Week two saw an expansion of the exercise from the standard theatrical conventions of audience and performer, towards the other forms of collaboration, in which the reading experience is mutually-designed and co-curated. One visitor worked away with coloured chalk, another read case studies of older women artists tackling essayistic work. Some readings were dialogical. Another experiment succeeded enfolding a reader in the Blue Mountains into the project, via Skype. Only the thesis’s presence remains solid and constant.
Peta is interested in the acts of generosity in play when visitors extend themselves to deliver her words back like this varying despite degrees of difficulty (and these are many as the accompanying photo shows). Lighting designer and creative collaborator Rachel Burke and Peta have also begun to consider what might be extracted from the text to make a work that stands alone.
The small scale of each reading event, conducted at the intersection between performance and live art and something else again, is rich with possibility, as is the sonic architecture – the chorale-like effect – arising through the exchange of voices. There is a whirlpool of emotion in the room as different kinds of energies move in and out. Feelings are tapped, memories exchanged. What is also palpable is the sense that the work invites collective meaning-making. In fact, it is only really “sensible” when two or more are gathered together. Something that transcends collaboration arises through the meeting of utterance and listener in a strange kind of song. By the end of the week the word bespoke is under the magnifying glass.
By Friday we have reached the end of page 239. Fifteen actual guests and one virtual visitor have participated in the project so far.
Responses have been enthusiastic, suggesting that there is matter here that transcends the boundaries of thesis as thesis, and may find other shapes or textures in the world. Essence de Exegesis?
Five days and one hundred and sixty pages to go.