There have actually been three iterations of this piece of work. Each performance of the work has not only been quite different in form and intent but in each case it has held a different significance for my research and so I’m dealing with each separately in this archive. The most-recent took place at Kode II in Bergen, in February 2020; the second occurred in the UN buffer-zone in Nicosia, in October 2019. This performance, at the Cracking the Established Order conference, at De Montfort University, in the UK, in June 2019, was the work’s first performance.
The development of this work has been significant in various ways for the development of my research: first, it both broadened and in doing so, clarified my understanding of the term “site” and its significance for my work; secondly, despite having dabbled with autoethnography in the past, this marked the first time during my current research that I had deliberately and explicitly placed my own personal experience at the heart of a sustained process of creating a piece of work, in this instance, drawing on a process of auto-fictional writing, weaving an account based on my own experience with responses to other texts which also informed my work. In so doing, the process of creating this work allowed me on the one hand to better understand and articulate my own position in relation to my research and at the same time, situate my inquiry amongst a wider field of cultural production, inquiry and knowledge production in a way that was appropriate to my art practice; creatively embedding that “referencing” within my process of making; making it immanent to that process not an adjunct to it.
Where my previous activity had tended to take [encounters with] physical spaces as the starting points for my work, tying my notion of site to that of physical locale, ‘Between our words…’ focused on the idea that our personal histories also represent sites. Specifically, sites which offer their own gaps in the form of interpersonal silences, whose contours can be explored using art practice.
When I embarked on making this work, it was the texts around which my own auto-fictive narrative weaves, which I understood to be the most important sites with which I was working (text as site), it was only gradually, as I wrote, that the emphasis shifted and I came to the realisation that it was my own autobiography which constituted the work’s principal site.
Although the personal narrative at the heart of this work is an auto-fictive rather than strictly autobiographical one, the recognition that creating it prompted, of the ways in which my research’s preoccupations speak to and are grounded in attempts to come to terms with my own personal experience has been a profound one, inevitably shifting my understanding of my research and of the place of personal experience in knowledge production.