Pierce Starre’s new piece of performance art, /hɪə/, promises to show Derby what it means to really listen.

Before we get stuck in to the meat of /hɪə/, we thought we might give you a bit of background on Pierce. After all, it’s not every day that you find such a Derby-resident embarking on multiple performance art related adventures.

Who’s Pierce Starre then?

Pierce Starre is an emerging performance artist who’s lived in Derby for 9 years. The last five years have seen Pierce work as an Intern for the FORMAT International Photography Festival and as an intern with prolific photographer and patron of the FORMAT International photography festival Brian Griffin.

In 2014 Pierce presented a performance art piece called Born to Birth on a blog site called Tumblr. Pierce walked from Derby to Liverpool over the course of one month, starting on the day he was born ending at the place of his birth.

55•99•67 was a performance to camera piece exhibited at the QUAD in Derby in 2015 as part of an exhibition titled Movement and Perception. Pierce was given a set of co-ordinates and an ordinance survey map and asked to respond to the space. He then produced documentation of his presence in the space.

In early 2017 Pierce presented a performance art piece titled Restrictus at The University of Derby, which explored the Institution as a place of restriction. Restrictus consisted of Pierce making square boxes out of red PVC tape on the floor of the exhibition and around the feet of people entering the space. The piece was simultaneously streamed live on Facebook and fed back through a monitor within the exhibition space. The space, which had been deemed suitable for exhibitions was later found to be inappropriate, due to it also being a place of work and study. Staff and students found themselves involuntarily becoming part of the art work, which led to the 12 hour piece being restricted and eventually shut down by the University after 1 hour and 47 minutes. This highlighted the restrictive nature of the institution.

Cool, cool, what’s /hɪə/ then?

Here’s Pierce’s proposal for /hɪə/ in his own words:

“The emphasis of this work is sound. /hɪə/ is the phonetic sound for the words hear
and here. To hear is to perceive with the ear sound made by someone or something.
It is to listen or to pay attention to. The word here is to be in or at a place or

The artist has grown up in a family where he is a conduit of sound. Both his parents
are profoundly Deaf. His ears assist his parents in communication and enable them
to access a hearing world.

Due to the artists parents being Deaf he has grown up in two worlds with two
languages, one visual and one audible. British Sign Language is a rich language that
is intrinsically linked to sight. This relationship has created a heighten sense of
visual awareness in the artist.

Over the entire duration of the exhibition, the artist will be positioned on a chair in
the gallery space with a blindfold over his eyes. He will remain completely silent as
he listens intently. Surrendering eyesight and renouncing visual and verbal
responses as well as remaining completely still and present in the space will provide
the artist with a unique opportunity to place the emphasis on his ears and explore
what it means to hear. The audience in turn will be able to explore their own
reactions to ears that are completely ready to listen.”

Anything else?

Devine Local

The work will feature in a new arts festival called Devine Locale. It runs from 18 August – 1 September. The festival launches from 6pm – 9pm on the 18th August. /hɪə/ will be open to the public from 11am on the 18th August.  Details about the festival are available here.