Derby News Community Grant

An enduring performance ; the Art of being Here.. and Hear.

Pierce Starre’s daily 7 hour silent, static performance at the Divine Locale Art festival, might seem like a side-show curiousity, but the underlying ideas are thoughtful and profound.

Pierce was born into a world of deafness. Both of his parents couldn’t hear. He barely spoke in his early years – his only form of communication, with his Mother ( his parents separated when he was very young) was through sign language, facial expressions, seeing and pointing. At 4 years old he became the ears of his Mother, and was her interpreter with the “outside world”.

For most of us we take hearing for granted; to the extent that we are losing the Art of listening.

There is an increasing prevalence of the sad sight of people sitting, silently, in the same space; friends, no doubt, tapping away on their smart phone, “deaf” to their immediate environment, engrossed in another world, a virtual vacuum that has sucked them out of the ‘here and now’.

Pierce’s performance is a way of emphasising the HERE and the HEAR – two words that share a common sound. That life should be about engaging in your current environment – being HERE, and to be listening, and to be truly listening, for every nuance, and aspect of the world that is there, and to HEAR.

To his parents, being able to hear would have been a profound gift.

In the performance, Pierce disengages  – he is blindfolded, he is totally still, no hand gestures, no body language, no visual cues, no lip movements – he just focuses on listening. The complete antithesis of communicating with a deaf person….and what he needed to become his Mother’s conduit.

This form of performance art, or more appropriately, endurance art, is as much about exploring the pain, exhaustion, isolation, and the feeling of the experience, than just the core messages. Time becomes very fluid with only limited auditory cues and it also challenges one’s views on how we sense time, and how we use it….and what it means to be present, in a space.

I met Pierce for the first time, last Thursday, and we were chatting in the seated area outside Café Nero. I was explaining something; he sat, concentrating, static, listening. A deaf friend of his passed by, caught his attention. He jumped up, arms waving, fingers gesticulating, eyes wide, and lots of expression, using many facets to communicate. They finished their conversation, he sat down, and listened, again.

Some people may view this form of art as, not being art – it’s not a painting, a photograph or a sculpture; you can’t buy it and take it home. But as Tolstoy said:

 “Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them.”

Pierce is passionate about communicating his ideas, and is keen, through this, to make people think  more about listening, the issues of hearing loss and  the Art of being engaged in the moment.

Derby has a sizeable Deaf community, and is home to the Royal School for the Deaf educating 120 children and young people ( ages 3-19) from across the country. There are many organisations across the city supporting people with all levels of hearing loss, and substantial provisions and adjustments are in place, to ensure that they can also enjoy the world we all live in….here, and now!

The Divine Locale Arts festival was funded by a Derby News Community Grant

The festival is located at 2 venues. No. 2 , The Spot (opposite Poundland, DE1 2NZ), and St Werburgh’s Church on Friar Gate ( adjacent to junction with Curzon Street). The Church location is for special screening events, The Spot will be open from 11am – 6pm until 1 September 2017

Categories: Derby News Community Grant

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