Exhibition: Part-I (Private View)
by Beauchamp Art
Part-I Private View
Documentation of the Part-I private view, featuring the meal of carrot soup, a speech by Nick, a performance by Filipa, and my video piece being passed around on an iPad.
The general audience reception for the private view was inherently positive, with a fairly reasonable number of our peers attending the event, and a few tutors passing through, along with students head to other workshops and areas of the studio stopping to looking in intrigue, being drawn into the participatory atmosphere, or hasten on by the overpowering smell of onions.
(Photo by Kelly Briggs)
Besides Kelly, whose presence was felt as an overseer of all things orange and orchestrator of events, all of the featured artists participated in the eating of the communal soup which became a Performance/Event in its own right. A exclusive group activity which demonstrated selective participation; as only the artist could partake, the audience being put into the secondary position of bystanders. Such a audience may be accustomed to the common place formalities of most of our student opening events and the presence of light refreshments may be force to query their relationship with the exhibiting space, and role in the activities.
Furthermore, Nick performed a speech about participation which we had discussed as a group previous, though was not scripted too exactly. Kelly had placed two flowers in front of each sitter to be distributed amongst the audience. Moreover, as Filipa was using a smaller, more intimate table set up for her performance, and due to wearing the table cloth as a dress, she had a pivotal role in the orientation of the tables, and so found her place at the head of the table, with an empty space at the opposite, unfilled by Kelly; suggesting a sense of non-interaction as participation.
Although the soup was exclusively for the artists, at the closing event, Part-You, there was to be food and soup for all those that attended; returning to the more common place inclusivity of the food arrangement at an art event.
II CRT TV
The display of the video on the CRT monitor worked fairly effectively amongst the other works, and after lowering the volume slightly, after a discussion with the group; so it could still be heard but would not be intrusive. Alongside the smell of onions and distribution of daisies, there was a evident cross-pollination/contamination of the works that proved interesting. The video looped, though the media play would go to a black screen for a second at the end of each play through, so for future similar exhibitions I will put a larger video file that features the clip multiple times, so it would repeat more smoothly, more frequently. The same problem occurs with DVDs, the only guaranteed way to provide a perfect loop is to edit it in the video software. Nevertheless, there was a sense of continuum in the final frame leading back to the first, and when accompanied by the Tablet version of the piece in the private view, this was negligible; and for the rest of the time it was being displayed, it was only being seen in passing, not in full.
II iPad (Share)
The iPad version that accompanied the TV was well received by the audience, and they participated as anticipated, by passing it around on the Share page. Dividing into a series of short sections aided the piece as it made it easier for the viewer to engage with intimately, on a one-to-one basis, whilst the TV version fell into the background. The sound from the iPad did get lost in the ambience of the space, and it may have been sensible to accompany it with headphones, adding to the isolation of the medium; though it was not detrimental to the overall effect and reception of the piece. Moreover, people’s interactions were more varied than just looking at the piece, as some people held it in front of their face, rotating the video to a portrait orientation, so the image fill the screen; a face-to-face substitution; and held it by their bodies like contemporary Teletubbies. Everyone was respectful and it remained intact.
The Cancophony piece was essentially neglected and mostly forgotten about, both by me and the rest of the audience, though it did prove some novelty watching failed interactions.
All of the works seemed to be well received by the audience, which was of a fair size, and considering the deliberate absence of food being provided; a fair number of them stayed for the full length of the event, from the carrot-and-coriander soup start to the eye-watering Onion finish. Food was a recurring motif, alongside the use of orange, as food and meals can exemplify group activities, and community feasts have long accompanied festival gatherings and annual rituals – with most religious events there is an associated meal/food of some kind, or conversely fasting, as in the case of Ramadan and Lent.
Food and fasting becomes a focal point for reflection, both in a neo-Pagan sense of celebrating harvest, but also as a means of contemplating one’s own consumption within the community. Fasting can be a means of protest and instigating action. In this exhibition, we deprived the audience of their sense of entitlement to food and inclusion in the collective activity; with out backs facing outwards, we became a spectacle and a potential source of contempt. Overall, people’s participation in all the pieces seemed thorough, though documenting the audience’s engagement in the works was easier for some than others.
Filipa’s Performance: Onions
A focal point for the latter half of Part-I was Filipa’s Onions piece, in which she, and members of the audience would sit across from each other grating a pile of onions onto the tablecloth-dress worn by her and the table simultaneously. This provided an interesting dynamic with the audience, contrasting to my iPad piece, which involved a confrontation with the technology, where as the Filipa’s performance confronted the artist, in the spirit of Abramovic.
Similarly, Nicole and Elizabeth’s performances also involved facing the artist straight on as part of the participatory interaction. However, whereas our performances were only available for the length of the events, Filipa’s piece continued on in the absence of the artist and audience alike, as the smell from the decaying onions hung in the St George’s building for some time after. This may have slightly hindered some of the other works that required the audience to return.