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Looking for the Exit 

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In the performance work Looking for the Exit, Collard passes and reflects on the threshold between the two spaces in which she is working. Once more we meet her searching for and researching to understand her place in the world and in art making. Two identical environments, and the space between them, make for an uncomfortable, destabilising reality and context for speculation. In the most active element of the work: writing, Collard will be taking notes, noticing, registering, keeping, and capturing in a bid to avoid forgetting. Marking her own internal thresholds as well as physical habits and patterns determine her inhabitation of the space and form the premise of the piece. ​ With an ongoing intention to explore the human condition and an assuredness in her inclusion of what stays and lives in the work, Collard deliberately exposes her research and explores it in a public setting. This underscores her belief in the relational nature of not only performance but also art making itself.  As a performer, she needs to be witnessed in the process and create work in which each element present has equal status; she deliberately democratises all ideas and themes. To achieve this she proposes removing self as ego, thus decentralising her presence.  ​ Like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill, Collard is cognisant of the cyclic nature of artistic practice and knowingly faces being “in different, but the same, shit”. Meeting herself and her enquiries time and again fuels her commitment to pushing forward and trying to resolve problems encountered many times, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that she just might not do so. Tensions, metaphors, contradictions, paradoxes, futility, and failure occur in all the various media within which she works.   ​ Aligning herself, in part, with a post-modernist approach, Collard’s values concern the non-hierarchical, the interrogative and the universal human experience. The pedestrian and the ordinary are potently revealed to express the extraordinary. With intentional use of understatement, she undermines possible pretentiousness and superficial grandstanding. All this proposes her work demand different kinds of considerations, which maybe emphasize certain inequalities and call into frame an engagement with countercultural ideologies.  ​ Despite the usual thinking of ‘show’ around performance, spectacle is of no interest to Collard. She’s insistent instead on presenting herself in performance as just another facet of the piece with which the audience can engage. In any aspect of her performative work, and with a nerd-like obsession, she accepts and explores whatever arises no matter how mundane. The minutiae, the grand overarching aspect, the potential weirdness, the embarrassing and risible, but maybe especially the boring and disappointing, are all as grist to the mill and of equal value.  ​ Collard’s practice is fundamentally one of thinking through the body, with each set-up providing a context for the body to be a site for enquiry. As an innately embodied practitioner, further developed through her career as a dance artist, Collard’s physical and somatic connections to and in her work are central to everything she does. This refined knowledge, sense and awareness precipitate an exceedingly idiosyncratic and deeply personal engagement with her creative output. The purposeful and deliberate consideration of composition, time, movement, rhythm, emotion, feeling and thinking all coalesce in her pieces to produce and effect multidisciplinary work reflecting the everyday, the abstract and everything in between.  ​ With rigor, wit and infinite curiosity, the material, the palpable, the associations, and the imagination are Collard’s core concerns as an artist. ​ Written by Dave Waring, an artist and friend whose career as a performer, maker, artistic director and lecturer spans across 35 years. Extending his research into writing, Waring has kindly agreed to write this text and share his insight and reflections.  ​ ​

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