If we had had rain, could we have had a plainer pain?
On how many feet will you enter the stage to consult the Oracle of Francesca Hawker?
- Performance on Wednesday 21.12.2022 at 8 p.m.
- Louis Pasteurlaan 2, 9000 Ghent
- Free entrance
- Fourth Oracle of the exhibition Oracles, curated by Koi Persyn (komplot x KIOSK)
Annemarija Gulbe: Could you tell us more about the project you are working on right now? How did you encounter the sources of inspiration that led your artistic practice to this moment/idea?
Francesca Hawker: Earlier this year I was invited to perform at De Nor, a venue and a sort of social sculpture in Middelheim, Antwerp. It’s a big, stacked seating structure located in a sculpture park and usually the performer looks up to the audience from the bottom of the sculpture. I was going to do a performance where I directed various poems at the different parts of the audience depending on where they were sitting. But then, about two days before the event, I got an unexpected email from the event organizer saying they had received an extreme weather warning. So they had to cancel the performance. I was very sad. And on the day of the show, it was fine weather without rain or storm.
When I went to KIOSK, I was intrigued by the similarity of the seating arrangement. The former anatomical theatre that had evolved into the exhibition space matched De Nor, with the performers standing beneath the audience like lecturers. I thought I could use this echo to reanimate the poems and performance that had been planned but never happened. I'm working with sounds of rain and thunder to recreate the conditions that led to the performance being cancelled.
The role of the Oracle was to predict the future. The prediction about the performance that I was meant to do had a very real effect. It didn’t come true, it didn’t become a reality, but it made a new reality by being said.
AG: How do you navigate in this exhibition’s collective cycle of narratives and how does your voice exchange with the other stories and artists? How will your project interact with the other artworks, the approach of oracles, and/or the space of KIOSK?
FH: I work a lot with venues, and that includes the ambiance created by all of the things and shows that have happened there before. I’m interested in how people talk about and incorporate venues into their lives to choreograph their own social calendars. I also really like conversations where people talk about what they’ll do at the weekend: “Oh, we should go through here and then maybe there because it’s open till this time, but that would be a nice place to have a drink!”
In terms of KIOSK, I've been thinking about the fact that it is located in a school and a lot of students probably use the gallery and surrounding areas. Exhibition areas are also places to meet and hang out. I like to use practical objects or processes that fulfil needs. So I’m installing a coffee machine to the side of the gallery and my expectation is that people will use it because they'll want some coffee as well as art.
[Coffee machine noise in background.]
My work is contingent on other people’s work. If it’s collaborative work, it is important to me that our interests areshared and that there is, at the very least, an imaginary relationship between me and the people whose work I’m responding to. Those initial conversations at KIOSK, when we sat on a sculpture from a previous show, were important. It is impossible to develop a group exhibition without such moments. But there is also the feeling of being invited to a party where you don't know what everyone’s going to wear. You know the structure and the basics, but the details you will find out later, and I like that sense of anticipation. My guesses about what people are going to do are formative, as is my actual knowledge of what they will do.
AG: The Oracle’s spell heralds a turning point in someone’s life. We are curious to know what you envision for the future and how your performance will predict a shift in the narrative.
FH: The performance at KIOSK will be the “end” of my project at De Nor. So afterwards I'll probably feel a sense of relief and finality. I will feel like I never need to do the performance again, because the problem of not performing at De Nor will have been resolved by performing at KIOSK. But then I’ll get a creeping feeling of disappointment and loss. I'll inevitably feel that it could have gone better, that it was perhaps a strange thing to do.
About Francesca Hawker
Francesca Hawker is from the UK and lives in Brussels. She works across the fields of performance, poetry, publishing, music & stand-up comedy. She studied at the Dutch Art Institute from 2018 to 2020. At the moment she is teaching English and learning about grammar. She has an ongoing project called Cover Over Cover, initiated during a 6-month residency at MORPHO in Antwerp, in which she provides a book-covering service for embarrassing books. She sometimes hosts performance events, such as an experimental Open Mic Night at Oscillation Festival, organised by Q02, Brussels, 2022. Other recent events and exhibitions include: KONVOOI Festival, Bruges, 2022, Bad Covers, Loveday Gallery, London, 2022, Front Lighting, Back Channel, Winona Gallery, Brussels, 2022, Cracking Up and Staging Down: Tickle and Tackle Stand Up, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 2021.