‘Until My Pencil Runs Out’ is a highly self reflexive durational piece. It both embodies and celebrates that which is buried, assumed or manifested within arts practice. In short, the works subject matter, and its materials are the work itself; the act of making, the labour, the marks made and their duration. The pencil Ginny Reed runs methodically along the studio wall in a continuous line exemplifies all these things in its performance. And it is the pencils performance that counts here, not Ginny’s. Out from the nib the pencil sheds itself in varying line-width steadily and predictably. Ginny’s hand and body are merely a guide. In this context Ginny steers the pencil in the same way one might drive a car; Ginny may be the driver but she is removed from the function and operation of the cars’ performance; the pistons, the engine, the necessary consumption of oil and petrol. Ginny is no more in control of the mechanical and chemical performance of the pencils lead-letting than if she was walking a wayward puppy whose shit cum shavings littered the floor at will.
Perfect by design, the pencil of ‘Until My Pencil Runs Out’ never falters. Its function is dedicated to the mark-making task in hand and cannot fail. Any resulting squiggles and blips evident in the output are human error: Ginny is to blame. Ginny is also wholly responsible for the fragmented nature of ‘Until My Pencil Runs Out’ due to the ultimate discontinuity of the pencil line. This is because the studio door is open, leaving a gaping door-sized hole in the performance through which flocks of bemused viewers come and go. On every circuit of the studio wall Ginny casually passes over the open doorway, seemingly oblivious to this oversight in her ‘continuous’ line. The pencil, however, feels this void acutely. The surface of the wall, its footing, suddenly falls away from under its tip. The lead stutters and is forced to stop in the path of the vast hole over which it cannot draw.
The factor of the open door in ‘Until my pencil runs out’ was a critical oversight. Had the door been shut and the audience enclosed within the same time and space as the performing line of pencil it would have been a much more productive live encounter. However, as it stands the importance of ‘Until My Pencil Runs Out’ as a durational event is negligible. Moreover, given the already missing parts of the line over the open doorway, the exhibition of the spent pencil nubb as the culmination or ‘full stop’ of the performance is meaningless. Ginny could have saved herself the trip to NRLA by better realising the performance on the page.
This piece was originally written with a pencil, whose lead ran out towards the end, soon after the third paragraph….
Rachel Lois Clapham