Lena Simic

by ataylor1in6




He was ******, although he wasn’t. ****** implies he was helpless. He was not. He could have acted. Reacted But he didn’t. He just stood there like a dumb fucker when he said

come on then

By the time he reacted (legs flailed, arms on head) it was too late. He was on the floor, so he stood up and saw the shoulders walk away, and leave through the door.

He checks his face.


not panicked, or afraid.

More of a ‘why?’

As if he knew the consequences of the events.

He didn’t.

A broken nose and a fractured jaw.

Now, he smiles.

Lena Simic’s performance practice is coloured by her understanding of feminism and her situation as a foreigner which influences her assigned role as a mother, an academic and a citizen. She spoke of how autobiography plays a huge part in her work. She admits, or explained, how she often tints her experiments with different filters to make it more appealing to her. She asked if we put ourselves into our work and I was struck by how, if anything, I consciously try to resist it. My work with scores and chance was centred around removing my ‘self’, the author, from the text. The same can be said of my poetry, where the words take on a ‘self’ which is a reflection of the reader. My work with chance, score and poetry seems to be in opposition to Simic’s autobiographical practice and aligns itself more with Barthes’ death of the author concept. However, Simic incorporates questions of memory into her work, best seen in a short film collaboration with Julieann O’Malley. The film was played in public, through headphones to make it more intimate and consists of multiple re-writings of one of Simic’s memories, referred to as

‘the basics’.

The Basics

The car. Me in the car. Waiting for you. You approaching the car. Me looking at you. You see me looking at you. You notice me and you. Together.

The film was very beautiful, some re-writings causing me to emote, but it called into the centre the ultimate construction of memory and how our past is continually constructed by the present. Simic’s work also seems to discuss the erosion and un-obtainable nature of memory. I was reminded of Gertrude Stein’s “we cannot retrace our steps” and it is these elements of multiple narratives and ‘present-ness’ that I can take and apply to my practice.

If I can capture, or at least appear to capture, the feeling of an audience creatively branching narratives as Simic’s work reveals memory does then I can imitate the narratives of videogames.

Simic’s other work centre, again, around autobiography. She says she prefers to ‘root’ her autobiography to something bigger than herself as in her upcoming ‘1994’ where she plants herself to Nirvana, Kurt Cobain and the Balkans war. I’, sure this piece will (omitted)…She justifies the autobiographical elements of her work using the feminist mantra of ‘the personal is political’.

This is best illustrated in her work for her research PhD., ‘Medea/Mothers Clothes’, the score for which, among other things, can be found on her website.

The score, of course, instantly engages me, as Simic showed us a section of the performance. This allows me to study the gaps between the text and Simic’s original performance. As with all scores, the beauty lies in the interpretation, they ask questions of us, they ask us ‘how do you define me?’

How do you define banal?

How do you hang the clothes?

The way you perform the gaps in definition casts you as the author.

This relates to game logic, the game, as score. The game provides you with lines, with limits, with rules that your react to. Anything within those lines is up to you. You define the gaps in the score.

How do you define win?

How do you define fun?

What will you do from the fourth wall perspective of player?

Will you play the game as intended?

or apply your own rules of success and fun?

Is pac-mans death a tragedy? or comedy?

In the cracks, the gamer is reflected and refracted.

Interestingly ‘Medea/Mothers clothes’ includes a recording of Simic reading/recounting texts but she is repeatedly cut off, her englich corrected by the thick, deep, scouse accent of her husband. This reminded me of ‘Krapps Last Tape’. The presence of recorded sound and video could be viewed as uncharacteristic permanence for Simic. However, the ‘sound’ of the recording is, of course, subject to the venue which is, in turn, subject to the contents of the room which will be slightly different each time. The sound will also be different every time it is played through the speaker, as they age into eventual distortion.

The film and slide slow were subjected to the whims of the sheets they were projected on to. As the definite and fixed roles of women are projected onto their forever-in-flux personalities.

I must make my new media inspired practice one of score in order to retain the cooperative authorship of player and writer and, as Semic has shown, this does not rule out the possibility of recordings…