A pine cupboard sits confidently in a space. You are able to walk around it . In the space near the cupboard is a plain, blank chair. As you navigate the space you hear audio an account of the cupboards contents, each object inhabiting the cupboard has a story and a history. The cupboard is magnetic and has collected many traces and will continue to do so for as long as it has a owner. By releasing it to a gallery space and moving it out of its current home , it will start to record a new environment and absorb viewers responses to it being there. The chair quietly occupies the space inviting the audience to remember and project their own memories and pictures.
My work stages the everyday. I collect props and use them to create a narrative.
My work often responds to site. This is the most rewarding way so far in respect to creating artworks. Often objects will present themselves or sometimes the space will dictate what I will need to find.
For the piece I presented for Park 14 I responded to what was formally the priests house. The house is unique in its style, a mix of European architecture. The house sits perfectly in the park and is loved by all who pass by it, a disperate, fragile derelict house vibrating a sense of history. My aim was to revive the house and bring it back to life. I chose to do this by installing a washing line. The line would have new freshly washed linen, white sheets and a small smock dress and a nightie to give a hint of who might be occupying the house. The washing line is a very domestic and solid way of staging occupancy, other objects were too temporary an impression. Visitors enjoyed the washing blowing in the breeze taking them to childhood memories or a time gone by. A romantic scene, one that invited you into the house and led you to imagine who once lived there conjuring also our own dreams of living there. Some visitors were convinced that I lived there as I put the washing out in the morning, a fleeting performance. I added two milk bottles at the beginning of the path, just delivered and waiting to be taken in, adding to the mystery and forcing a reality.
The viewer and spectator come into play adding interaction and inter-play of the viewer in relation to the object.
The notion of re- seeing and forgetting what we know, we know. How we over familiarise ourselves with objects and how they function. My work re thinks the relationship of these common objects. Using objects as props to stage narratives in order to create relational response from the viewer.
Saskia Olde Wolbers was recently commissioned by Artangel to create an audio installation, 'Yes these Eyes are the Windows'. She responded to a house in Hackford Rd where Van Gogh had formally resided when he came to London. Visitors waited outside and rang the bell at an allotted time. The door opened and viewers stood in the very small narrow hall, the lights were dim and a slight feeling of apprehension grew: there were no handles on the doors, the light faded and we were left in darkness. After what seemed like ages one door opened to let us in to the rooms on the ground floor. Voices began to be heard and you acclimatized to being in a very derelict house, the ceiling being held up by supporting struts. A story is being told about who lived in the house and you start to realise that it is the ‘house telling the story. There is the feeling that the house is in control, that slowly we the visitors could be consumed and become part of its history. Van Gogh is perhaps the bait to tempt us to this property yet I did not get a strong sense of the artist being present in anyway. The blue plaque with text of who once lived there hung outside the house, creates a ‘specialness’. Is it this specialness that lures us into a fantasy of being with the artist? The sound bombarded the viewers in bursts and was layered as we navigated the house. The sensory experience was confident and well-constructed. Having created an intervention at Cannizaro Park for Park14 and again in Turner’s House, I was keen to experience this installation.
‘Site Writing ‘a talk by Jane Rendell that accompanied Art Angels commission was very important in bringing together some of the key topics that have featured within my work. These topics and ideas compliment the pieces of work I have recently made. Jane Rendell spoke about transitional spaces and about our emotional responses to abandoned buildings, buildings that get old and why we want to keep some buildings rather than others. Jane discussed thoughts on ‘saving things for eternity that are transient. This reminded me of all the objects I talk about during the audio for ‘Pippa’s Cupboard’. Most if not all the objects have all been saved for some purpose and indefinitely. Memory is important, as it relates to history and how we value the past , how /what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget. History can be viewed as going backwards and be seen as a decline rather than progress and are we sure all history is what we believe it to be? Saskia creates numerous layers playing with our perceptions of time and truth and rearranges the memic
Jane spoke about the re-arrangement of words and things and how words present us with an acoustic impression and things become optical. Within my audio piece I was aware of not just creating a visual picture of the things in the cupboard but finding a way for the viewer to enter the work and imagine their own story of a similar thing. By positioning the audio from the first person created a personal and less controlled picture than using a straight inventory style commentary.
The artist Susan Hiller has been useful to look at . Her work is labelled
‘paraconceptual’. Her ideas are not really akin to mine but her styling and visual concepts are interesting as a reference. I would have liked to have visited her show at the Tate Britain in 2011 to see the actual work.
Visiting Adrian Villar Rojas at the Serpentine last year when he showed ‘Today We Reboot The Planet’ was incredible as his use of clay was extraordinary. I have used clay in my practice and to experience it on a grand and unfired way made me want to revisit the medium again. Upon reading the book that accompanied the show, I fund it to begin to relate to the work I have been making, The Swimming Pool, shown at The Rag Factory .
To embark on a very instinctive and site responsive work left me with questions to the choices I had made. It is difficult to understand why Rojas makes the things he does, his point of reference relates to uniting documentary and fiction.
Bringing together a team for each project with different sensibilities, this makes for work that is both ‘genuine and heartfelt together with the ‘cynical and knowing’. ‘The artist is the catalyst and centrifugal force, but also part of a larger machine, which stretches beyond the site- specific’. I really like this quote. The use of actors and staging , going beyond , re-staging and recreating a story, so the work becomes part of the landscape. The notion of improvisation and intuitively finding the ‘meaning’ of things. He reclaims scale and emotion inviting us to dream about the past , lose ourselves in the present and float into the future.
Last year I initiated a project called The Light in the House that Turner Built. In a more literal sense I worked with the atmospheric light and time, using the idea of the everyday. Making a timelapse film, I invited viewers to experience different layers of time. I had worked with timelapse before and felt that this medium would really capture a sense of the past with a feeling of experiencing this in the present. Using light as the prop and a big window, I filmed over 24hrs using stills taken every minute. I created an intervention around the ‘idea’ of Turners fascination with light, yet in a more intimate and personal way. An audio accompanied the work and this was made up of sounds ; bird song and the traffic recorded from outside the house. I would like to extend this project further and film other rooms over 24 hours. Using props or other types of audio that could focus on areas of Turner’s life such as his relationship with his father and the parties staged in the house. Turner designed the house himself and was influenced by Sir John Soane. Using my project relating to marks left by objects could be a good place to start. I could develop an architectural theme and use my technique to mark out certain areas that would form a map with clues
One of my interests is in using text, particularly in my first text piece which was performed during a presentation. The text was used to help with organising a way to understand my process of collecting objects and how to use them in a space. I created a text that led the viewer to imagine the objects but in their own way and use their own version of interpreting the images I was creating. I read the text out aloud and then repeated it ,this added another dimension to thinking about the words and anticipating how many times I might repeat it.
This performative text inspired a site responsive piece I did for Russell space.
I chose to use the view out of one of the windows and document what I saw out of it for about 10mins. I drafted a text that described static and moving. I painted a picture of time and printed it on A4 and simply pinned it onto the cork board that occupied my space. As the viewer read the text they were able look out themselves and try to find the images I had found and paint their own picture.
The piece was quite and unassuming which could easily be missed . Documenting something ordinary and ‘everyday’ inspired my later projects.
The Swimming Pool which led on from View out of the Window, also responded to site. Using objects found at the Factory I composed and constructed a narrative. I made decision to open up this piece as I wanted to expose it and invite participation. The way I did this was to build the narrative into a script using the objects loosely to influence me. I created three characters .The dialogue was open ended and loose. I wanted a performative element and so invited a friend to perform and gave her instructions to choose two other people to help her read out and perform the script. It was up to her to decide how long she would repeat the script and improvise the construction.
What happened was really interesting. The beginning was uncomfortable as you felt the awkwardness of the actors but as they relaxed and began to feel the text and 'perform 'it grew into an odd romance. The open text created its own narrative which could change with who might perform it.The objects provided a way to relate to the site and when not being used became a modern sculpture within the space.
I have been been researching the idea of the spectator and the idea of 'truth'. My work becomes animated when the viewer is present. I create a narrative and often an historical language that I present to the audience .I encourage them to partake in their own story and this gets imbued into the work . I have been reading 'The Emancipated Spectator' by By Jaques Ranciere. Ranciere talks about the passive spectator, the collective and about Illusion as opposed to knowledge and action taking conclusions formulated from Plato , where ignorance causes suffering. He says ; 'What is required is a theatre without spectators, where those in attendance learn from as opposed to being seduced by images; where they become active participants as opposed to passive voyeurs.' He goes on to talk about distance, measuring the distance of what we know and what we don't know. Relating this to passivity and activity, those who 'possess a capacity and those who do not.' Emancipation begins when we challenge the opposition between viewing and acting.
The way I compose my practice is to understand these relationships and provoke a drama. Ranciere says,'The spectator also acts, like the pupil or scholar. She observes, selects, compares, interprets. She links what she sees with a host of other things, that she has seen on other stages , in other kinds of place.' He talks about contemporary art leaving a particular domain and swapping places and powers, of blurring boundries.
How we link what we do know with what we don't know. 'Like researchers, artists construct stages where the manifestation and effect of their skills are exhibited, rendered uncertain in the terms of the new idiom ...the effect of the idiom cannot be anticipated. It requires spectators to who play the role of active interpreters who develop their own translation in order to appropriate the 'story' and make it their own story. An emancipated community is a community of narrators and translators.'
In reference to Plato , I have been reading 'Heidegger, The Essence of Truth'.Heidegger which questions our relationship with what truth is, the essence - universal of truth, of what is known to us, proposition. Heidegger talks of the presenting of a story. The allegory of the cave. 'We speak of an 'allegory', also of 'sensory image, of a sort that provides a hint or clue.'..'an inner necessity to the fact that when Plato wants to say something fundamental and essential in philosophy , he always speaks in an allegory and places us before a sensory image.'
The View Outside the Window
The Swimming Pool
Wimbledon College of Arts
The Light in the House that Turner Built
Filmed on Location, St Margarets Twickenham
Art Angel Commission Site, 'Yes these eyes are the Windows'
81 Hackford Road
Cannizaro Park - Park 14
Le Belle et Le Bette
Species of Spaces George Perec
The Emancipated Spectator Jacques Ranciere
The Russian Linesman Mark Wallinger
The Essence of Truth Heidegger
Deleuze and Space Eds Buchanun and Lambert
Sense and Non-Sense Maurice Merleau-Ponty
The Poetics of Space Gaston Bachaulard
Today We Reboot The Planet Adrian Villar Rojas
Inside the White Cube Brian O'doherty