Scored live work, approx duration 15. min
Standing on the cold stone steps, we stood on history. Could we challenge the narrative? The hollow eyes of old masters were gazing out at us burning holes in our back. In front of us were eyes of curiosity? Disgust? Irritation? Power? Admiration? Some hurried along, others took the time to stay with us. Listened to our message. We only had one word, but we spoke of many things that day. Injustice. Power. Control. Limitations. Freedom. Change. Our silhouette in red, a strong contrast to the stone walls behind us, we held our fist raised.
Staccato tears sounded and evaporated into the city noise as we stretched out the tape in our hands. Constricting our body, we slowly descended to the ground. The cold supporting our weight as an icy reminder of what was. What can no longer be. We laid here, in our vulnerability. Waited until the moment was right. Until we could bare it no longer. With shaky legs, we scraped us up from the ground. Still constricted, but no longer willing. Getting up was hard. We didn’t want to fall over. Standing meant too much for us. With powerful legs, we pushed away from the dirty step beneath us. More people had gathered now. Invested in our resistance?
Our eyes met with those in front of us, we shared that moment.
I was scared that day. Scared that we would provoke danger for our safety. Scared of the institution. Of passers-by. We had a woman on each side of us, looking out for us. We put our trust in them. From more than two thousand students, only the four of us had showed up. Were the others not concerned? Had they labelled us? Our will? Or were we simply the ones that had to push harder than the rest? Had an innate desire to burn the fuel of revision? Revolution? I wrapped us in red that day. Red, the colour of courage. Blood. Visibility. Dominance. Death. Love. I gave us time to present our concerns.
Our contribution that day lingered with me. I still think about us sometimes. Wondering if we could have invited others to join us? To participate? Or whether our standing there alone and exposed, was stronger in its own right? We wouldn’t exist, or be necessary, without the others. Because we are not here alone, we didn’t do this to ourselves, and we cannot create change only for and by ourselves either. I feel that our body is a strong tool, flesh and bones, breathing, pulsating, to connect to others - hoping to tug in them, strings either forgotten or overlooked. By privilege, by disconcern, and through taught patterns of belief.
We said something that day. I know they heard us, the ones who stayed. Maybe, unsuspectedly, the ones who hurried past us heard us too? A glimpse, lingering on as an echo of reflection?
Next year (2023) will be the first time in history that a woman (Marina Abramovic) will have a solo exhibition in the main galleries at the Royal Academy (RA) in London
The text is written from/to my guerilla performance fragile performed on the steps of the RA at International Women’s Day in 2019
First performed as a guerilla-performance at the International Women’s Day in 2019. On the steps of the Royal Academy in Mayfair, a long-standing male-led institution for its first century of existence, fragile prompted attention to women’s rights and equality. The performance is an ode to the Suffragettes, yet not undermining the fragility of our current unbalanced society. Through a non-verbal yet demanding protest, Lisa made the personal political. Wrapping herself in packaging tape, limiting her capability of movement, the constraint also becomes a tool – a motivation for change.
Performed on the steps of Royal Academy (London), Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery (New York)