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It’s quite a strange thing, I dunno, finding someone you don’t know. And then, how do you get to know someone you don’t know? I don’t know. Maybe you put some advert out in a newspaper, maybe that’s a bit complicated, maybe it is just a friend of a friend. I guess when I said, I’d like to be that person, I thought it would be quite an odd but yet interesting thing to do, arrange a time with someone you don’t know, walk into a room, decide this isn’t normal from the get-go and you both agree to that. But then you find out about each other through this really contrived situation. Or maybe it's about some kind of reciprocal situation when you each get something from it. I don’t know, yeh, but I like the idea of an ‘on-point’. Like you come and you’re definitely there for that period of time so you kinda got to make something happen. It’s not unstructured like, an hour goes by at work and you do nothing, this is quite tightly structured with a wide open-ended realm of possibilities that could come out of it.p.122
I finished Guitar! in one afternoon. This is quite unlike me, I am a slow reader easily distracted, but that afternoon I couldn’t stop reading, I was completely drawn into the story of the couple.
You asked me to select something in response to Guitar! I didn’t find this easy. My first two ideas were discarded as not quite the right fit, too related to other things that I am thinking about just now, only to be recycled before being ultimately rejected in favour of Lygia Clark’s, O eu e o tu (The I and the you), her 1967 proposal for an event.
The proposal is an invitation to a binary embodied interaction, an experience of someone else through the connection of hearing and feeling. Communicating without words, without language. Clark intended the proposal for strangers, which reminded me of the strangers meeting in Guitar! – an alternative framework for interaction where you don’t know how things will play out.
If you google image search this work you find a series of different images of it being enacted. Documentation shows various couples reaching for each other, wearing blue boiler suits, their postures a frozen moment in some kind of intricate dance. I show one of these images to my eight-year-old daughter and she immediately points to the black tube that connects the two figures and says, ‘That is to keep them together, so they don’t lose each other’. I send the images to you and you too are struck by the cord, to you it directly speaks of dependency. It is funny how I didn’t see this straight away but we are both right, the cord speaks volumes. You see it not just as the child and parent dependency but, the ongoing dependencies we continue throughout our lives, how they are reworked into our adult relationships and how we continue their search.
Your structure uses are verbal in essence whereas Clark’s is more about the physical but they are both about connecting to someone in a different way. I am interested in how you describe your parameters for your meetings. It reminds me of how I often think about the workshops I teach like this, there is a structure – a set amount of time, materials and sometimes an idea all of which I can predetermine but the rest, or what happens within that space and time is out of my control. Clark’s sensorial objects and your encounters are like this too.
 Lygia Clark Proposal
A proposal made for a couple in which both the man and the woman wear plastic boiler suits. Each boiler suit contains a lining made up of different materials (plastic bag with water, vegetable spume, rubber, etc.) which gives the man a feminine feel and a masculine feel for the woman. A hood, made of the same plastic, covers the eyes of the participants. A rubber tube, like an umbilical cord connects the two boiler suits. When they touch each other, the participants find small openings in the suits (six zips), which give access to the inner lining. Translating them into the sensations felt by their partner. In this manner, the man finds himself in the woman and the woman finds herself in the man.
Debjani Banerjee is a visual artist and researcher. Her research interests include workshops, participatory practice and archives. She has worked in education roles in various institutions and organisations in Scotland and is currently the Curator for Learning at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
“What kind of tool will I use to make this noise? Scythe, flint, melon? There is no tool to make noise, only a happenstance wrong wielding of an awkward implement.”
Helen McCrorie Guitar! begins as a diary. Written at snatched moments, the entries speak of a mother’s exhaustion as well as moments of revelation and wonderment, witnessing her child’s development and the sounds he makes as he plays and learns to speak. The joy and surprise of play is echoed in the poetry on the page.
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