Forsyth & Pollard’s film of Performer. Audience. Fuck Off. documents a live performance work they presented at Site Gallery, Sheffield. The performance was commissioned by Rules & Regs and curated by Carol Maund. The artists elected to reinterpret a performance originally presented in 1975 by American artist Dan Graham called Performer/Audience/Mirror.
In the original, Graham faces a seated audience, with a mirror covering the wall behind him, reflecting the audience back at themselves. The performance moves through four stages. In the first, the performer look at the audience and describes himself, what he’s doing and how he’s feeling. In stage 2 he describes the audience. In stage 3 he faces the mirror and describes himself and his movements, but based only on what he sees in the mirror. In the fourth and final stage, still facing the mirror, he again describes the behaviour of the audience.
Forsyth & Pollard’s performance took on the basic structure of Graham’s, but reworked through the trappings of stand-up comedy. The resulting film captures the highly charged tension in the room and the often hilarious but occasionally uncomfortable impact the comedian has on the audience.
The performer, Iain Lee, is a comedian and broadcaster who rose to fame on The 11 O’clock Show on Channel 4 alongside Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G character. He now presents a regular show for Talk Radio in the UK. Lee also appears as a martian in Forsyth & Pollard’s Radio Mania: An Abandoned Work (2009).