I’M WITH YOU (SCARBOROUGH)
CHRISTA HOLKA, JOHANNA LINSLEY, R. JUSTIN HUNT
“I’m With You (Scarborough)” was a series of performances-for-documentation that were developed and implemented in a collaborative environment, at a house in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK. “I’m With You” is an ongoing collective performance project which has so far popped up in gardens, houses, clubs, books and clifftops around London and the UK. The project revolves around issues of domesticity, occupation, queer space, and speculative community.
In 2010, UK artist Kane Cunningham purchased a house perched on the edge of an eroding clifftop in Scarborough, North Yorkshire for £3,000 on his credit card. The UK’s National Trust predicted the house would slide into the seaside below within the month, and for Cunningham the purchase constituted a mix of neo-romantic conceptual art and a commentary on the disastrous relationship between credit and the housing market that is currently being played out in the UK and worldwide. Two years later, the house is still standing and Cunningham has converted the site into a studio and project space. A group of live artists organized by the “I’m With You” project visited the Scarborough house in July of 2011, in order to respond to the space individually, in pairs, and as a large group. The artists were asked to develop a performance that could also have a life in documentation-these would be compiled in a DIY publication.
When we arrived, we learned that while Cunningham presents his house project as an individual gesture, in fact the building is located within a small community of homeowners, many of whom are unhappy with the attention the project has received from local, national, and international press and broadcast media. The performances-for-documentation, which resulted from our encounter with the house on Knipe Point were composed of bathtub conversations, embroidered text, tattooed wall sentences, improvised type-writing, sea recordings, Flemish portraiture, forensic evidence, scatological fiction, and a kitten saved from over the cliff edge. The performances also subtly recorded the precarity inscribed in this site, from the literal and conceptual precarity Cunningham emphasizes in his own discourse around the project, to the interpersonal tensions, conflicts, and failures of understanding that often place community-based artworks on the edge.