Monday, 24 October 2011

Pipilotti Rist

View of work installed at Hayward Gallery

I can't say enough good things about this exhibition, it was ethereal beautiful and relaxing but also gruesome humorous and humbling.
I was enthralled by a piece called "Suburban brain" which included a tiny replica of a typical suburban house with working lights in the windows that flicked on and off like a home. I just kept watching the orange curtains light up and throw hazy beams out onto the pristine back garden, thinking of the Sims computer game and getting pangs of nostalgia.

"Selfless In The Bath Of Lava" (still shown above) really made me think about problems with my own work and made me a little bit angry too (at myself) because it reminded me of an epiphany I had a few years ago after finding a tiny shard of glass on the floor with my entire kitchen reflected in it. At the time and since then I've only applied what I learned to my painting work and I'm still doing this terrible pigeonholing with most things that I acquire. It's strange how you can think you're suddenly aware of so much and yet still not grasp the full potential of that knowledge.

The exhibition as a whole was strange for me because it had a commanding presence but it was commanding you to be free, to stop acting with normal gallery etiquette. Her individual projections communicate visceral body awareness in their specific content but it is the delivery of them that actually asks, if not forces you to try and recognize that your body is always active and present.

"Selfless In The Bath Of Lava" which you have to crouch to see and "I'm not the girl" where you have to stick your head in a box brings your mind back to your body's exterior actions while the giant mirror screen lounge room displaying "Lobe of the Lung" (which was like a REALLY long shoegaze music video from the 90s) brings your awareness to the passive movement and energy inside the body.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Collaborative installation/performance with Laura Gardner

Using a device of temptation (the cupcake) we wanted to investigate human behaviour in the context of morality and like previous work, etiquette.

We baked and decorated cupcakes and left them completely unattended and unsignposted on a table where we knew a lot of people would traffic between studios while we filmed from a secret position. We also placed a sound recording device under the table to catch the conversation of anyone approaching the cakes.

Our cakes pre-experiment

Every cake from the plate was eventually stolen and this was not the expected outcome for me. I expected people to be much more timid, I expected the amount (if not more) of attention the cakes received but that only one or two people would be audacious enough to take them.

Now that I’m thinking of these as more of scientific or psychological experiments there are more possibilities for the work, particularly it’s final presentation. Should we be drawing up estimated outcomes, should we be documenting more precise predictions than the speculative conversations during a tea break?

Could mock calculations and hypotheses be presented in a more whimsical state?

This piece really tested ourselves and was most importantly about helping to refine the methods we use to perform and install. Technically there were issues with this experiment and some documentation was lost.

Something that is still intriguing me at this thing, this activity, is that I’m not really sure what to call it because while our previous work was easy to label performance today’s “experiment” is difficult to describe. In a sense it seemed like the cakes were the performers and in baking them we embodied in the tray of cakes part of ourselves, or the characters we needed them to play in our theatre.

Also the concept of the cupcakes themselves is interesting to me at the moment. After reading the article in this months Artist Review “Consider the cupcake..” I’m thinking more about how the cupcake has become some kind of cultural icon, that if we used some less popular type of cake there would have been less temptation. A lot of people would agree that apple crumble is far more delicious than a cupcake but the cupcake has become more of a visual icon, very often cupcakes are decorated in a way that makes them look inedible (in fact two people were discussing over our cakes whether they were real or not). It’s beginning to have the presence of some kind of fashion accessory, that being seen eating a cupcake is very trendy compared to eating for example a flapjack.