The sight of an analogue billboard on the roadside today would catch one off-guard. There’s no moving image or neon light screaming out at the eye. There’s only a series of letters from the English alphabet, arranged in different permutations everyday over a hundred days to create phrases, quotes and sentences. They imply a ritual of change where bodies invest physical labour in arranging the letters across the board. The phrases speak to everybody and nobody in particular, and stand as seemingly absurd instructions and provocations for the reading eye; one could rehearse them in a private navigation of bodily precarity.
Each phrase begins with a verb and intends to incite action. The Actant has produced the text from his rehearsal notes (what he calls “micro-systems of knowledge”) from performances over the years. He calls them “velocities” in their intent to create movement and function as counterpoints to static occupation of the body in space. A rehearsal unpacks what is internalised by the body and dismantles it to create a new set of dispositions; the notes then become trigger-points for more instances of dismantling. How does the text feel on your eye, tongue and skin? The regime of the body accommodates the phrase and rehearses it to effect a change in temper. How do we see the world under the condition of an instruction? What is the nature of the mark it leaves on the performing body?
The board, a public entity, conveys a private intent here and takes over the road as a spectacle where the text becomes both an oral and visual stimulus. It interacts with the individual body on the street as the board looks outward from the premises of the institution, while exciting active iterations in the direction of political critique. The board looks at power and invokes palimpsests of gestures that form the historical body, while holding their weight in text for the span of a day. With its words as “spontaneous choreography” for the everyday, the board stands as an open book, and the phrases become invitations to enact dissent against all that is customary.
Cover Image: A phrase for the billboard, formative stage
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