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Thursday, 5 February 2009

On Tuesday I attended the wedding of two friends at university. I had been asked to be the best man and although this 'marriage' was in fact a series of performances using the ceremony as a format rather than a 'real' wedding I still took my responsibility seriously....

I knew I had to make a speech and this was something that had played on my mind greatly in the weeks running up to it. I'd jumped from one idea to the next of what my best man's 'performance' was to be yet when finally confronted with the situation (the wedding itself) I simply couldn't go through with what I'd planned this not being down to overwhelming nerves but more from a desire to get something sincere across rather than the contrived, solipsistic things I'd been considering doing on the day.

When the time for me to do my thing came I abandoned my planning, got up and spoke. My immediate experience of marriage and the subsequent attitude I've formed towards this has almost solely been formed by the breakdown of my parent's relationship and as a result I now view it with great suspicion. This was one of the first things I mentioned and it relates to something that's been playing on my mind very much recently; an overwhelming sense (or preoccupation with the phenomenon) of failure in much of the work I'm making at the moment.

I brought up The Daren Aronofsky film 'The Wrestler' in relation to this. I really enjoyed this film (I'm not sure that 'enjoy' is the right word) because it reminds me so much of a great Elizabethan tragedy; in 'The Ram' we have a character who ruins any opportunities he has for redemption, at repairing the relationship with his estranged daughter or when given a possibility of finding happiness in Cassidy, this is turned down. The protagonist ends up destroying the opportunities given him not because of circumstances out of his control but because his very nature lets him down, his personality flaws bring about his demise. Despite its unrelenting tragic qualities there is, nevertheless something very redemptive about the film, in that it portrays us as we are; extremely fallible and very fragile.

I think this is where interest in the phenomenon of failure stems from; the strange fascination in why as human beings we seem to get things wrong over and over again even when (and especially in some cases) when we have an easy solution staring us in the face. What I found strangely compelling about 'The Wrestler' in relation to this is how even though the audience can clearly trace Randy's demise out ahead of him, he still embodies a perverse heroism...the short-fallings in his personality that have driven his daughter away from him and push him to desperately pursue his final battle imbue him with a strange grandeur.

The 'marriage' of my friends Richard Grange and Hayley Dixon although not a 'proper' wedding ended with the two of them both signing a piece of paper, a gesture symbolically cementing their friendship. The gesture implying a commitment just as would be made during a real wedding ceremony; what I find really interesting about this is that to my mind the commitments and the subsequent risks that an artist takes pale almost into insignificance when faced with the difficult personal choices we end up having to make throughout our lives. A phrase that is often put about at college is 'risk taking' as an important element in artistic practice, yet in some respects being involved in the 'wedding' and reflecting on this on a personal level has made me re-asses this; that these so called 'risks' would be better viewed as opportunities, as chances to fall yet also to come across something different and exciting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey giles
you should check out fellow bloggers performance lecture Embracing Failure
citing examples of creative failure in DeDomenici’s life between 1988 and the present day, including an attempt to target the guns of HMS Belfast onto his mum’s house.