Performance Art vs Garret Art

I had the opportunity last month to head up to the Edinburgh Fringe and see a friend of mine act and dance in a show (that she had also choreographed). Fringe is something I’ve been meaning to do for years and this extra incentive finally got me there – that and an 8 hour train journey broken in Leeds. After I got over my mind being blown by this awesome show and my friend’s incandescent talent, I started thinking about the difference between introverted creativity and extroverted creativity.

What do I mean by those terms?

I think of introverted creativity as what I do. I sit, generally alone, in my own space and write, draw or sew. When I have something ‘finished’ – by which I mean, something that can survive being abandoned – I push it out into the world as a thing that is almost separate from me. Then I step back into the shadows. If an audience comes to interact with my creation, it is asynchronous. If they choose to feedback to me, that feedback is often filtered through the process required to commit thoughts to keyboard.

Extroverted creativity, then, is performance. The creator and the creation entwined. The creative is out there creating in front of the audience’s eyes. Even under the weight of all the prior preparation and planning and practice, each performance creates anew. There’s always the potential for new discoveries and new interpretations. No performance is ever the definitive performance. The piece does not have to be abandoned. There are no shadows for the performer. The spotlight of the audience’s attention shines on them. The feedback is immediate. It flows across the faces of the audience. It thrums in the energy that is shared between performer and audience. The connection is human, not textual.

This is what I envy the performance artist: that connection. I create, but I can’t stand close to the reader, peering over the top of their screen, and watch fear, sadness, surprise and joy move their face. I stay in my garret.

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