Sue Tompkins

Sue Tompkins has been involved in the Glasgow-based post-punk band Life Without Buildings and has realised performances with the group Elisabeth CO. She presently works with solo or duo performances and drawings. Her object-collage based works can contain fur, magazine cut-outs, plastic bottles, ribbons, felt-tip pen drawings and more recently text drawings made with a typewriter, in which words slip and slide across the page with the staccato rhythm of her performances. Tompkins talks about her work in terms of editing, layering, arranging and configuring. The patterns that repeat, the overlapping of words and phrases appear as accusations, statements, commentaries, requests…. The depiction of phrases from songs that are whirling in Tompkins’ mind, or quotes from film or mass media play an important role in her text drawings. Her selections of material are made at a subjective level that lends a density to her performances and gives them permanence through rhythm and repetition. Sarah Lowndes defines Tompkins’ production as being informed by the absent real and the romantic other. Apart from this, her works recall the futurist poetry and surrealist performances that took place in cafés and bars in the early 20th century. Her reactionary practice recalls autonomy. Her drawings ask for and state autonomy – autonomy from Tompkins’ side to bring together these phrases and words, emotions and thoughts and autonomy from the audience’s side to recall, think, evaluate, digest and reject to digest….

The performance of Sue Tompkins entitled Elephants Galore, which will take place at the opening of the exhibition Whenever It Starts It Is The Right Time, is a solo live performance where Tompkins exercises through words and phrases. The repetitions of words lead to a melody, and Tompkins keeps track of its rhythm. The performance can be seen as progressive singing and as a commentary on the bridging of signal, sound, word, voice and speech. Her play with pronunciation underlines the importance of nuances, and has the power to change the meaning and expression of the words.