Safe Word (Klaxon): but I never felt safe enough to use it


Safe Word (Klaxon) | CSM, London

This durational performance situated my body in the position of kneeling on the floor and wearing a pair of headphones connected to a freestanding microphone which audience members could approach and speak into. The only other component was a Klaxon in front of me, which I was intending to squeeze in the manner of a ‘safe-word’, the following text is a retrospective accompaniment to the piece:

Lying, much like prayer, is an automatism which refers to the creation of poetic verse without resorting to conscious thought; accessing material from the live-archive and beyond , as part of the creative production of truth. Love is another feeling like this, but I cannot provide any explanation for its existence, so I will choose to ignore it for the purposes of this dwelling into thought – all I know is that it is a futile endeavour. Another futile endeavour in today’s society is Art – with a big A – yet when it comes to art, this can still lubricate the functioning of comfort, worship, information and archival processes.

Language on the other hand is alive and brimming with potential and possibility, it is the renewable technology of the self, hence why the lie is so alluring whether it forms the basis of prayer or poetry. It is for such reasons that I believe art now takes the position of a linguistic enterprise of the techno-reality. This is the inescapable outcome of sustained circular dialogue, which combines communicative gestures with the madness of compulsive reiteration, along with the playfulness of a merry-go-round or masochistic bondage. For example, in this work I was able to (re)create a circular dialogue between audience members and myself to the potential effect of squeezing of a klaxon, a device which was intended to function as my safe word; however, I never felt safe enough to use it.

I just heard whatever the audience said, I had to hear it all in the headphones on my head.