O(h)n no mr. B.



O(h)n no mr. B.
- A question of stepping into character with a risk of (sudden) disappearance

Duration: 25 -30 min.

In the performance o(h)n no mr. B. Marie Thams again addresses Bartleby, the protagonist of Herman Melville's short story Bartleby the Scrivener (1853).
With o(h)n no mr. B. Thams aims to tackle the possible no, which Bartleby testifies to. With point of departure in their initial meeting in 2010 she looks at the development of her investigations and interest for Bartley's “preferring not to” until today, zooming in on the possibility to act in negation. With renewed focus on her original question to Bartleby: "What did you do before stopping doing so?", the mood is marked by continued insistence on ungraspable production and human “unproductive” will (seen in the light of the late-capitalist labour market logics), now joint with a call for action to mr. B.

The work includes three texts: Letter to mr. Bartleby(2011), Attn: Intention (2014) and the new script O(h)n no mr B. (2017).

O(h)n no mr. B.
Photos: Rie Hovmann Rasmussen

Excerpt of SCRIPT O(h)n no mr. B.:

So, mr. B!


You were here before you said 'no'. Before you preferred not to. You stood up before lying down. You were here refusing to leave or to produce. You were here, are you still so? Or did you end your existence by saying 'no'? Are you possible at all?


You vanish. Say no. Will differently. Vanishes. To what good? To open mindedness? Autonomy? Refusal of deeds as means to an end? This is a question. Please, Bartleby, take your time to answer.

No no

Desire is supposed to be in my work. With my work. Growing through labour. Through high velocity in a constant spin. In my mind. In my finger tips on the keyboard. In the pen. In my utterance and reflection. In my production. Not as much in the labouring as in the result. Desire - it is here I find you.


A feeling of responsibility. A seductive quality in your willing not to. Horror of ending lying dead in a courtyard. Not willing to drink. To eat. To exist. Taking a stand. No thanks to the hollowing spin of working logics. No thank you.

No, aha

You. You are the presence of an absent, a faculty, an unpredictable future. A wish to step into character – and then - sudden disappearance. Disappearance of known characteristics. Of recognisable value.


In my wish for you to be a strong symbol of all potential, of a possible no – or rather of all the possibilities that 'no' contains – I grab your example and turn my head away from the fact that you indeed vanish. Step into character. And vanish. Moves over to an uncertain reality, dead of 'preferring not to'. Do I wrongly mythologize you, make you a legend? A fallen one?


Please stand up! Did you give up? Are you finished when not working? Show me courage.


Are you stating an example of lack of self-government? No longer taking care of your own employability, not counter-acting your precariousness. But reclaiming your own body, own time? And fading away.

. . .