Video: Cara Tolmie’s Myriad Mouth Line, 2011

Cara Tolmie will be performing as part of The Voice is a Language on May 4, but in the meantime, I’ve been considering her recent work as part of a forthcoming publication The Sensible Stage, edited by Bridget Crone and published by Picture This, London. The book comes out in May, and I’ll put up the book launch details soon. The following is extracted from the essay on Tolmie’s work, and focusing in particular on Tolmie’s ‘Myriad Mouth Line’, a piece Tolmie performed last October.

The artist notes with a certain wryness:

“Everyone likes to be sung to, and maybe you can play with those desires. The emotional dynamic of performance and the feeling of tension within that space can be subjected to a kind of dispersal, like a discharging of emotional tension that somehow also has the potential to shine a criticality on whatever has come before it. I felt this way about the use of Sinner Man by Nina Simone at the end of Inland Empire [directed by David Lynch].”

The insertion of an incongruous emotional component into the performance points not only to the salient limits of audience expectation, but also to the conditions through which meaning is made, as well as how meaning is (or is not) permitted. In other words, the acceptable flow of performance is unacceptable to Tolmie.

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