Interview with PPL (Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle)
By Quinn Dukes
The summer is quite possibly the busiest (and liveliest!) time for performance artists. Across the globe, performance festivals, fairs and live-art series awaken the heat-hazed city streets. This weekend Time, Body, Space, Objects continues its programming on Spectacle Island (Boston, MA) with works by PPL, a Brooklyn-based performance duo (Esther Neff & Brian McCorkle).
I am excited that PPL is a part of the TBSO4 roster this year, especially considering the performance location. I reached out to PPL to learn more about their upcoming performance concepts and am delighted to share our conversation with you below. Enjoy and head out to Boston this Saturday, August 22nd! - Quinn
QD: I wonder what your thoughts are, pre-performance as you go into this work? Did the history of the island influence this work? If so, how?
PPL (Esther): The history of the island influenced this work a lot, as it says in Alice's Facebook description of the event, it has been a quarantining facility, a horse rendering plant, and a landfill. I've been thinking in quasi-satirical hyper didactic patterns about these three historical situations as large-scale social performances: I want to posit (demonstrate, in action) that affects, signals, and codes can be seen as (performatively framed as) ONE: "typhoid mary's," those first cases of a disease or virus, traceable to a single person where a traceable pattern began (location of viewpoint, agency), TWO: reduction of bodies into functional substances (as with the horses, violent transformation), and THREE: "remaining refuse" of action, communication, cognition, conation (garbage or affects). Each of our actions around the island will directly fail to perform these situations of affect (of history, action, etc), signification (of body, object, image, etc) and code (as communication, objectification, cognition). It is not possible to not smell the wax melted in the sun, to get burned a little pouring the wax into the sand in the shape of a horse, even when horse-becomes-symbol he is very lumpy and backwards.
Will the little field guides provide a bridge between sensate islands of the moment and theoretical/traceable/reduced/refuse of history or will nobody even look at them? Seriously, does that make any sense? I don't know why I have such an allergic reaction to both materialism and immaterialism, is the 3rd option some sort of methodological task? Will spf 45 be enough? What if it is thunder storming, will we still be able to use that telescoping red metal pole?
PPL @ TBSO4 Performance Statement: Arriving with small wooden suitcases and homemade field guides/workbooks, PPL perform processes of conation, cognition, and communication. Taking visitors with us, we seek affects, track signals, and code arrangements of materials laid down, gradually causing paths for sense to emerge. Our collective attempt will be to generate a diagrammatic theory about patterns, renderings, and relationships across the island through tactile, sensory, physical acts of becoming-with-and-as.
PPL performs operations initiated, situated, structured, and/or designed by Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle, often in collaboration with a flexible ensemble, members of local and global communities, and publics of individuals.
Working across performance disciplines and cultural spheres, PPL is a panoply of practices staging theorization as/of performance operations. These operations involve conceptual demonstration, representation, embodiment, projections of anticipated consequences, social framing, cultural organization, methodological experimentation, practical and communal research into affect, presence, consciousness, time, language and music, hypothesis presentation, and other performance practices. Emergent from operations are forms of opera, performance art, social engineering schematics, surveys and online interfacings, books and printed texts/booklets/workbooks, workshops, compositions, diagrams, actions, theater plays, a restaurant, a museum, a festival, conferences, tours, a fiscally sponsored nonprofit entity with a laboratory space, and many other forms of activity and performativity.
TIME, BODY, SPACE, OBJECT 4 is curated by Alice Vogler & Vela Phelan.
// 12 artists have been invited to participate.
// Each artist has chosen one day to occupy Spectacle Island.
// Each artist will come over on the first ferry and leave on the last ferry on their chosen day.
// Artists can only bring / use what they can carry over on the ferry.
// Artists must leave the island empty at the end of their day.
// There will be no remnants left behind.
// The theme will be commitment.