PEOPLE WORKING PROJECT - 2009 - ongoing
People Working is an enquiry on the successes and failings of the work ethic.
We claimed the title in 2009 as a way of putting a lot of questions and inter -related activities under one banner. It was the first time we had had an actual idea that was framing our work that actually felt real.
“WORK” is an accessible subject. Everyone does it. We can write things about it and lots of other people have written things about it. Alain de Botton wrote a book entitled 'The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work' and Stud Terkel collected a range of interviews in the 1950s and 60s USA, called 'WORKING – people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do'. The subject gets political of course and relates to money, power, fabrication, fulfillment, currency, values, endeavour, action, tools, organisation, buildings, meetings, producing, selling, sweat, toil and grind.
Whitechapel Gallery became our workplace for 2 weeks in 2010 as we engaged in a public process examining our relationship to the work of Claire Barlay
People Working Project was originally supported through Escalator Performing Arts, Arts Council England The Place, Dance4, The Junction, Colchester Arts Centre and Lakeside Theatre Essex, and Citylife Social Enterprise centre through residencies. Other phases were supported through Choreoroam residencies, Moving East and Independent Dance.
The project manifested in various ways through one-off solos, installations, vignettes. Conducting an investigation into performance sites we placed these vignettes in different work sites and looked at the different ways in which people are confronted and respond to performance activity happening within their environment. We also saw how our work shape-shifts in response to the qualities of the space and the reaction of the audience.
People Working Project sprouted our shows, The Devil and the Details, Hinterview, and Execute Now as well as commissions at Whitechapel, Pavlova's Dogs for SDT and Marks Measure, Maps and Mind. Our current projects TUG, Fictitious Truths and Etudes in Tensions and Crisis are all branches of this tree.
The activities and performances we made obeyed certain fundamental rules:
1)It blends with its environment to a degree, taking on elements that seems to fit with the activity that might normally expect to be seen there– but then subverts it.
2)It serves no tangible function other than the engagement of an activity that is intent, focused and requiring a certain rigor.
3)It explores a relationship with self, and going beyond the self through ritual activity. This happens through a variety of associations with different belief systems.
4)Within this intent activity there is space to play with a direct meeting of the audience – confronting or reflecting their expectations and confusion.
5)In the meeting of the two different worlds, that of performance and that of everyday, there is an acknowledgement of the distinct separation between the two, and of the porous gaps where one bleeds into the other.