RABBIT WORKS

The rabbit mask serves as a proxy, a means of distancing the performer from the audience as they mutually critique their shared ecology.
Working with existing cultural stimuli - from a Shoenberg opera to antique harmonium, Kantian philosophy to a national holiday - the 'rabbit' acts a mirror that exists beyond sense, seeking to pull the audience away from their pre-existing bias and cultural understandings. 

If a certain amateurism is tolerated, or even expected, within street performance, 'A Critique of Pure Representation' engages with this by leading an entirely unrehearsed choir in the performance of a score that amounts to no more than a series of undefined symbols and vowel sounds. With traditional musical elements reduced to the placement of symbols upon 8-beat long bars, and a pitch instruction consisting of high, middle, or low, the onus of the work is on the performers' ability to create unique sounds with the full range of their voice, rather than fulfilling any pre-existing standard, or demonstrating any identifiable musicality.

Indeed, the very idea of amateurism is problematised by the fact that even the most successful rendition of the score sits well outside of any cultural notions of skill or virtuosity. The choir are not only unrehearsed but unknown to each other, having met for the first time in the moment of performance. The temporal/spatial context makes it clear that what is taking place holds some internal logic: the performance takes place on Easter Sunday, and is led by a giant bunny rabbit; the choir are holding scores, following a conductor, and starting and stopping at set intervals. However, the cumulative sense of the work defies any expectations that might be imbued from its individual elements. Its highly orchestrated nature - costumes, scores, props, a conductor - combined with a clearly comic aesthetic, suggests that the work does not simply not make cumulative sense to the general public (a criticism often levelled against heavily academic or avant-garde art), but rather that it does not make cumulative sense at all.

 

To experience the event of the work is not to visit its individual elements one by one, and to draw a conclusion from their totality, but to perceive them as an evolving mesh of concurrent experiences. By using easily recognisable objects, contexts, and temporalities, A Critique of Pure Representation relies upon the existing cultural knowledge of its audience to point towards a sensible outcome – crucially, however, to perceive its elements linearly adds up to an overall experience that never resolves in sense.