Texts

a production

Background

A set of spoken-word conceptual performances, performed live by → ↑ →.

Philip Brophy & Jane Stevenson - Sydney Studio, Sydney © 1981

Credits

Script & direction - Philip Brophy
Performers - Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic, Ralph Traviato, Jane Stevenson, Anthony Montemurro & Leigh Parkhill

1979

Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, Melbourne

1980

Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide (excerpts)
SOME MUSIC - Latrobe Union Gallery, Melbourne

1981

Sydney Studio, Sydney (excerpts)

Jane Stevenson - Sydney Studio, Sydney © 1981

Overview

Where More Tedious Structuralism was playful in its sometimes absurd reduction of creative tropes to bare statements and theatricalised enunciations, Texts experimented with producing and staging the most severely theoretical linguistic work of → ↑ →'s catalogue. It was advertised as "a concert of scripted verbal pieces" and took the form of reading. No acting, no performance, no movement, no presentation. The work literally was the 'texts' being read (the bible, legal documents, official media statements, literary definitions), each of which approached the textuality of their subject to highlight its linguistic and semantic fecundity.

The title Texts was also a deliberate move to shift sideways from 'conceptual art', which in the latter 70s was the major stream of experimental practice within gallery and museum contexts. While some originating conceptual art in Australia was exciting to → ↑ → (the performative work of Lyndal Jones and Graeme Davis and the film installations of John Dunkley-Smith, for example), most conceptual art remained tethered to Beuysian self-flagellation or Cageian Zen-inspired fluff (not to mention the various hippy streams of 'performance art' which was often regarded as having conceptual gravitas). Informed by Philip Brophy's exposure to emerging French film theory strategies at the time, → ↑ → works like More Tedious Structuralism and Texts attempted to apply cinema deconstructionism to performance events.

Technical

Pieces

The Birth of Christ

(How does one write history?)

A linear chronological re-ordering of the events prior to and just after the Birth of Christ as written in the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke & John.

The Substitutive Nature of Language

(How does one speak?)

A play with a singular sentence ("At 10.56pm on the 20th of July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon.") looking at the differences between grammatical meaning and semantic meaning and their relationship - as language - with truth.

The State Versus The Law

(What is justice?)

A fictionalized court case involving the play between two opposing lawyers constructing stories to represent the truth of an incident: a doctor charged with murdering a just-born baby.

Jack The Ripper: Past - Present - Future

(What is a fictional character?)

A piece based on the history of the Jack the Ripper murders.