The Inscription of Art and Everyday Life: How Being Slips into Performance
This article analyses practices of cultural production that bear upon the relation between the actual (the indicative: x is) and the inscription or performance of the actual (the subjunctive: as if x were). In my analysis the act of linguistic inscription emerges as an analogy for these practices: name-giving ostensibly restores the indicative world to human experience while in fact contributing to the retreat of the indicative and to the restoration of the subjunctive in its place. I argue that certain cultural practices exhibit the same structure of inscription, retreat and restoration, and as such can be interpreted as instances of (non-textual) inscription: of writing the indicative world into a subjunctive performance of itself. I argue that this slip from indicative to subjunctive is acknowledged and problematized in some cultural practices (e.g. instances of readymade, conceptual and lifelike art; instances of theatrical performance), but is concealed in others (e.g. the TV news broadcast, the holiday snapshot, the online persona). As a consequence of this concealment in contemporary popular culture I identify an expansion of the subjunctive field to the point of its apparent ubiquity: the writing of performance becomes so compelling that the writing itself no longer shows.
Tamarin Norwood is an artist and writer. Her work addresses the possibility of reciprocation between art and writing; practice and everyday life; production and circulation. Recent artworks have been performed at Tate Britain, the London Word Festival, for 3:AM Magazine and currently through a live art residency at the Chisenhale Gallery. Recent publications in the field of performance and art writing include articles for AN Magazine (2010-11), Cannon (2011), and LADA’s Performance Writing study-room guide (2010). She has spoken on her artwork in the context of art writing and translation at Cambridge University and at Spike Island, Bristol, and has taught undergraduate workshops in art writing at Central St Martins. Tamarin holds first class bachelor’s degrees from Oxford University (2004) and Central Saint Martins (2007) in Italian & Linguistics and Fine Art respectively and gained her master’s degree in Art Writing at Goldsmiths (2010).