Hesitate and Demonstrate 1975-1979

Geraldine Pilgrim (2013):

‘…Although Janet’s artistic vision was very different from mine, we had a shared sensibility and understood each other … we knew what we were doing, we knew it to the point that it was almost timed to the finite detail when it was in our heads… we knew what each other was thinking. When we did Points of Departure we begun to realise that we enjoyed working this way: we wrote text, but the text was very much taken from books and films, and we didn’t rehearse, we never rehearsed. …When we made a show we sat in coffee bars, we made most of our shows sat in Patisserie Valerie in Soho. We always knew exactly what we were going to do. We did drawings, we wrote scripts, and we talked. It was the joy of creating together. Our costumes came from Miss Selfridges. We wanted it to be reality. We bought identical dresses and because Janet was blonde and I was brunette we saw each other as contrast. … We were using objects not props; we were creating environment, not sets; and for us that was absolutely integral to what we did.’

‘When H&D became quite successful after the success of Minutes and Scars at the ICA people used to come up and ask: who is your designer, why aren’t they credited? But we didn’t have a designer, we didn’t design it separately, the environment was the show. It was very difficult for theatre people to understand this, that’s why at first they thought we were theatre and then they realised we weren’t, because we didn’t use the same vocabulary.’

‘After [Frozen Moments] a show where we went back to work in a gallery environment, we realised the art world asked us questions we didn’t understand as they wanted us to explain what we were doing, and we didn’t do that. In the performance world they didn’t ask us what we were doing and why. We liked that aspect of it and felt we now belonged more in a performance world than in a fine art world.’

‘We were never seen as part of the feminist theatre movement although we absolutely did what we did because we were women. Janet and I had survived quite challenging times at art school being two of the only four female students in a year with thirty six male students so we were quite aware of our power as female artists, and we were quite aware of our responsibilities as women. We did not take it lightly and we did not let anybody mistreat us. We did not want to be labelled, we wanted to be known for what we did, our work was about us.’

Back to Hesitate and Demonstrate