by Heather Warren-Crow
...'Eleven people took turns repeating the line ‘You ain’t heard nothin’ yet’ for a total of eight hours over the course of two days. This live performance, entitled Grayface, was an act of shared endurance – a group endeavour akin, in its distributed effort, to a relay race. The mise-en-scène positioned the featured speaker at a long table next to a row of identical bottles of water and in front of a laptop, a microphone and a small lamp. A video played on the computer, its screen visible only to the speaker. The same montage was projected on the wall behind her and, partially, on her face. As light and shadow from the black-and-white video flashed across her forehead, she focused intently on the computer screen, attempting to dub found footage of others speaking or singing the line ‘You ain’t heard nothin’ yet’. The clips were digitally manipulated to play at various speeds – from fast to excruciatingly slow – all but preventing perfect synchrony between sound and image. After thirty minutes or an hour of occasional success and awkward, sometimes laughable, failure (punctuated by throat clearing and sips of water), one speaker replaced another. The piece never culminated in the awe-inspiring something promised by ‘You ain’t heard nothin’ yet’. Instead, the audience standing in the gallery (which included speakers waiting to perform, speakers who previously performed and a crowd of listener-viewers attending the exhibition) was faced with the repetition of failed performative utterances.'
Published in Performance Research Journal
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