Muiderpoort, Amsterdam, 2001.
trams taken and trams missed
(biella, amsterdam, torino, 2001)
In this performance Smith narrates four stories from the point of view of a singular protagonist. The stories recount experiences the protagonist has had while commuting on trams in Amsterdam. While the underlying theme of the stories is a search for human intimacy, they are told in a deadpan, unemotional manner-further distanced by the fact that their narrator is telling them whilst skipping rope. The viewers are simultaneously confronted with two disparate gestures: the voice of intimate longing and the body under repetitive physical activity.
Storytelling in this performance occurs before analysis. It is as if the protagonist is sweating out the words by the physical action of his skipping. While the stories have moments that could be embarrassing, there is no shame in what's revealed. There is only action and the physical release of what the body had taken in. Somehow, perhaps by the physical act of jumping rope, the protagonist's agency is distanced enough to let the truth come out, without self-consciousness and before self-awareness.
Perhaps it is this distance, devoid of judgment, that gives the space for the viewer to enter. By speaking, the protagonist permits our own recounting of our own stories of our own longing. Whether we tell our stories to ourselves or displace them back to the artist, we take the first step towards recognition. Gregg has noted that after he performs, viewers, confusing him for his character, often confess their stories to him.
extract from text by Jill Magid, The Background behind Gregg Smith