Faye Driscoll’s Artist Diary: Thank You For Coming
Faye Driscoll, described by the The New York Times as a “startlingly original talent,” frames her dance performances as a shared rite of passage with her audience. Since receiving the Creative Capital Grant for her Thank You For Coming trilogy in 2013, Driscoll has embarked on a long-term creative endeavor exploring issues of perception and connectivity. As the Los Angeles premiere of the final installment of the trilogy nears at REDCAT, Driscoll shares about her practice, what she hopes to achieve, and finding joy in art.
This is an image of me performing Thank You For Coming: Space in Berlin this past August. I am holding an imagined “lung” in my hand as I guide the audience through meditation on death.
My choreographic practice has evolved to bridge the spaces between gallery, stage, and social sphere, between viewer and viewed. For me, the body is at once a site, a process, and a continually emerging state. My works employ heightened modes of performativity, reformulations of proximity, and at times direct physical connection to reveal the palindromic loop between self and other.
Each installment of Thank You for Coming explores performance as one of the last secular social spaces where the vulnerability, necessity, and complexity of our interconnection can be made palpable. Each piece involves the audience, making them culpable and getting them to move their bodies—in some ways, the works train them to get involved.
The first part of the trilogy, Thank You for Coming: Attendance (2014), softened the lines between spectator and participant by deftly morphing audiences and performers into an impromptu 75-minute community. This is an image from the end of Attendance where the whole audience is skipping in a circle with the performers. I remember thinking “Is it still high art if it is also this joyous?”
The second work in the trilogy, Thank You for Coming: Play (2016), focused on the consumption and fabrication of narrative as a way to make our lives cohere, examining the lingering gaps and glitches (both physically and vocally) between what we say and what we do.This image is from the “wedding scene” at the premiere of Play at BAM. The story keeps sliding, the costumes keep changing.
Receiving the Creative Capital Grant for Thank You For Coming opened up new relationships with curators and led to a lot more commissions and touring.
The final work in the trilogy Thank You For Coming: Space is a shared rite of passage—a conjuring of the transformative powers of presence, and of absence. Space unfolds within an intimate installation, wired for sound and upheld by pulleys, ropes and the weight of others, where I appear alone with the audience.
Performance stills of Thank You For Coming: Space in Berlin. Left: Dragging cinder blocks. Right: Standing in shoes with mics on them. Trying to hear the footsteps of one who is gone. Photos by Jens Wazel
Through a series of actions and invocations, I build a requiem for the human body, one that tethers us to each other and to the manifold possibilities we each contain.
Space becomes a place to collectively confront the constancy of change, and offers an enlivened contemplation of our final flourishing. The work is in part a shrine to a dead parent, holding up a hairbrush, a medicine bottle, memorializing the smallest and most personal detritus of a life.
Performance still from Thank You For Coming: Space. Left: “Will you hold my hand?” Driscoll with the audience. Right: Getting sprayed by the audience. Laughing in the heaviness. Photos by Maria Baranova
I am taking the opportunity to premiere my work to the Creative Capital community with the final piece of the trilogy, Thank You For Coming: Space, coming to Los Angeles, my hometown. This homecoming has significance as it is connecting the work to the material space from which it was born.
See Thank You For Coming: Space at REDCAT in Los Angeles, CA, September 15–17, 2022.