Non-Action #4 (of stopping and being social)

Non-action #4, as part of res(is)ting / repos comme résistance

June 20, 2021
Berge du Crochet,
118 Boul des Prairies, Laval, QC

“There is no protocol,” I announced to my current guests, “Aside from the ones that guide our being together under Covid rules. But otherwise, I’m not directing how we spend this time together. If you want to talk, you can, if you want to read, or zone out, you can. We’re just here and this just goes as it wants to.”

I somehow felt compelled to say this to everyone as we settled in, perhaps because there were artists in the ensemble who were familiar with my work, and the history of this project, and I projected onto this awareness an as-yet unspoken question on their behalf: “So what are we supposed to do, this time around, now that we’re here?”

I also think that creating a set up to come together and “do nothing” might bring with it a set of expectations: are we meant to be quiet and meditate collectively for the next two hours? Or attempt to commune with nature?

In a past iteration of this work, I went on to explain, I felt the need to impose (in a gentle way) a space of non-talking. Not meditation so much as just being – with thoughts, with each other. However this time, I feel no such need. I just want to hang out. And this collective space, our coming together, is not in the express service of listening to the environment or observing the goings on around us but in being together and spontaneously sharing. In whatever way that should come about. Perhaps this is an unconscious response on my part to the fact that we’ve been in isolation for several months and are finally out in the world in public places, meeting new people. Being social. At last. It feels like a true novelty.  So this time around, this occasion for (and particular brand of) “doing nothing” is not so much about putting a halt to any activity but about not defining what this space should be. It’s about being in an activity that isn’t intending to achieve anything beyond its just being. Participating in any way that seems genuine (and dare I deploy that overused word – authentic) in a convivial coming together.

And this is what authentic non-doing is looking like for me, right now.

With thanks to HS for once again driving Villa, and SC, DM, MJ, M+J, and SC for the lovely time spent and nourishing conversation shared.

Author: Victoria Stanton

Montreal-based performance artist, writer, and educator Victoria Stanton explores live action, human interaction, video, film, photography, and drawing.

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