Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is 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, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016. More recently, Emma trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, interested in how a heightened awareness of the body and breath, alongside meditation and attention practices, might be integrated into art-writing, artistic practice, pedagogy and research.

Project: Open City Postcards

A series of commissioned postcards that were publicly distributed as part of the project, Open City, Nott Dance, October 2007. A further online text at http://pay-attention-to-the-footnotes.blogspot explores the analogy between footnotes and acts of wandering, and provides a critical subtext to the postcards that might remain (without anchor) long after the original texts themselves have disappeared. The essays could be read on postcards distributed publicly across Nottingham during October 2007.

Open City is an ongoing project developed by Andrew Brown, Katie Doubleday and Simone Kenyon exploring how we live in, journey through and experience the human and built environment. Intervening in the space between the conscious and the habitual; the planned and the impromptu, the solitary and the mass, audiences are invited to readdress their position within their city and enter a space where new encounters can take place. Artists Brown, Doubleday and Kenyon have been working with members of the public over the course of the year creating discreet interventions within the public realm. Over the course of the Nott Dance festival in Autumn 2007 the artists invited audiences to contribute to Open City by participating in mass choreographed events, creating a series of invisible performances throughout the city which are captured on camera and beamed back live to festival venues. Everyday movement and gestures become part of a larger choreography where the line between performer and audience are blurred and everyone present becomes included in the work. Postcards were handed out following Nott Dance performances with instructions for audience members to carry out at points over the festival, with texts commissioned by writer Emma Cocker.

Conference: PSi #13 Happening/Performance/Event

Conference Paper - See http://www.psi-web.org/psi13/main.html
See full text at http://desiring-to-be-led-astray.blogspot.com/
PSi #13 Happening/Performance/Event
8th – 11th November 2007
New York University, New York, NY

Image: Sophie Calle, Suite Venitienne

Returning to New York University, where the first PSi conference was held in 1990, PSi #13: Happening/Performance/Event will ask questions of performance studies’ history and futurity. The invocation of the happening gestures to practices that emerged in the 1950’s as a mode of Avant-Garde performance as well as the critical approach developed by Michael Kirby for describing it, which are key terms for Performance Studies. The event has been theorized as an interruption that represents the not-yet-imagined new. This conference will comprise plenary sessions, panels, and presentations, in which contributors will engage the happening and the event and their key relationship to the history of the field. Scholars, artists, activists, and writers will come together to discuss, debate, and perform different incarnations of its history and to consider the horizon of its future. Performances will happen on campus, in the Department of Performance Studies’ Happenings Lounge as well as throughout the city in association with PERFORMA ’07. Over 400 participants from a range of countries will be attending this event.

In this paper I want to explore how the notion of errance – a form of Surrealist automatic drifting or wandering that emerged in the early 1920s - can be resurrected, and recuperated as a critical precursor of performative practices from the late 1950s onwards. At a formal level the practice of errance can be positioned as a part of a tradition of politically resistant spatial navigation or urban geography – where the Surrealist events of the early 1920s can be seen to anticipate the Situationists’ deployment of the dérive as a means to reflect the pedestrians’ experience of the city. Alternatively the notion of collective wandering or the search for the ‘everyday marvellous’ re-emerges as part of the vocabulary of Happenings and early conceptual work; where for example, it is evoked in Allan Kaprow’s description of the ‘Guided Tour or Pied Piper Happening’. However rather than conceptualising a trajectory of practices that share a ‘likeness’ with Surrealist errance, my intent is to approach it from a different perspective that resonates more with the ideas of this conference. More than simply a form of Surrealist automatism; a precursor of Andre Breton’s objective chance, or a symptom of psychologically driven compulsion-repetition, I want to present a case where errance can be understood as a form of proto-conceptual practice or pre-Happening: the moment where innumerable contemporary motifs and critical strategies emerge. In one sense, Surrealist errance operates as a model of purposeless repetition, according to the relentless obligation to a rule or system that is absurd, arbitrary or somehow undeclared. Errance thus presents an early paradigm of non-teleological performativity, for its searches are forever unrewarded, its goals always deferred. Alternatively it could be understood as a tactical process of declassification; where at times the relationship between self and other; body and environment, or between art and life becomes blurred through the performative possibilities of ludic role-play or the tactic of following another. Focusing on the nature of the categorical slippage created by the gesture of following within both Surrealist and contemporary practices, I am interested in how this ‘blurring’ can be read as a form of camouflage, rather than as true dissolution or non-differentiation: where it can be understood in both critical and compulsive terms as either a moment of existential crisis or as an experiment performed according to predetermined rules of the game.

Participating writers, artists and activists will include, but are not limited to:Fred Moten, Jerome Bel, Isaac Julien, RoseLee Goldberg, Laurie Simmons, Christian Marclay, Diana Taylor , Sadiya Hartman, Hannah Higgins, Karen Finley, Midori Yoshimoto, Carol Becker, Laurie Beth Clark, Karen Tongson, Alan Read, Rebecca Schneider, Branislav Jakovljevic, Hanifah Walidah, Richard Schechner, Jen Harvie, Marianne Hirsch, Gavin Butt, Jennifer Doyle, Karen Shimakawa, Philip Auslander, André Lepecki, Sudipto Chatterjee, Lois Weaver, Geraldine Harris, Peta Tait, Meiling Cheng, Shannon Jackson, Judith Halberstam, Freddie Rokem, José Esteban Muñoz, Nao Bustamante, Peggy Shaw, Una Chaudhuri, Miguel Fernandez, Joe Kelleher, Deborah Kapchan, Xavier Le Roy, Oliver Feltham, David Román, Jill Dolan, Tim Etchells, Amelia Jones, Ann Pellegrini, Carolee Schneemann, Michal Kobialka, Adrian Kear, Tavia Nyong’o, Marvin Carlson, W.B. Worthen, Judith Rodenbeck, Sue Broadhurst, Steve Dixon, Dynasty Handbag, Holly Hughes, Andrew Quick, Kalup Linzy, Elin Diamond, Ed Scheer, My Barbarian, Tracy Davis, Nicholas Ridout, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Joseph Roach, Yvonne Rainer, Jon McKenzie, Adrian Heathfield, Jane Blocker, Emily Coates ...

Writing: Are We There Yet?

Commissioned essay which interrogates the potential of boredom and anti-climax in relation to artistic practice and the programme at Bloc gallery in Sheffield; and which recuperates a value for the provisional and unresolved. The text explores how the act of waiting and hesitation - and how moments of indecision and disappointment - not only form part of or underpin the process of certain artistic practices; but also how they might wilfully remain in the exhibition of the work itself. Read the full text here.

Images: (left) Graeme Stonehouse; (right) Chris Clarke

" ...Waiting is an episode of time in which the quickening pulse of adrenalin and slow rhythm of boredom struggle to conduct the pace of passing hours. Witness the bored thrill of the anticipatory queue gathering force; or the restless lethargy that seeps into spaces where waiting occurs - the languid non-place of the airport lounge or the back seat of cars, child-filled and travelling along incessant motorways. Waiting is a threshold across which the future is conjured; the interminable limbo of all adolescent dreams; a chasm of pleasure and irritation into which the unspoken fantasies of the everyday might fall or take flight.iii Situational or abstract, it is performed along a spectrum of expectation that ranges from awaiting the familiar or repeated, to anticipating the not yet known. The duration of waiting is equally ambiguous, for it is inevitably too long and yet somehow never enough. Think of those involuntary moments of indecision when the unfulfilled wait is finally abandoned.

The nature of unresolved waiting, when an end or destination remains at a distance, creates the liminal experience of being not-yet-there; a period of restlessness or temporal vacuum in which a range of random, repetitious or equally resourceful practices might develop to occupy the void. Within the recent curatorial programme at Bloc, a number of artists have appeared to evoke the feeling of being not-yet-there by reflecting upon the more disquieting durational processes that underpin the making of work. They seem to draw attention to the habitually unseen or hidden experience of practice - the hours of inaction or hanging around; the doubt, indecision or disappointment; the relentless searching and waiting for something tangible to emerge or for ‘the art to happen’.iv Arguably there are stages of both intermission and inefficient labour in even the most prolific practice, however in this context such episodes are not only an implicit part of making work, but rather creep in from the periphery to be put to use at the heart of the work itself, where they become strategically emphasised or indulged; deliberately extended or prolonged. The act of waiting becomes the site of practice...."

Read more at the 'Discourse' section of the Bloc website here.