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saved Aug 31/2007 10:37AM by Nick Kaye
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What do you mean?' (Templeton, 1990: 21)

'YOU-the City was an intimate Manhattanwide play for an audience of one. On keeping an appointment at an office in Times Square, a client (audience memeber) was passed through a series of mainly scripted encounters at both indoor and outdoor locations in Midtown and the Westside of Manhattan, including a church, an apartment, a car ride, and reaching a climax of realization when the client became the object of one of the various handoffs in a Hell's Kitchen playground. YOU-the City was produced in New York City in 1988. It was re-produced in London in 1989 by the London International Festival of Theater. A production in The Hague is to take place in 1990. This book includes the original New York script of the performance, performance instructions, notes, maps, charts, and photographs of the event as it was played out.' [link]
'You constantly invent your "you". You believe (and imitate) every "you" you hear or read.' (Templeton, 1990: 14)

Nick Kaye writes about this piece

The British artist Fiona Templeton’s site-specific work YOU - The City (1988) has addressed the limits of work and site, and so a performance of site-specificity. Constructed as ‘an intimate Manhattan-wide play for an audience of one’ in the form of ‘a journey through both known and obscure parts of the city’ (Templeton 1990: ix), You - The City offers its ‘clients’ guided tours of Manhattan through twenty or more locations hosted by a series of performers.

Addressed directly by each performer through a flow of text that turns on the word ‘you’, YOU - The City confronts each client with a ‘radically interactive’ ‘play’ (Templeton 1990: ix) where conventional oppositions between performance and environment, performer and spectator, are continually challenged.

'Do I mean you? I'm here with you. But it's you who make you possible. I have to work on you, till you know how you are to be made.' (Templeton, 1990: 29)

Recounting his response to its later realization in London, Tim Etchells suggests that here:

'The old dialectical separations between inside and outside, fiction and reality, self and other, audience and performer, were here exploited and blurred, leaving the strange sense that the city and oneself were now almost the same thing, a shifting network of narratives, places, touches, voices, lost puns, myths and intimacies.' (Etchells 1994: 119)

In her ‘Afterword’ to the performance, Templeton recalls the articulation of relationships between performer and client not only through this text, but in the playing of cinematic conceits through live performance, where a

'non-theatrical location provides the possibilities of long-shot, including the performer’s choosing to frame him or herself against a close-up or distant background close-up is reclaimed in YOU from the automatic seduction of spectacle and replaced into presence, live responsibility, theatre in your face'. (Templeton 1990: 141)

'You expose yourself. "Brilliant", you will say. It must have cost you a lot. You'll convince yourself. Does it exists outside of you? You can't get me out of your head. Will you have second thoughts? Will you want to go home? (Templeton, 19890: 109)

In YOU - The City, not only are the oppositions which Etchells identifies implicitly under question, but at its culmination the client’s implication in the construction of the work is brought into sharp focus. In Act IV scene iii, the ‘climax of the piece’ (Templeton 1990: 143), the client finds herself back in the place of an earlier scene, a playground, where, as a ‘less advanced client’, she had walked towards and crossed the path of a ‘performer’. Now, though, the client discovers herself being seen in the role of ‘performer,’ as she faces an oncoming client moving through the earlier scene. Here, Templeton suggests

'a revelation and a certain power are yours: it is on being made to wait for the client on the far side that you realise, if you had not already been warned by the fact that the pronoun ‘you’ has suddenly disappeared from the text that you can now be a performer in any way whatsoever to the approaching client, including choosing to admit to the identity of the client, which the less advanced one may or may not be willing now to believe.' (Templeton 1990: ix-x)

'You resume the "you" just to get rid of it. Make the distinction in manner.' (Templeton, 1990: 114)

In this moment, the ‘advanced client’ is subject to a blocking together, around her own presence, of the roles of ‘client’ and ‘performer’. Entrapped into seeing herself act out the work, the client discovers herself at once inside the piece, as performer, and outside, as a witness to its effect. Like Duchamp’s Ready-made, this effect rests upon the viewer’s awareness of an opposition, here ‘performer’ and ‘viewer,’ at the very moment in which its construction is revealed to be contingent upon her looking. In this way, YOU - The City sets a conceptual trap, in which the client becomes witness, to herself, in the act of performing the oppositions in which the work is defined. Indeed, in this moment, Templeton’s site-specific performance reveals its deferral from inside to outside, as, in its positioning of the viewer, it at once constructs, exposes, and upsets its own limits.

'The word "you" is the pronoun of recognition, of reply, of accusation, of balance; beyond the visual, animate, returnable; "you" assumes and creates relationship.'(Templeton, 1990: 139)
Nick Kaye's abstracts are from his book, Site Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation (Routledge 2000)
For an online article by Dell Olsen on this piece see [link]