A MORNING AFTER is a performance project by Stefan Pente and William Locke Wheeler. .. ................................................................... .... ....... ....... It is a combination of drawing as a performative means to create movement, space and meaning, a form of presentation and installation that combines the display of video and drawings, spatial installation and the live production and presentation of a large drawing before the eyes of an audience. The performance can take place in a living room, our studio or in a small public space —a gallery or a space for performance art.

 

I show and I do at the same time. Doing so, I’m simultaneously on at least two fields. The first field is my individual experience of drawing, where I start off: I consider the quiet, attentive tension in the room, the interaction between my expectations, yours and those of the audience, the specificity of gesture, the texture of paper, the sound of drawing, the smell in the room – the vast, blank, empty paper. The other field is the intersubjective or social sphere. Here I draw, in collaboration and ex-change with you, upon a vocabulary of movements, signs and patterns that delimit the practice of my drawing. In this second sphere, I’m in drag. I’m distanced from the experience of drawing, and I create and negotiate its meaning together with you and the witnesses.

 

Each one of these non-discrete things is positioned in this space, and so are we. Positioned, yet in movement. Moving eyes, hands, brushes and pencils. Moving images and light. We are trying to make a space of witnessing, where a projection witnesses a drawing, a person witnesses a projection, a drawing witnesses its mirror image, a person witnesses a person, a projection witnesses a drawing, an image witnesses its mirrored drawn image. Everything is in movement here. Nothing is static. Constant restructuring is taking place. We are “changing outfits” constantly. Constant conversation fueled by real-time witnessing. Each source of heat is immediately made into an agent of the whole drawing – which is multiple drawings. Not one drawing, but many. The frame is the space: the room. In contrast to this multiplicity of sightlines, there is, in fact, one space. And everything occupies it, is moving within it.

 

Space of production. Space of representation. Space of research. Space of nourishment. It takes more than just entering this space together. In addition there must be a rite or method, a set of activities which also changes the quality of time, or constructs a momentary realm, which I experience as out-of-time, in a different time. It might include symbolic behavior – symbols and behavior of reversal and inversion, performative speech-by-means-of-drawing – to do something while making something. I pass through a period and area of ambiguity, a sort of creative limbo, experiencing the shifts in meaning existent within drawing as activity and sign as symbol. Drawing is movement.

               
           
   
          Two participants had a laughing fit during our drawing-conversation. This was certainly a signal, a signal to be translated in one way or another. Translation is constantly happening during conversations. If I could pinpoint one major deficiency in our drawing-conversation, it would be that I am not listening hard enough. Watching-listening. If I could pinpoint one major oddity of this drawing-in(-conversation), it would be that I am paradoxically so far away. How much distancing is required to get a conversation going?    
           
                 
    7 minute excerpt from video, total length 120 minutes 2 minute excerpt from video, total length 23 minutes            
     
The more I think about it, the more I think the whole thing has something to do with ritual and collective identity. We are watching. Taking into account the fact that this drawing would be less than it is, or not much of anything at all, without these two videos – which, as I already said, are also witnesses – we decided to draw live, in relation to others in the space. We saw that we needed witnesses to see one thing and respond to it while we draw (a) drawing. Merely drawing in front of an audience wouldn’t mean anything. We need other voices drawing-drawing at the same time. Witnesses witnessing-witnessing. A witness is static and in motion and vacillating throughout a spectrum of strategies that are uncontrollable. I questioned drawing as a performance because performance usually tries to manipulate the audience – which I didn’t want in this case. But here, we’re not thinking “audience and performers.” We’re thinking witnesses, presentists, and drawists.       Which reminds me that we owe the existence of this work to love, and to longing in the face of untraversable distances. I am indebted to differences that cannot be closed, to joy that comes from meeting half-way, to the emptiness of distance. . My friend Tara Herbst made the video of the clothing exchange soirée, and my friend Elizabeth Smullens was present there. Though I have not spoken with these friends for quite some time, they are still here in this space, albeit perhaps in a guise they would consider remote and alien to themselves now. The alienation which passing time affords is an important and positive aspect of this work, and I wonder what role . I should be playing at the present moment. Drawing or listening? I want to be a kind of psychic communicator, and I want to send energy. That is why I appreciate not talking when we make these drawings. We have needed a lot of time to finally arrive at the point where we can communicate by means of something other than a pool of preexisting words.  
         
We began to develop drawings together. Some of these drawings come into being witnessed by guests. We invite viewers to watch us draw, the process of making being a presentation, a gift and a multiplicity of presence that combines everyone. The amount of viewers depends on the size of the space. The function of drawing as celebratory, collective, performative and public practice (taking place before the eyes of an audience) manifests itself in the moment when the gaze – which, according to convention, is usually oriented to the completed drawing – becomes diverted toward the practice of drawing as dyadic activity: a composite made of the meaningfulness of drawing as an activity happening in front of witnesses, on the one hand, and of the meaning of the drawing as signs and language(s).        
 
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