“The paper is beautifully written and was a joy to read … a wonderful and articulate essay. Insightful, academic and creative, detailing a fascinating project… of very high standard and contributes significantly to the field.” Reviewers’ comments
Pay Attention to the Footnotes
Drawing on my experience of working in collaboration with the project, Open City, in this article I reflect on how this close encounter with a performance practice has enabled a critical shift within my own approach, from a mode of writing about to one of writing in dialogue with or alongside performance. Focusing on this dialogic encounter between writing and performance, I want to draw attention to a specific form of writing encounter within performance that emerged as a result of the collaboration. Open City is an investigation-led artistic project – led by Andrew Brown and Katie Doubleday - that explores how public space is conceptualised and organised by interrogating the ways in which our daily actions and behaviours are conditioned and controlled. Their research activity involves inviting, instructing or working with members of the public to create discreet interventions and performances, which put into question or destabilise habitual patterns or conventions of public behaviour. In 2007, I was invited by Open City to produce a piece of writing in response to their work for a series of publicly distributed postcards, and have since worked more collaboratively with the project on a phase of research investigating how the different temporalities within the public realm might be harnessed or activated creatively, and how movement and mobility affect the way in which place and locality are encountered or understood. In this article, I reflect on how different forms of writing – specifically the series of postcard texts - have performed in response to the work of Open City, focusing in particular on the use of footnotes and the different concepts conjured by the word. Rather than operating in their habitual role as the maligned referencing system of academia, footnotes are one of the ways in which the different temporal possibilities of writing have been explored and exploited within the project; as a creative and critical device for producing points of slowness and blockage within the act of reading, or alternatively as a form of performative invitation that encourages both textual and physical wandering by proposing tangents that demand to be – both literally and literarily - followed.