Review of Pain and I audio performance




Pain & ISarah Hopfinger

I was having a bad, treacle sort of day. I hadn’t intended to check out Sarah Hopfinger’s Pain & I, her autobiographical audio piece about living with chronic pain. I merely loaded the Take Me Somewhere hub in search of something to distract me from my brain. Much to my subsequent delight, I stumbled upon her work, available upon demand. I plugged my headphones in, lay on the floor, closed my eyes and listened.

Originally conceived of as a choreographic studio performance for a live audience, the work is repurposed and directed into my ears. I listen to Hopfinger addressing her pain, calling it in. Through poetic text and the sounds of distant strings, she steadily outlines the frustrating, romantic and ultimately deep relationship she has with this unwanted life partner. I’m initially lured into thinking the work is relaxing or meditative, however it isn’t long before the author’s words catch and become stuck in anxious loops, akin to Tim Etchell’s ‘Moving Words’, only with greater feeling. Yet through the gentle force of repetition, these linguistic knots are massaged and dispersed. Rest, Hopfinger is telling me, is an act of listening which requires regular practice. 

Pain and I is primarily about the particularities of living with chronic pain. That being said, the work resonates with wider themes that are returned to throughout the festival. Hopfinger’s audio work demonstrates the immense value of learning to be with that which you can’t leave – pain, grief, regrets, vices, circumstances, histories, presentness. This is work, hard work – a labour that other artists and audiences at Take Me Somewhere are grappling with too.'

Media coverage

TitlePain and I
Degree of recognitionNational
Media name/outletExeunt Magazine
Media typeWeb
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom