Shona Macnaughton

shonalesley (at) gmail (dot) com

Bum Host (2014)

Performed at The Tetley, Leeds 7th June 2014 as part of ‘How to live in a flat’ by Rachel Adams 

Taking Adam’s work, which referenced a guide book for living with modernist design from the 1930s as a starting point,I chose another reference from that time ‘A room of One’s own’ by Virginia Woolf, and devised a script which reframed the world Woolf had expressed as my previous working conditions. Taking the character of a hospitality employee in the grips of an anxiety attack, I  performed this text live in front of an audience invited to a ‘soiree’. On various devices, which were placed temporarily in the installation, were digital images of canapés.

Script excerpt:

“My previous job was so much easier.

Her room was so graceful. What was it that simple equation?, equity equals equality, that’s it, a simple classic tag line.
Timeless design, a quiet sound proof room, modest, little bit smokey for my liking, I didn’t enjoy clearing those gin soaked ash trays, but it was properly dignified, stable, secure, people ate all their food up, had long important conversations where they described lawns….
The walls had this untapped creative force, which was probably still lingering after all that sitting indoors the women had done. It seemed like they were charged with potential female words. Only The best in ambient décor.
Yet she thought even then there wasn’t enough poets coming along. We needed to do more to attract them. Emphasise the luxurious, private, spacious. “A lock on the door means the power to think for oneself” she said.
You wouldn’t see a lock on these doors, its one of those public places. I think she would have said “a common sitting room”, so this would be where she would have to hide from me then?
Mmm No doubt, maybe she is here…but wait no it wasn’t a meant to be a physical disappearance, it was merely occupational.
After all “Genius is not born among labouring, uneducated, servile people.”

I was insulted the first time I heard that, funny how thick my skin got in the end.

Anyway that was then this is now and thats not really the issue right now. I mean, look at me.
best I can do for myself is to preserve some kind of pity in the people here.
Now so if I’ve been summoned by a gatecrasher, who is not even here, then this is a make believe occupation of imagined property?!
I’m the victim.
This is one of those double negative equity situations you hear about isn’t it, upsidedown, the value of my asset is less than the outstanding balance on the loan which itself has no authority,
Even if I sell myself my worth will still not be enough, would never be enough, in this powdery value system Another eviction then for cohabiting, the first one wasn’t my fault though, I couldn’t have stayed there you know it just didn’t fit with the cultural things I’d learnt, sooner or later I would have choked on that stupid, basic rhyming dick.
I’ve not been thinking straight. What did I think would happen?
Well it was envy rather than reason that got me here, it was a jealous dive, headfirst into the bed again, if this is a bed….”DON’T be the type of host who has to be put to bed by the guests”
Well actually I’m not the host and this was my decision.

I mean if she has that then why can’t I? since she’s not here, fight the power you can’t see and all that. Glad I learnt those contortions, been practising fixing my pose towards a sense of my own self-importance, finessing my sense of entitlement.

“You too could have a room of your own!” I can make it just like she had. Or as good as. Better than that anyway.

In here I can at least I can be an individual, in the space between my head and thighs I can create!”

 

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