Globe Head


Performance: La Bisbal, Spain, September 2005.

‘The Wolf in the Winter’.

The ‘Wolves’ assembled in rural Spain, incongruously camped out on loungers beside the pool at a hacienda, wrapped around in sunshades, sipping sangria, braving the heat and occasionally testing the water. We were there to present work for a performance festival in the medieval market town of La Bisbal.


‘Globe Head’ was inspired by two factors. Firstly, I discovered a reproduction of the anonymous 16th century ‘Fool’s Cap World Map’ that still baffles contemporary historians as to its meaning. My own interpretation of the Map was instinctual: whilst prudently measuring the world’s territories against each other, it seems to assert that such boundaries will always themselves be enclosed or ‘capped’ by the anarchy of folly.


The second factor was that, in performances immediately prior to this one, I’d found myself, midway through conducting anti-social actions on the streets and squares of foreign towns and cities, becoming doubtful as to the value and purpose of such endeavour. Wasn’t I in fact simply an alien interloper colonising a foreign ‘everyday life’ in order to promote and elevate pathological folly into art? On these occasions, perhaps one is inadvertently creating a ‘World Map’ by - figuratively speaking - pissing on the streets all around the globe to bestially mark out one’s territory. Performance art is a complicated and contested tradition to respond to, and so such reflection on the merit of one’s efforts becomes inevitable. I wanted to portray then, this confusion that I felt between the supposedly conflicting urges of carnal fooling and territorial colonising.


Encasing my head in a cardboard globe, the spare space inside it was enough to hold a silver-foil wine pouch containing three litres of water. By sucking water from the bag via one tube into my mouth, I could then spit it through a second tube down to a faucet tap emerging from the fly-hole of my trousers. This clumsy apparatus served the function of allowing me to fake the act of urinating at will. Thus apparelled, I headed out to explore the town and central market place, pausing at corners and walls to ‘piss’ with exaggerated relish, thereby demarcating my imagined territory around the town.


Through previous doubts as to the purpose of my artistic endeavours, then, I derived the central image of this performance: a man with his head encased in a globe, staggering half-sighted around the streets of a medieval town suggesting to piss on the pavements in front of the local townfolks, and doing so with ribald, scrofulous gusto.


Duration: 1 hour


Aaron Williamson



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