Does it Matter?

3 November 2017, 6.20pm – 9.00pm, Live Art Development Agency
Durational performance by Noel Ed de Leon

Following my previous performances using collected historical objects (Tracing the Traces, Philippines Embassy of London, 2014; Kilapsaw: Everything Must Go, London Biennale, 2016), this live performance explores the intertwined relationship between destruction and construction as historical and social processes.

This performance takes its queue from the saw as a practical instrument and metaphor for construction and destruction. On the one hand, the saw is used worldwide as a tool for deforestation and destruction, thus embodying deep connotations of social and environmental destruction and even obliteration. On the other hand, the saw is a strong symbol of rebuilding and restoration – a theme which I dealt with in my performance Kilapsaw: Everything Must Go 2015 when tracing the key sites of bomb detonations from the Second World War in central London.

Using 100 vintage saws from my personal collection, I plan to stage an event in which members of the audience are invited to hand me saws and watch as I construct a house-like structure using nothing but the saws themselves, a military canvas tent and binding materials (wire, string etc.).

Having previously worked as an architect, I will employ my knowledge of construction in order to develop a setting which invites members of the public (many of whom are likely to be urban-based professionals with little prior contact to historical industrial materials) to handle old-fashioned saws (secured or sealed to prevent any physical harm), in order to reflect the gravity of these instruments on the environment and social structures. The audience will then be invited to hand the saws to me one by one and to watch me assemble them into a self-supported house-like structure.

By using the saws themselves as the building blocks for the structure, I wish call to mind the ease of destruction and the difficulty of creation and restoration, particularly as they relate economic exploitations of Southeast Asian natural resources and the waging of military conflicts.

The performance can be executed in an open public space over 30-60mins and will take place to the background music of an original old gramophone from my personal collection.