Warden, The Warden

Review in Issue 13-4 | Winter 2001

Reviewing site-specific performance has its own limitations. Particularly when the very specificity of Warden forbids me from saying where or by whom it was performed. For this ‘Warden’ is a real one and we, the audience, are not quite sure if we are acceptable guests or trespassers. ‘The Warden’, at the end of her tenure, is taking a risk having us here.

The site, entered through a large garden of unfeasibly giant trees and plants, a scene from an H.G. Wells novel, is a large 19th-century family house with stables at the rear, converted for institutional use. It is also at a moment of closure about to be sold or at least have its use profoundly changed. Everything in the performance seems to be about taking stock. Just as the linen has been collected and stored in the linen room, the Warden can fold and count her past, now her wards have left. First she releases us into the house to wander alone like extras in a 70s British horror movie – and then summons us with a dinner gong to join her in exploring her own experiences.

We are at the edge of a breach of confidentiality, but what is site-specificity if not always that? Specificity is always likely to breach usual codes about what can be expressed. The bedrooms are empty, but for the Warden’s autobiographical installations. I learn much about someone I know only a little: a mother’s death, a childhood in Forestry Commission houses recalled in the grounds of this Hall… The subsequent lecture reveals something not quite closed yet. Like the site.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Site

A Secret Location

Date Seen
  1. Jul 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-4
p. 27