Invisible Crowds

The following text is taken from Front Magazine, vol. VII, no. 3, p. 12, January/February 1996:

Over the past years Hayley Newman has produced a series of performances using microphones to amplify physical gestures. Her work has included a kiss in which a microphone was passed from mouth to mouth, the resulting sound amplified throughout the room. For Front Gallery the amplification is not aural but physically extends the singularity of her presence as a performer. A crowd will be gathering while Newman walks the streets of Vancouver; a video will document and slide projection of this gathering will make up the installation in the gallery.

She writes: “The performer in all his or her social representations is the object that creates the crowd… I want to try and reverse the equation by making a piece in which the majority (the crowd) become the viewed. …The crowd performs nakedly, that is without the fixed space of the institution to frame it… I am interested in the subtle meeting ground between reality and artifice – how a staged event can take place within an uncontrollable environment.”

The impetus for the gathering of the crowd in Newman’s piece is unspecified and emphasizes the character of the crowd as a dynamic, self-determining organism. Bringing it back into the gallery it will place the crowd in the position usually occupied by the celebrated individual.

Based in London, Great Britain, Hayley Newman has shown and performed in the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland and Great Britain. This is her first show in North America.

Supported by the British Council.

A description on the former Western Front website, a Hayley Newman quote, reads, “‘Invisible Crowds’ is a piece in which I wanted to try to get away from my own presence as a performer in my own work but to still make a performative piece. I basically wanted to question my position as a performer. I did not want to fall into the performer-audience role, but to break out of that compound. I think that that polarity directs a lot of performance artists: It is easy to market, it is easy to do it, people pay to see it—the work justifies itself within that framework. What is actually more interesting is work that does not justify itself in terms of commerce or market. Whether the piece does that or not is debatable, the importance is that the intention was to question the individualistic role of the artist.’”