FIRST THOUGHT BEST THOUGHT PERFORMANCE: 'HOW DO YOU SPELL CATHARSIS'
Exhibition: The Central St. Martins Degree Show
22nd May 19 - 26th May 19
A PERFORMANCE OF THE 'FIRST THOUGHT BEST THOUGHT' WRITING PRACTICE ON AN IMMERSIVE SCALE
'First thought, best thought' is a term coined by the poet Allen Ginsberg used to describe a spontaneous and fearless writing style that arises from naked and authentic experience. The style of writing has roots in Buddhist ideas and practices. The version of this practice that Arthur Bloye has used begins with writing the phrase 'first thought', this is followed by whatever thoughts, memories, or observations come to mind. This version of the practice originates with the contemporary artist Peter Moore, who does this when creating his modern manuscripts. Moore also changes the orientation of the page after he transcribes each thought and winds his phrases around each other, resulting in a spiralling, labyrinthine composition. In his pieces, Bloye has mimicked the labyrinthine aesthetic in homage to Moore.
The writing process was performed live to the public over five days. The performance allowed viewers a voyeuristic look into Bloye's uncensored thoughts. Although he never interacts with the viewer vocally, the viewers become an active element in the performance as they enter his thoughts. In this way the piece becomes interactive as the viewer influences the writing. Bloye observed, “I intended to access something of my authentic self in the Final writing exercise. But I had not anticipated to what degree the audience would influence me. At the private view there was alcohol and there were students and the atmosphere was electric. Crowds would form around performers across the exhibition and I was no different. Sometimes as many as fifty people would crowd around my cramped space eagerly watching the words flow from my pen. I felt inclined to perform and to entertain. Occasionally, when I thought I detected someone clicking with my cynical sense of humour, I would play for laughs, as with – ‘What a place to meet privileged delinquents’”
Also installed in the space, obscured by bubble wrap, are two delicately crafted oil portraits. Bloye makes his internal monologue an open book, but the carefully crafted oil paintings are kept secret.
'How Do You Spell Catharsis' gets its name from a question that Bloye had asked himself during the performance, and a question which he proceeded to transcribe on to the wall. The artist makes correct spelling no obstacle to the transcription of his thoughts, and amidst the passion to capture his thoughts correct spelling is often sacrificed. However, within the performance Bloye would make corrections in an orange pen when the correction came to his mind.
Writing is a practice that defies the impermanence of thoughts. The transcription of an idea normally serves to preserve it, yet this piece was not intended to be preserved text. Arthur Bloye was practicing ‘first thought, best thought’ for a live audience and much of the writing was specific to that time, place and the people surrounding him. After this event the work was covered up beneath layers of white paint and the erasure the writing was executed with the same mindfulness as the writing itself.