I need to start working out a performance for an exhibition next month which is themed around its location in a house in Brixton, empty for a couple of weeks before the domestic lease runs out. Building on my two Crossed Out Talks called Conversation Piece and What To Do, I want to think about how the ‘domestic’/object-based strand of my work relates to the ideas that have been coming up in my writing and performance work.

At the same time I’m working towards another show in a domestic home which will be very different in tone, with just two artists creating quiet interventions into the fabric of a living space that will continue to be lived in for the duration of the exhibition.

For this second exhibition I want to make small things that might be furniture but have no ostensible purpose. I want to make things that look specifically functional. I’m thinking of amending pieces of existing furniture, and introducing some quietly moving parts as in my Composition with Forks, which was called Conversation Piece once. This might be a reason to develop the chair I’ve had in mind for so long.

Placing my interventions into a living space places the real-life occupants into the role of performers, whether anyone sees them performing the rooms or not. I think they’re specifically performers (rather than participants, or privileged audience members) because the works themselves are once removed. As visitors to the gallery you can’t touch the works and you can’t use them, and moreover it isn’t even clear how they might be used if you had permission to touch. And so there objects remain at arm’s length. The result is that anyone we might imagine using the objects or interacting with them somehow also remains distant.

Just as the objects are held apart from the space around them, so are their users. They’re all in inverted commas, citations lifted loose from the ground around them. Because I can’t quite imagine how a person might use any of the objects, I can’t quite imagine the users themselves, and the effect is that I imagine they aren’t really real – they’re putting it on.

Where I’m coming to is the possibility of integrating the detached position of my objects (in relation to the viewer in the room) with the detached agency of a person (in relation to other people watching). I want to see how this could work as a durational experience in the real-life domestic setting of the Brixton house.

Here I want to try to bring in the concerns of What To Do which I wrote about the other day. I wrote:

My interest through all these gestures has been to draw attention to the surface of the talk itself – not so much in terms of the experience of sitting there, but in terms of the relationship between the viewer and the information embedded inside the talk. I’m interested in how the information (the history of Latin; planting cuttings..) can relate to us in any way; whether it can; whether it’s worth trying to make it relate, and so on. The possibility of engagement is a problem, and happily I find the title of the talk nicely fitting after all.

I think there’s a common concern running through these two strands of my work, which up to now I’ve seen as quite separate things. I don’t know yet what it is that they share. It has something to do with the quietening of their affective force, an interest in the way things can be framed, the relationship between the presence of something and one’s access to that presence. I think it continues to relate back to the old questions I’ve always had about what makes something art, and the “art is something that has a frame around it” thing.

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