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Liverpool/Sheffield, United Kingdom

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

London in a weekend

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to visit some incredible exhibitions in London. Out of the overwhelming amount of art I saw there were a few pieces in particular that had a lasting impression.

Moved by the South Bank Centre-

The Hayward gallery at the south Bank centre is currently holding an exhibition that celebrates choreography and performance art.

"The main focus of the exhibition is on visual artists, dancers and choreographers who create sculptures and installations that directly affect the movements of exhibition goers, turning spectators in to active participants."(Exhibition guide)

The exhibition is a brilliant way of getting involved in and therefore understanding a bit more about performance as an artistic medium and I would recommend the exhibition to anyone who is interested in working with performance art and installation art.

The first piece we encountered was 'Green light corridor' by Bruce Nauman. As the title suggests the piece involves a very narrow walkway saturated with fluorescent green light. When I first looked at the piece I imagined it impossible to walk through the corridor. However as I entered the narrow corridor I realised that getting from one end to the other was a possible but unpleasant experience. The glare of the light the height of the walls and the narrowness of the space induced a huge amount of unease and claustrophobia. I reached roughly half way and noticed that a child was attempting to walked towards me from the wrong end of piece (even though a sign clearly stated NO ENTRY!) I felt an instant sense of anxiety and was convinced I was going to get trapped! 

For the visitor about to enter his corridor work, Nauman has this to say; "You're now a participant in the work. You're very aware as you walk up or down that your body has to make an adjustment at each step. and so you have to figure when you can change your weight and where your foot is going to be placed and how high you step or how far down you step. and nothing is so great that you have to struggle with it, but everything is a little bit of an adjustment so your kept a little off balance all the time, adjusting you're self"

The piece has a very direct connection with my ongoing installation/film project and since participating in the piece I have been thinking about how I would change it to make the experience even more intense.
  • I would change the color to a deep red or something equally oppressive.    
  • I would have walls moving in or appear to be moving in to create various states of anxiety. 
  • I would make walkway longeror curve the walk way slightly so that the end of it can't be seen therefore emphasizing the feeling of claustrophobia.  

Tania Bruguera's installation piece consists of a blacked out room with halogen lamps lined up in a grid on the far wall. On entering the the room you are hit by blindingly bright light and unsettling sounds such as the reloading of gun and whispering aggressive voices. This disorientating experience is followed by total blackness and silence which is very unsettling. The piece has a direct effect on our movement and behavior, causing temporary disorientation and evoking the feeling of captivity, interrogation, torture and surveillance. 

Bruguera explains that her intention is "To address the subtlety of and seductiveness of power, and our own participation in the process." She also intends for the viewer to "experience politics as a sensation, experiencing fear, vulnerability and sensory deprivation before eventually achieving awareness." 

It was very interesting to experience a piece that evokes the same feeling to one that I am trying to achieve. Viewing the installation has given me the confidence to go ahead with my Idea and made me realise that with the correct equipment and space the piece has potential to be very successful.       

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