Book review of Perform Every Day, Joshua Sofaer
This artist's book seeks to establish a relationship between everyday actions and performance. It encourages us to go about our daily routine, as if it were a work of art.
"At times, the line between the critical and the cathartic gesture becomes blurred. There is sometimes little to distinguish the self-consciously resistant or creative action from a form of involuntary survival strategy or ‘coping’ mechanism. Certain actions are wilfully staged whilst others are performed compulsively in order to simply get through the day, where they are used to create individual ‘meaning’ in otherwise meaningless situations. Imaginative projections and daydreaming arguably present one of the more viable options through which one can try to escape or subvert a given reality. Here, dreams of utopia might reflect the measure of an individual’s present dissatisfaction, frustration and discontent. Small acts of resistance are also a way through which to protest against the increasingly controlled and legislated conditions of existence, where they function as slight or quiet performative acts of societal rebellion that - though predominantly impotent, ineffective or insignificant - remind us still that we have some agency and might not always need to wholly and passively acquiesce [...] The book, Perform Every Day, increasingly made me think about the difference between instructions and invitations, between obligations and provocations, and about the difference between telling someone to act and asking them to imagine. Instructions can be nurturing or protective; pedagogical or didactic; authoritative or legislative. Too often there is a sense that they are offered by a ‘knowing’ authority where they are seen as something you should do for your own good (thus containing both a sense of threat and promise). I guess that the ‘invitation’ is hopeful rather than assured. Rather than abandoning responsibility by being told what to do, the possibility of acceptance or rejection reaffirms a sense of individual agency by allowing the individual to choose whether, in fact, they are interested or perceive any value in the experience being offered. The invitation that is to be imaginatively performed is particularly resonant because there is never any real way of truly telling whether (and how) it has been realised."
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- emma cocker
- Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research enquiry focuses on the process of artistic endeavour, alongside models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.