The excitement of our planned performance was short lived on the arrival of the day as we encountered our first problem with sourcing the pigs blood. Although previously arranged, we could not get six pints as hoped for and were forced to improvise!
On Thursday 14th March we were at a stage in which we were able to experiment with spectator reactions to the space with a work in progress showing of our installations. As ours is a duration piece we could not show any of the content that we will be exhibiting on day however we did try and allow our class to feel a sense of isolation the lepers would have felt once taken to the common to die. We took our class to South Common and simply asked them to walk alone in the space for ten minutes.
What have I just done?
A four hour durational performance portraying three different types of treatment that Leprosy patients in the 12th century had to go through. Taking inspiration and information from the South Common in Lincoln, where once was the ‘Hospital of the holy innocence’.
Leprosy patients had to give warning to people when they were moving so wore bells on their bodies, this was our first station, wearing underwear and a robe with bandages wrapped around us we tied bells to our ankles, arms. In the next hour I walked up and down stairs in silence listening to a soundtrack of the south common and the bells, whenever anybody walked through I stopped still and let them read the information about the leprosy patients that was around my neck. This instalment of our piece was enduring, tiring and hard work. I had ringing of the bells in my ears all of that night.
The question that’s being going around in my head over the last few weeks is ‘how am I going to feel while standing in a bath of pig’s blood?’ personally I have been feeling an array of emotions about the task in hand.
I see this as any other performance, before any performance I feel nervous and excited. Yet with this one I feel slightly scared. After having so many challenges to face over the last few weeks of sourcing the blood to health and safety regulations it all gets a bit over-whelming. In my head I think “how disgusting” but I have to think that I am ok with my own blood so why not a pigs.
One of the main challenges was sourcing the blood, going into the butchers and asking for animal blood isn’t really a usual thing. Especially when asking for a substantial amount. I felt nervous while going into different butchers and asking for the blood, as you didn’t know what their response was going to be, however I think we were happily shocked at what they said some were quite happy to offer it us and others said they would not be able to get it themselves as they just get the meat.
Performance day comes around and you have sourced a tin bath, scrubbed off the rust, made what feels like a million and one justifications to display throughout your piece and spent hours arranging the space, insuring everything will run smoothly on the big day. You go to the butcher who you have been in contact with for weeks about collecting enough pig blood to semi-fill your bath. Alas! They don’t have the blood!
This is the situation that raised its ugly head on the morning of our performance. The vast amount of blood we were searching for is hard to get hold of at short notice and so finding a way to adapt the performance without compromising it was the aim of the morning. A brisk walk up an extremely steep hill managed to get us half a cup full of blood but that was not going to even cover the bottom of the bath, let alone be enough to bathe in. After racking our brains of ways to adapt the performance, we thought about using raw meat. Down the hill we went to purchase liver, kidney, leg joints and flesh of a pig. This would still provide the smell we wanted for the performance and would offer a similar resemblance to that of blood. We decided that we would arrange the meat around the bath and rub it over our skin in order to get the blood from it and put the blood we managed to obtain in the bath as originally planned.
Initially we planned a duarion pices starting at 12pm, finishing at 6pm. However, due to the issues in the morning we didn’t start until 1pm and finished at 5pm due to a previous illness of one of the members of the group.
Oh wait! There’s more….