shared action @ chisenhale dance space

joseph morgan schofield + selina bonelli

london 21.06.19

images by Antonia Eugenie

An encounter between two artists, sharing space, action, material and time, responding to, and exploding, the limits of language and desire.


Participating artists: Joseph Morgan Schofield, selina bonelli


The solo practices of performance artists, joseph morgan schofield and selina bonelli are individually mesmerising and unnerving. They share a keen sense of materiality and are marked by a wilful urge to act. In this encounter, they presented their moving, poetic works in dialogue with each other, pushing at the limits of language and desire.

Supported using public funds by Arts Council England.

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Response by Antonia Eugenie

Chair, burlap sack, 3 bottles of rosewater and, if you look closely, a line of fish wire draped over an exposed ceiling fixture diagonally lineup on Chisenhale Dance Spaces polished parquet floor amid other seemingly unconnected artifacts. As the audience enter and take their seats, some on chairs, others on the ground around the collection, there is an atmosphere of stillness and calm as low summer light fills the room through one open window.

The pair enter the room in tandem serenity. Schofield wears a black body stocking, the remnants of past performances scar their arms. Bonelli is dressed in simple black trousers with a white shirt, her head is low and focussed. There is a stillness after the partners find their centers at opposing ends of the room, then, seamlessly and without hesitation, each performer begins. What ensues is a physical poem; the passages made of performative utterances between body and space, object and artist, chance and coincidence.

Bonelli begins her ritual, entangling fish wire around her teeth, then affixing it to the wooden chair, raising it up off the floor. Schofield places a stone in their mouth and raises a large, heavy block before it comes crashing to the floor. The 'second phrase'; Schofield pierces their skin with needles, lighting a candle to drip wax over their skin. Bonelli lies on the floor, filing charcoal with her mouth into dust. Phrases ellipse; stones are poured into tights now worn by Bonelli, Schofield attaches themselves to fish wire, now tracing other intervals of the architecture. These actions are capricious; they are created in moments of intrigue and whimsy between the artist and their impulse and are not rehearsed but manifested through connections and energy present within the given moment and space, encouraging the audience to open up and enjoy the risk and chance of what we are witnessing. They are fleeting.

Despite this, there is a palpable synergy within the waltz. As each artist translates the probabilities between themselves and the catalog of items, each item is translated in ways which seeks to utilise the mundane object into that of a cherished, ritualistic artifact. Rosewater is partially consumed by Bonelli, who lets it gradually trickle down out of her mouth and spill down over leftover wire enmeshed within her incisors, down onto a thin layer of charcoal black dust as the wax solidifies and coalesces with fresh red blood which licks Schofield's skin.

Each artist becomes a Mesmer of the space, lulling the audience into a transitive state of being. The occurrences reminisce of spiritualist inclinations one might find present in a solemn rite. The world outside seems on pause as the audience are lullabied into mindfulness, and simply ‘being’. We feel calm and present, in safe hands as we are guided into a melding of spirits lead by each artist. Each guide provides the other with a courteousness which seeks to unify not only each other but the audience as we are drawn further into the present; eloquently defining the transitive nature of performative happenings.

© 2019 By Joseph Morgan Schofield.