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These Events, Events Make, Ruptures: Nathan Walker, poet & artist

close up of bearded man's lower face with fingers in his slightly open mouth

These Events, Events Make, Ruptures:

A Performative Lecture and Q&A with Nathan Walker

The purpose of this online event was for members of CePRA and other interested parties to gain insight into Nathan Walker’s practice-as-research methodologies, and use this knowledge to enhance our own research. Walker’s practice encompasses poetry, sound and performance art, and often takes the form of physically challenging tasks that are enacted over an extended duration. My PhD research on the practice of failure in experimental poetry performance considers duration as a space in which failure can be played out and its qualities established. I was therefore interested to hear Walker’s account of moving towards ‘a different kind of attention’, during their durational performances, and how this enables the development of their vocalisations. Walker’s practice is also connected to my co-organiser Jon Gilbert’s research on the interpretation of graphic scores, in particular their resistance to being read. The event gave Gilbert the opportunity to ask Walker about the decisions they make as they are vocalising scores.

nathan walker, bald moustachioed man sitting in dark t-shirt in dark stage, holding hand and fingers in front of face

Walker’s forty-minute presentation shifted between poetry, accounts of previous performances, and analysis of the performers who have influenced their practice. They described the spaces in which they had performed, and how tasks that they had set themselves unfolded in those specific environments. Their mouth has taken on particular importance as a space where language is held before being heard. Performances such as Faults (2019) have explored the qualities and implications of that holding, and the potential for the released language to cause ruptures (hence the title of their lecture). More recently, Walker has explored the possibilities of performing to the camera to document shorter actions in an intimate manner.

The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session. Discussions covered the role of duration, the possibility for others to interpret Walker’s performance scores, and the value of audio performance documentation, amongst other subjects.

Students and staff at the University of Leeds can watch a video of the event on MS Stream.