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Someone else’s presence is only part of what presence is about. I often think that to some extent presence is necessarily communicative - which is why I say it is contingent on attention. Not just communicative in the sense that it communicates, but communicative like a communicative disease in that it can’t help but communicate. This is not to say that it could be undiscovered or ignored, but that is its nature. (Fiona Templeton, Presence Project interview)

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Courtesy of Fiona Templeton

Fiona Templeton’s work embraces performance, installation, video, opera, plays and poetry, multi-media and site-specific practices. Her performance and installation work include Delirium of Dreams (1991), ‘an anti-biographical play about the phenomenon and predicament of Camille Claudell,’ Recognition (1996), a multi-media performance created in collaboration with Michael Ratomski, and Cells of Release (1995), an installation created in the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, in collaboration with Amnesty International. Templeton’s award-winning YOU—The City, created as ‘an intimate citywide play for an audience of one’ in Manhattan in 1998, has since been recreated in six countries and languages, including at the London International Festival of Theatre in 1989, and most recently as a key project of Rotterdam Cultural Capital of Europe 2001. For the opening of the Lille European Cultural Capital 2004, she was commissioned to create L’Ile (The Island), a theatre game by appointment.

Templeton has received play commissions from Theater Cocteau-Basel, Switzerland; Art Awareness, Lexington NY; New York State Council on the Arts; the Mickery, Amsterdam, among others. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in both Poetry and Visual Arts (new genres); an Abendzeitung Muenchen Sterne des Jahres for theatre; and two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts for performance, as well as one for playwriting. In 1996-7, she was senior writer-in-residence at the English Faculty of Cambridge University, England, and 2000-2003 Arts and Humanities Research Board Creative Fellow with the Department of Theatre Studies, University of Lancaster, England. In December 2002 she received the annual Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts grant for theatre in New York.

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Recognition (1996).
Courtesy Fiona Templeton

Fiona Templeton’s poetry has been published in a series of volumes, including London, Hi Cowboy and Airdrie. Her other publications include YOU – The City, released by Roof Books in 1990, and Elements of Performance Art, with Anthony Howell. Fiona Templeton’s current project, The Medead, ‘a performance epic retelling of the journey of Medea, is in progress. To date, parts of the performance have been shown in London, Glasgow and New York.

Audience Interaction: A Presence Workshop

Fiona conducted a participatory workshop at Exeter for the Presence Project on 24 May 2006. From the links below, you can access the evolving documentation of this workshop as well as our discussion with Fiona following the event:

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Recognition (1996)
Courtesy Fiona Templeton

'Meaning is not an answer but an apprehension of successive forms, their retention, protention and compatability for coexistence in the mind. The movement of the mind through meaning after meaning, the series of their landscapes, is meaningful' (Templeton, 1990: 143)

For further discussion of Fiona's work, follow this link for Nick Kaye's discussion of YOU--the City, while Caroline Bergvall's article 'Handwriting as a Form of Protest: Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release' is available at [link]. Extensive documentation of Fiona Templeton's work is available through her website at [link].


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