Bobby Baker, How to Live

Review in Issue 19-2 | Summer 2007

Performance artist Bobby Baker spent years investigating Daily Life in her celebrated series of that name. But what follows Daily Life? Big questions call for big answers. After years of research, Bobby Baker is ready to give us the answer to the biggest question of all: How to Live. Eleven skills precisely are what Bobby Baker recommends in this charming mockery of self-help therapies used in the treatment of mental health. Eleven skills precisely, each one served up with thinly veiled reference to Bobby Baker’s own experiences of living (56 years and two months of it to be precise, as of the date of this show), and punctuated by video and still projections Throughout, she returns to the idea that success in living is ‘in the detail’, in the smallness of things, and likewise the delight of this show is in the detail – the momentary manic grimaces, the short asides, the delicate interplay of sensible ideas against the more ludicrous and, of course, the attention to sensible, practical down-to-earth shoes. On stage Bobby Baker is gentle but impish, nestling in an anti-theatrical territory, drawing focus to the exasperations of daily life and the effect of these, as well as sending up the techniques of the self-help movement. It is the projections that serve this so well. Placed as punctuations to the explanation of each skill they elicit fits of giggles for the plain simplicity of each ‘skill’. Of course this is all supported by the able assistance of the ‘patient’, a shiny garden pea. What is most enjoyable about Baker’s work is the simple presentation of a human being riding the waves of the world and trying to make sense of it through the art event. A treat for bad days.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-2
p. 31