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Guy Harding

first performed on September 14, 2013
Dee Why Beach, Sydney, Australia
performed four times in 2013


Sydney, Australia


“wItness bench” is a public performance designed to trigger awareness, through Authentic Movement, of vulnerability within our community. I created this work in response to the theme “NUMBER” for the public art festival AiOP/Australia and chose to address society’s blindness to the incalculable number of people who are in need.

The concept of “wItness bench” was to place myself in a vulnerable position in order to gain attention from passersby, subsequently conveying an important message. Authentic Movement is spontaneous dance executed with one’s eyes closed and is generally used as a warm-up exercise for therapeutic purposes or for generating new choreographic material. When I dance in this way, I drop into a movement quality that I struggle to find with my eyes open. When observing Authentic Movement danced by others, I become drawn into an extremely personal world that I would not ordinarily be privy to. This has led me to believe that this type of dance could be used in an innovative way in performance, and it was this idea that inspired the creation of “wItness bench.”

Using a public bench as my guide, I committed to an hour of public performance, channeling thoughts and experiences of insecurity. I drew upon the difficult times in my life and, through the technique of Authentic Movement, I discovered unexpected moments of vulnerability that lie outside of my own experience. The plethora of vulnerable people in society is barely covered by statistics, and most people in need become invisible.

The reaction to this work exceeded my expectations. Many passersby stopped and became concerned for my welfare. Some were entranced by my movement, while others were repulsed and confounded by the idea that I would choose to perform in this way. Once the reason and concept of my piece was further explained by my festival helper, many of those who were challenged by what they saw became drawn in and intrigued by what I was doing. This is why I chose to create this work. Through public art performance, I wanted to confront the barrier that people shield themselves with when faced with an abnormal situation and instead provoke a feeling of empathy to take its place.

It is vital for me as an artist to delve into aspects of life that lack representation, and the fragile beauty of vulnerability that is often overlooked is what lies at the heart of “wItness bench.”