Simone Kenyon and Neil Kenyon - To Begin Where I Am…
19 April 2009
Neil dials a number on his phone and amplifies it so we can all hear – it's Simone and it's great to hear from her, less because I know her (I don’t know her) but more because it is apparent that this phone call is live, happening now. She tells us she is about 30 seconds away and as the noise of the street begins to give way to more echoic tones, footsteps and then the sound of running – Simone bursts through the entrance to the studio at an electrifying pace. Attempting to foreground her new presence in the room, she jumps into Neil’s arms, displaying herself to us like a gymnast. Though, just as quickly – Neil disappears…and…it’s all a bit of a confusion – it felt like Neil should have stayed? But it's hard for them (perhaps for all of us) to be in the same place let alone the same time. And this performance becomes an attempt at demonstrating this difficulty in a variety of ways, from the delicate to the explosive.
A connection is played out along a blue cord which is threaded through Simone’s ear and which she uses to try to get Neil closer – he is back now and I feel pleased – I want them to be together, it feels more complete for all of us this way. The blue cord, which Simone breaks once Neil is close (how close is close?), is a way of creating and showing a relationship over distance, making distance intimate, a small victory perhaps?
As the two of them, wearing swimming costumes and life jackets, attempt to hold their breath and keep count of these durations, we witness another struggle and the impossibility of being in the same time. Neil can hold his breath longer than Simone.
A series of repeated actions, a dance reminiscent of Goat Island; these things seem somehow to lead us through to a moment where breathing is not distanced by time but instead through a two-sided harmonica, a more material thing, as they ask again, ‘what are the boundaries that come between us?’.
This work consciously places incongruous elements next to each other, so we can’t quite know, or we can’t quite say. Perhaps, we are left instead to find our own way through, to find out what is between ‘us’ (spectators) and ‘them’ (performers)?
Neil is leaving once again, but, like Simone before him, he is with us on the phone – telling us what is between him and us – and there’s a lot. He is in the city, Waterloo Station and it’s full of intrusions into and onto what was once a natural landscape. Perhaps therefore, their crude attempt at creating a storm (a natural force, a natural disaster even) with silver foil and a drum, is a reaction to the separation with which we are constantly faced, particularly now, when digital and virtual architectures give illusions of intimacy.
Faced with too large an expanse, Neil and Simone don’t give up – they keep trying, the storm is coming, they keep having a go and they do this stuff together no matter what it is and no matter what is in-between them.