What is the nature of human touch and human contact in contemporary music performance, both in general and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic? In a time when bodies must be kept at several meters distance, what comes of works which explicitly call for closeness, physical contact, and sharing? How might these works be interpreted differently in light of the COVID-19 pandemic? Percussionist and performer Jennifer Torrence reflects on the impact of the pandemic on her artistic practice and on her research as part of the project entitled Performing Precarity, which seeks to explore the inherent risks in performance when musicians and audiences are entangled in codependent structures. In light of COVID-19, this exposition attempts to unfold and trace modes of vulnerability in contemporary music performance—from human contact via eye contact and physical touch, to the precarious negotiation of shared space—and to reflect on how such encounters might breed new understandings and knowledge.
Jennifer Torrence is a percussionist, performer, artistic researcher, curator, and teacher based in Oslo, Norway. Her practice explores themes such as the body, noise, precariousness, queerness, and collective making in experimental music. She has performed in diverse settings in twenty-five countries across four continents and is currently a member of Pinquins and an artistic researcher and percussion teacher at the Norwegian Academy of Music.