Patrick Staff, Cara Tolmie
Litmus Shuffle



7 April 16


Litmus Shuffle, Cara Tolmie and Patrick Staff, 2014
Litmus Shuffle, Cara Tolmie and Patrick Staff, 2014


Performance program accompanying the exhibition Secret Surface. Where Meaning Materializes

3.3.16, 19 h: Clapback by niv Acosta
30.4.16, 10–22 h: Sunrise Sunset with Anna Barham, Auto Italia, Lawrence Lek, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Emily Roysdon, and others

Litmus Shuffle is an ongoing choreographic collaboration between Cara Tolmie and Patrick Staff, which seeks to examine the by-products, detritus or excesses of a shared ‘life’ and ‘work’ along with the communication that forms it, and its possible transformation into reusable material. The work’s iteration at KW is framed within the exhibition Secret Surface. Where Meaning Materializes.

Off-cuts or excess matter of both artists’ singular practices manifest themselves in the performance as various materials, in the wide sense of the term – unused choreographies, discarded images, costumes or texts – alongside the more personal by-products of their friendship and lives, such as clothing and records of more “superficial” exchange. The superficial is considered as the outwardly observable phenomena used in long distance communication like e-mails or the digital exchange of images, which attest to the two artists’ relationship when they are apart, as opposed to the seemingly more substantial, personal and direct communication. Through their repurposing, these leftovers are given new purpose within the performance and become fuel for the ongoing collaborative dialogue.

The superficiality of an encounter (in a sense that one cannot know the real substance of another person) is thus not to be avoided but embraced, and revelations of identity-constructing may thus be observed as they unfold.

Staff and Tolmie will work at KW’s Chora space for a week prior to their performance. The aim of this research period is to develop a new work that consolidates this focused period of experimentation into a fixed performance incorporating dance, text, and sound. The artists’ research draws on a range of formal inquiries – feminist, queer and disability studies; affect and intimacy theory; and investigations into the politics of waste and excess. Litmus Shuffle foregrounds the politics of our lives lived, identities and artist production, and how ultimately these are embedded in complex economic, social and cultural relations.