Gary Stevens, ‘And…’

Review in Issue 9-3 | Autumn 1997

Gary Stevens once said in an interview printed in this magazine that his approach to theatre is sculptural. It would not be unreasonable then to regard his latest piece ‘And…’, staged in the South London Gallery, as a work of fleshy kinetic sculpture. Yet this analysis would be simplistic and unfair.

Seeing Stevens’ work out of a theatrical context perversely reminds the viewer of its theatrical nature. The performers who realised this production were more than just objects in a white space; they retained their performer status. Despite the relative shortness and banal nature of the routine (performed in a continuous cycle throughout the day) and the lack of well defined characters, the performance nevertheless generated a fictional space which was as impregnable as any framed by a proscenium arch.

When I saw ‘And…’ none of the viewers were willing to come too close to the performers. Finding myself blocking the view of others I could have moved through the performers. However, like others in the audience, I opted to shuffle around the performance clutching the white walls of the gallery. In the meta-language of the piece, simply walking across the performance space could too easily have been misread as performance, arrogance or even narcissism – my carefully constructed real world cruelly compromised by fiction. The performers with their subtle movements, undermined and deconstructed the tics and fidgets we all call real. Crippled with self-consciousness, the space around them was as solid to the audience as a Henry Moore. Perhaps Stevens is a sculptor after all.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-3
p. 25