Saturday 9 February, 1 – 4pm
Mistaken Presence has been a 12 month project at Lincoln Greyfriars building, the oldest Franciscan monastery in Europe. During the year, artists and curators, Alan Armstrong and John Plowman have curated a visual art programme on the ground floor. On the first floor, they have set up the first artist led studio spaces in Lincoln. A’ Denouement was the closing event, drawing upon the activities that have taken place throughout the project.
The first performance was Mind You Heads by Marcia Farquhar. The gathered audience were led into the main space to the sound of chanting from collaborator, Ansuman Biswas, dressed in monk-ish type dress.
We walked in between the three silver wheelie bins roped together and stood whilst Marcia Farquhar welcomed us with part sermon, part confession, part reflective ramble from her ‘pulpit’ wheelie bin. Explaining that she was wearing the raincoat of a recently deceased friend, she began with a story about her experience of the supernatural.
Suddenly she jumped out of the wheelie bin, rushed down the steps and ran to take her position in another pulpit. Here she responded to her previous words, criticising her gullibility in believing such ideas. So the performance developed, reflecting how the contradicting thoughts in our heads compete with each other to try and make sense of things such as death and the supernatural.
Then she threw in “kindness”. I’m not sure what the connection was. At this point Ansuman Biswas took his wheelie bin podium to join the debate, arguing that others should be kind for his benefit. It seemed shocking hearing him say that, but on reflection, there are a lot of people who don’t reciprocate kindness, preferring to expect it from others to further their own paths. It was thought provoking. Jem Finer took the third wheelie bin position, adding to the kindness discussion. He suggested those that are not kind should be stoned to death! Finally they ended up in the same wheelie bin or all in the same boat, in spite of their differing views. The wheelie bins were roped together, as we are all roped together through humanity.
It was unscripted by the three participants. I couldn’t remember why the bins…and Marcia reminded me of the key reference to one of Samuel Beckett’s most important one act plays, Endgame (1957), in which two of the four characters live in dustbins.
The performance was followed by a break with soup and cake served, all made by Laura Mahony. Next, we were ushered back in for Emma Smith’s A Call for a Song.
This was the final outcome of artist Emma Smith‘s year long residency in the friary. Interested in the history of voice and song in Lincolnshire, Smith has gathered the expertise of Lincoln based groups and people to compose a song entitled, “A Greaat Stitheram” It is in old Lincolnshire dialect. Gathered together today around a piano with the choir master from Lincoln Cathedral, Charles Harrison, we were invited to rehearse the five verses of the song and after one and a half hours sing it through. It was really hard. Luckily there was an enthusiastic group of primary school children who had rehearsed the chorus and sang confidently. The sound was improved by the fantastic acoustics of the vaulted space. But really it was “cowd as owt”.
The event was also the launch of the catalogue, beautifully designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio, with illuminating essays and writings.