Echoes of a past self: art, memory and transformation

Concept of new idea and creative thinking as a symbol of innovation and inspiration metaphor as a group of crumpled papers with one different paper transforming into an origami bird in flight.

As part of International Women’s Day 2024, Lior Locher’s first performance art video explores the profound impact of unplanned artistry on identity and existence

In an unexpected twist, an Lior Locher finds themselves at the centre of a performance art piece, not as an observer but as the unwitting subject. This becomes a powerful metaphor for professional growth and adaptability and this video narrative showcases how unplanned experiences can dramatically shape our understanding of creativity, collaboration, and personal development.

Transcript auto-generated by YouTube and formatted by ChatGPT:

I lied. I have actually done a performance art thingy before, but I didn’t know it at the time. I would not have known what performance art was then. I was just curious and hungry for deep experiences. The first time we met, those pieces by Marina Abramović and me, was 15 years ago in a small, windowless room at the Centre Pompidou. I was visiting Paris for a week, my first time in Paris as an adult. I was overly excited, a bit hungover, and in desperate need of a nap. That slab of what looked like malachite, with its rose quartz headrest, looked so tempting. The sign on the wall said you could, and there was no security guard, so I lay down on that green slab in that quiet, empty room and crashed out for about 20 minutes.

I woke up to the sound of camera shutters clicking—those pre-smartphones. A teenage school group thought I was part of the installation, which was, of course, the point. We were all part of that installation. When I rose, they shrieked and stepped back. I was fit then, having completed an intensive yoga teacher training in India less than a year ago, and practiced for several hours a day. I loved my body and being in it, and I was in one of the best shapes of my life, radiant in ways we only realise later when it’s gone.

Now rested, the second piece was an invitation to play: yogic backbends, standing splits, and impossible stretches; upside-down poses and balances; a living sculpture. A guy had come in, carrying a stack of paper and a black pen, and he started to make quick sketches of my poses, letting each sketch slide onto the floor, where the school kids picked them up and scuttled off with them. “Beauty I cannot capture,” he scribbled on one of them in French. I felt so radically seen, standing on that pedestal, back arched, arms raised, halfway between St. Sebastian and a pole dancer. It could have gone either way.

He was on the run from the security guards all around the museum. Apparently, you’re not allowed to sketch at the Centre Pompidou, which he found deeply offensive. “I am a citizen and a taxpayer. I pay for this building. I should be able to sketch as much as I want, where I want,” was his take, which I loved. I never knew his name. With the security guard approaching, we all dispersed. The performance was over. Or was it?

The second time I caught up with the pieces was in Autumn 2023, in the Royal Academy in London, at the tail end of the big Marina Abramović exhibition. No intimate room this time; they were in one of the huge galleries, with lots of other things and lots of people, who could still interact. The green slab wasn’t malachite, like I thought in Paris; it was corrugated copper. The green, rubbed by countless bodies and hands, was starting to come off in places. Things have started to come off here too: the body, uncooperative, painful, disabling, often on crutches. Laying down still worked, but I would not have dared to try and sleep then and there, in their own bubbles, queuing for their photo, no offerings of co-creation like with the guy at the Centre Pompidou.

There were plenty of pictures taken, posted, tagged—selfies and in groups. This time there will be pictures online, all over the gram, unlike in 2009, which I tried to Google. Didn’t find much. 15 years ago, I had the experience in the moment. What I don’t have is pictures. Performance art is in the moment, with whom and with what is there. That’s the whole point. We put a pin in the universe, like cosmic acupuncture. It changes something, and it changes you and everyone else, whether Instagram is watching or not.

I have no record of that moment 15 years ago. It no longer exists, except in my mind, and on some school trip photographs. That body and that shape don’t exist anymore either. In that way, I live in a different gender and have a different name. I’m also 25% heavier and 15 years older. That day was a bad knee day, with lots of pain. The Royal Academy has a walking frame you can sit on, which I often borrow, so I can focus on the art rather than mobility issues and pain management. I managed to climb up to the pedestal. It was painful and difficult, with my knees. My body had turned from a boundless source of play and wonder to a medical issue that needs managing. The stares I got were of a rather different quality this time around. That hurt more than my knees did.

Art can tell us something about who we are and what is going on with us and in the world, if we let it. That invitation is always open, and that invitation is one of the few aspects of our lives that aren’t reined by time and space. “The spirit, in any condition, does not burn,” is the quote from Marina Abramović. And somewhere out there, someone in their late 20s will finally clear out their old bedroom in their parents’ house, flicking through paper photographs of a school trip to Paris from 2009. They might keep the selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower for laughs, and my perfectly playful yoga body, and the nameless artist drawing it, will go in the bin. And life will keep on moving.

Lior Locher

Lior Locher has a portfolio career. In L&D for over 17 years now, currently as Senior Learning Consultant with NIIT where they serve global clients on learning transformation projects.

As one of the other “portfolio elements”, Lior is an artist working in mixed media, collage and printmaking. Their work is often in group shows across the UK or in American literary magazines.

Lior will have their first solo show in London later this year at Elms Window Gallery. In February, their first film “A beauty I cannot capture” launched at The House of Smalls gallery.

Lior’s art website:  

Lior Locher

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