In October I was an artist in residence at ‘Elsewhere‘ in Greensboro, North Carolina, US.
Elsewhere is a living museum in a former thrift store on the main street of Greensboro. The artists and organisors of the museum live on site in the old three story house, and the premise of the residency is that you bring nothing in, and take nothing out, but constantly remake the museum with the stuff you find there. And there's a lot of it!
Elsewhere functions as a living community and so the daily life activities and us doing them in the museum are as much a a part of the organism of elsewhere as the quirky objects and spaces that house it. The kitchen was my favourite installation, that and the ghost room. It's open to the public about half the time, so you constantly have people walking through your living and making environments.
One of my favourite moments was swinging on the swings in the streetfront window when a passerby stopped, backed up, looked at me and said, "oh, I thought you were...
My consciousness comes into my body, laying here. It is not my body, right now I am someone else.
My eyes do not open yet. I’m in a single bed. It is quite firm. Many people have lain in this bed before me, their energy is stronger than my new presence in this space, it causes me to forget who I am even after I remember where I am.
The small room I inhabit is no more than 500mm bigger than the single bed in two directions, the other two surfaces are flush against sheer curtains and plywood partitions demarcating two other people’s sleeping spaces in this room. My travelling case fills the width of the floorspace and I step over it daily. Artists compete to take this place. They fill in application forms, undergo interviews and agree to pay fees in order to be offered it. Next to me the young intern acting as kitchen manager stirs in his sleep. Normally he is awake and up by now. He likes the mornings, few of the 12 residents are awake and he plays the banjo in the ghost room...
Two people walk through the exhibition space of the 31a bienal of São Paulo. One is reading aloud from a book, turning the pages rapidly and speaking fragmented sections of the text interspersed with words, sentences and ideas that are read from the surrounding works. Walking side by side, the other person writes down things that stand out, creating yet another generation of meaning, as they consider the words arbitrary relationship to the space and it’s contents. This piece was devised as an invisible performance, as we were no longer permitted to perform in the exhibition we built this performance to go unnoticed by security staff.
Below is the text that was developed as a result of the performance.
participative performance - a telepathic encounter
31a Bienal De Arte De São Paulo, Brazil.
Pavilion foyer, 6-7:30pm October 11th, 2014.
Perpendicular Bienal performance #3
Two artists sit opposite each other, lock in eye contact and form an unspoken connection. Periodically, when a thought solidifies in their minds, they write it down and turn it upside down, stacking the notes to create an unknown sequence of thoughts. Every 15 minutes they lay the note cards out to reveal the sequence, a sometimes fragmented and often uncannily synchronised conversation.
Pens and small note cards are placed in the space offering others to engage in the same kind of encounter. Many pairs partook in the action, and revealed the connection we can have with strangers when we consciously choose to engage, even in silence. One participant noted that we look beyond the eyes to see the person, and in that we see ourselves.
I have just participated in the ‘Perpendicular Bienal’ – a curated performance intervention on the São Paulo 31st Biennale. It was a 4 day event in the Bienal foundation in Ibirapuera Park, and included about 30 artists. The theme was ‘I am present’. We worked together to create a peaceful provocative presence on the biennial pavilion. It had free entry so attracted a diverse audience. The pieces ranged from individual to collaborative, some artists responded to the situation and space and others mounted pieces they had done elsewhere in the situation of the exhibition. By the third day the security staff was fed up with us entering and exiting the exhibition, and some artists had made actions that were not looked upon well – so even though the biennial curator welcomed us to the exhibit in person and encouraged our work, ultimately the security couldn’t deal with it, and we eventually got banned from the main exhibition space. On the thir...