, but collaborated with Elliot by working the electronics and making vocalizations.

The creation of performance art actually has a closer relationship to the creation of music than any other discipline, where the act is live, and is destroyed as soon as it is created: The Rolling Stones lyric “Our love is like our music, its here, and then its gone,” comes to mind. Aside from the sound waves they create, where is the physical “presence” of music? Is it the body manipulating the instrument? the instrument creating the sound? the imprints of paint on the paper?


Sue Fox previewing her exhibition, The Forgotten (The Unborn), during the opening reception of Tempting Failure.
Photo: Helena Sands, Courtesy of Tempting Failure

Afterwards, Sue Fox gave a preview of her photo (documentation) exhibition titled, The Forgotten (The Unborn). Fox stood in front of the crowd and read aloud a poem that spoke about the nature of the work. Three photo prints were hung side by side as she read. This is life before it began, before it had a chance to live. One small child looked barely a foot long lying on its back, while another was covered with a sheet no bigger than a pillow case. The photos are startling and the circumstance of these prenatal deaths was not discussed: possibly from miscarriage, possibly from complications of a pre-mature birth. Documentation in performance captures life and actions as it happened; this is life unlived before actions could be made, before memories could be formed, but for those who witnessed them, they are memories that will not be forgotten.