by studying immobility. We pretended our bodies were cars,
and imitated the patterns of a chase and an accident. We
pretended we were dancers, and imitated the patterns of
a dance. We pretended we were machines, and people learning
how to behave like people. We collected words about phantom
childhoods. We fashioned a narrow performance space, angled
askew, with no parallel in the world: part Chevrolet insignia,
part Libeskind passageway. We have discovered a performance
by making it, with the following ideas at its heart: the
construction of memory, the aftermath of historical destruction,
the place of nature, the way one might learn to love the
world, the way one might say to oneself, "I am not
Goat Island – It’s
an Earthquake in My Heart
Goat Island’s “Lecture in a Stair Shape Diminishing”
was written in response to an invitation from the Vienna
Festival to present a lecture alongside the premier of It’s
an Earthquake in My Heart in June 2001. It was written
by the six members of the group, partly to contextualize
the performance, and partly as an artwork in its own right.
It was intended that the talk would also reflect the theme
of the Vienna Festival into which we had been programmed,
which included: “…a story made up of many stories,
of voices, sounds, and images… [dealing] with places,
biographies, and identities that change, with power and
helplessness, zones of transition from biography to politics,
from story to history.”
As the design of Goat Island’s performance spaces
presents us with a vessel to fill with our performances,
we also found it useful to have a structure which we would
fill with words for our lecture. Matthew constructed this
design, reproduced below. Structure might be said, in instances
such as these, to provide clarity and focus to the creative
process. Six alternating voices (A to F) each speak four
times in sequence for a duration of diminishing length,
determined by numbered sentences, starting at 35 and reducing
to 0, at which point the lecture concludes. Each person
delivers 61 sentences in total. To ensure that the lecture
diminished in length with each section, we decided that
the average sentence length would be approximately 17.5
words in each of the 24 sections.
In addition to the sentence structure, each member of Goat
Island supplied a directive to be followed by us all:
(1) Write one to three lines about not being able to move
(2) Compulsion. To complete the experience of looking, create
a climate of things - Mark.
(3) At some point in your piece, stop and observe a moment
of silence, directly after which you complete the sentence,
“I hear…” - Karen.
(4) Find a safe part and use it as an anchor - CJ (appropriated
from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies).
(5) Write three sentences in a row, each sentence beginning
with the same word - Bryan.
(6) Share a word at the transitional sentence, and add a
change of season - Matthew.
The outcome of this process is multivocal, and perhaps
internally contradictory, reflecting the manner of its conception.
The structure and directives, outlined above, are secondary
to your response to the lecture, and indeed may not be apparent
without reading this introduction – however, we hope
this information will add to your appreciation of the lecture.
Goat Island Company Manager
Chicago, March 2001
in a Stair Shape Diminishing