A scene with human furniture printed page
A scene with human furniture A scene with human furniture A scene with human furniture A scene with human furniture A scene with human furniture

A Scene with human furniture

A scene takes place between ‘you’ and ‘I’ and ‘we’. ‘I’ is the PAGE activated as ‘we’ read together silently while at the same time ‘we’ listen to ‘you’, the recorded VOICE.

A Scene with human furniture consists of: printed PAGE, audio recorded VOICE and audience performers, BODY. Audience members are instructed to read PAGE silently as they listen to VOICE.

The scene is enacted by dialogue. PAGE dominates VOICE (dirty echo or good dog) in a queer bdsm power play. VOICE must only speak repeating words that PAGE says. Additionally, VOICE must not use PAGE’s pronoun ‘I’. PAGE plays ‘I’ activated by the audience reading silently in their heads and VOICE plays ‘you’, an other, outside of the audience.

The audience may read PAGE ahead of time, skip over, re-read, choose not to read at all. VOICE sets the pace with its immediate and affective address. VOICE is sometimes non verbal (whining, panting) and often emotive (laughing, shouting). The power play in dialogue extends to the cross-disciplinary performance of the audience across forms.

VOICE is disobedient and veers off script. PAGE becomes the rehearsal for VOICE. The complex gestures of the audience (reading, listening, holding PAGE, remaining silent and seated, shifting uneasily) enact the narrative: the ‘I’ of PAGE and ‘you’ of VOICE come together to the ‘we’ of BODY i.e. the audience.

‘We’ (the audience) are narrative makers; instruments for the script and active performers simultaneously. The body is object: human furniture, sheet holders. PAGE and VOICE synchronise and instruct the audience to ‘stand up!’ The planted performers, BODY, obey: stand, kneel down and place our left cheek on the floor. Human furniture ends with our arse in the air.

A Scene with human furniture was commissioned by artist Chris Timms with PEER and ACME for the listening event Stucco Echoes Mouth: A Trembling of the Frame London, 18 October 2018. The work was also included in the conference Gestures: Writing That Moves Between at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 15 and 16 February 2019.