Sweet Disarray

by | Sep 26, 2017 | Artwork #1: Score, Uncategorized

Carter Cockrell 2

Artwork #1: Score


Offer each individual in the room a piece of chocolate,
Ask each individual that takes a piece not to eat it.

Artist’s Statement:

Inspired by the concept of an Alan Kaprow ‘Happening,’ specifically manipulating the mundane, everyday aspects of life, I wanted to emulate my experience on the first day of class. Having missed the first week of school, my first day began in the foyer of Ryder Hall; the only instructions were “– to bring an umbrella.” After a few minutes of standing around playing with pink yarn, I watched an upside-down umbrella drop from the sky, bounce a few times, and, finally caught, settle into a rhythmic sway.

This score focuses on what I found to be the most compelling aspect of the class Happenings, a shared experience. Not until I found myself suddenly entwined in yarn, the class woven into a single unit, did I realize even the person that dropped the umbrella was as confused as I. I wanted this score to realize a simple, everyday interaction in a manner that both surprises its audience and conjures images of question mark emojis.

I chose to share a bar of chocolate for this score because this interaction represents the concept of community. It triggers memories of splitting chocolate bars between classes, passing candy around during class, and arriving at the dorm to extra pizza. Especially in schools, food sharing has always helped establish some kind of bond. In terms of practice, this score’s preferred audience is a familiar community, like a college campus or neighborhood. This helps the score start more naturally, but also functions to lure the audience into the experience.

Beyond a sense of community, I wanted to create an artistic confusion that blurs the lines between score and life. As Kaprow said, “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps as indistinct as possible” (Performance Art 101). Who would expect, after being offered a piece of chocolate, to be told not to eat the piece of chocolate? If they listen, what would they do with it? If I’m not paying attention anymore, why would they care? These questions are the only indication that participants are, in fact, an audience. Suddenly, the chocolate becomes more than momentary relief, and the moment seems to last just a little bit longer.

Process Notes:

This score has little room for interpretation. One iteration of the score added the instructions one at a time to indicate how to offer a piece of chocolate to the audience, but decided to omit because I think the score would achieve the desired effect even if everyone were offered a piece at the same time; the performer still needs to tell them not to eat it afterwards. This Yoko Ono-esque sensation is the end goal. Grapefruit offers a lot of meditative relief, followed by puzzling, awkward instruction. This score follows the same schematic: relief, then wonder.

I chose this particular chocolate bar because it enhances the idea of a shared experience. As opposed to a bag of M&Ms or Hershey’s Kisses, breaking a part a bigger piece emphasizes the concept of community. I also wanted something big enough to be alluring, but not too big as to take away from the idea of sharing – I once split a gummie bear bigger than my desktop computer with 24 students. I also wanted the size of the piece to act as a lure – I wanted the audience to want the chocolate. The second line of the score was inspired by Cage’s 4’33”, specifically the idea of framing a predictable, ordinary experience and leading it somewhere unexpected.