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(Chicago – Vienna – Zagreb – Vienna – London/Chicago)

465 Sentences for June, 2001
Goat Island Collaborative Journal Project

Karen Christopher
Matthew Goulish
Lin Hixson
Mark Jeffery
CJ Mitchell
Bryan Saner

With questions from
Marin Blasevic
Natasha Govedic
Veronica Kaup-Hasler
Mario Kovac
Sergei and Nikolina Pristas


In June 2001, Goat Island presented the premier of its performance It’s an Earthquake in My Heart at the Vienna Festival, with subsequent performances at the Eurokaz Festival in Zagreb, Croatia. As a way of producing written documentation of our experiences in Austria and Croatia, and to assist processing those experiences, Goat Island wrote a collaborative journal project for that month.

The system adopted for the journal was a way to control our collaboration. With six of us writing, we needed to give ourselves a structure that limited not the content but the length of our writing. Furthermore, we didn’t want to feel like we were working ourselves to the bone; our main goal was to perform the show and that had to be our main focus. If the writing project felt too much like work it would lose its sense of fun.

So the structure we used had to limit the amount we were to write each day and it had to work in such a way that we weren’t writing all the time. We agreed on a plan that corresponded to the dates in the month - it was after all a journal project. The most anyone would write on a given day would be 12 sentences. So up until day 12, each person assigned to a particular day wrote a number of sentences corresponding to the day in the month: on June 1, one sentence was written; on June 11, eleven sentences were written. On June 13, two people were assigned to write on that day: one person wrote 12 sentences and another wrote one, and this pattern continued so that it added up to the number of the day in the month until June 25, at which point a third person had to join. The order of who was to write on each day was a semi-randomized process that jumbled us up, breaking any regular pattern that might have happened and spreading the writing days fairly evenly among us.

It may help the reader to have a summary of our activities for the month:

June 1 – depart from Chicago, USA

June 2 – arrive in Vienna

June 4 to 6 – final rehearsals, lighting plan for the performance

June 7 to 10 – four performances at the Kunstlerhaus, Vienna Festival

June 11 – present “Lecture in a Stair Shape Diminishing – 366 Sentences for Vienna”

June 12 to 19 – planning Goat Island Summer School (Chicago, July 2001) and days off

June 20 – train to Zagreb

June 21/22 – teaching two day workshop

June 23 – dress rehearsal of performance

June 24/25 – two performances, Eurokaz Festival

June 26 – train to Vienna

June 27 – flight to Chicago (with the exception of Mark Jeffery, who flew to London)

The members of Goat Island are: Karen Christopher, Matthew Goulish, Lin Hixson, Mark Jeffery, CJ Mitchell, and Bryan Saner. Also travelling with us in June 2001 were: Scott Gillette (technician); Teresa Pankratz (Bryan’s wife); and Jake Pankratz Saner (Bryan and Teresa’s son). With us for a few days in Vienna were Adrian Heathfield (writer and performance artist from the UK) and Litó Walkey (performance artist based in the Netherlands, who subsequently joined Goat Island).

The journal was an experiment. What is normally written for private purposes was initially intended as a group project - and we knew that our writing would be shared between the other members of Goat Island. We started the month not otherwise knowing what the objectives of the journal were, beyond recording some of the activities of the month. We ended the month knowing that the journal would be published in Frakcija magazine. While in Zagreb, we met with members of the editorial board of Frakcija, who asked us to incorporate into the journal answers to a series of questions they generated in response to the performance. We have included these questions within the journal – to indicate when the questions arrived, and to reflect the interests and concerns of the questioners. It should also be said that while the questions were not comprehensively answered, the final journal entries certainly reflect a shift in the approach to our journal writing, and are perhaps more reflective of the performance for that reason. (If you would like to contact Frakcija, please email.)

In Vienna, the journal provided an outlet for the thoughts we had around the response to our performance. Even so, we wrote more about the city than about the act of performing in it. This may be a measure of the limited contact we had with our audience in Vienna. The only people who stayed to talk after the show were people who had little to say about it (although there were other words that filtered down to us days later). Our contact with audiences in Zagreb was distinct from this, and for the most part very positive – and this again is reflected in the journal.

As with any journal, we may not have had time to record our recollections, thoughts and feelings about a particular day on the day in question. The writing may have come later. And later again, we may have gone back to revise the writing in some way.

If any of us were asked about the month of June 2001, and how our trip to Austria and Croatia had gone, our reply might include many things not addressed in this journal. What is published here is fragmented and incomplete. But in these fragments we have an attempt to account for what happened to six people in June 2001. And perhaps the reader’s examination of these scraps of evidence gives an indication of what the whole experience might have been.

The construction of memory is a central theme of It’s an Earthquake in My Heart, and it therefore seems appropriate that a journal project, an attempt to capture memories before they dissipate, was carried out when the performance was premiered. The work of British artist Rachel Whiteread makes two appearances in the journal: on June 2, we visited her Holocaust Memorial in Vienna; and on June 27, Mark Jeffery visited her exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Whiteread’s sculptural work often involves large scale casts of interior spaces - buildings, homes, rooms - which attempt to memorialize space, and through that suggest something about the lives which have passed through those spaces. Those sculptures materialize space in a similar way to how we hope this journal materializes time. As always, we provide the project as suggestive of ways for others to creatively approach their lives. We survived the month of June 2001.

CJ Mitchell
Goat Island Company Manager


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