An Evening of Action

by jennycoreblog

An Evening of Action

Friday 1st July 2011

South Square Centre



The collaborative project, An Evening of Action by Jenny Core and Rosanne Robertson, was brought to life at South Square Centre, Bradford. South Square is a visual arts resource centre providing a professional and supportive resource for artists and emerging curators. “As a test bed for new ideas”, South Square was the perfect setting for this experimental performance piece.

Project Description 

“A Happening is an assemblage of events performed or perceived in more than one time and place. Its material environments may be constructed, taken over directly from what is available or altered slightly; just as its activities may be invented or commonplace.” ‐ Allan Kaprow.

The history of performance art shows the use of everyday objects throughout bringing life, new logic and language to the readymade object. Artists such as Julia Childs transforms the use of kitchen utensils, Marina Abramovich in Rhythm 0, 1974, gives audience members the power to confirm or disregard the actions associated with objects such as scissors, a knife, a whip, and, most notoriously, a gun and a single bullet. In contemporary art the everyday object is still very much present but is perhaps familiar in new ways. The line between what is everyday and what is an art object is blurred artists such as Fischli and Weiss carefully sculpt crumpled paint tubes and Edgar Schmidt works with materiality of ‘exhibition apparatus’.

Under the term ‘relational aesthetics’ Bourriaud explains artists as facilitators rather than maker’s and artist as giving audiences access to power and the means to change the world. Boris Groys explains it is OK for the artist to act as curator but not for the curator to create the art.

A light switch, a cactus, a piece of blue tac, kitchen utensils, sheep, a tin of yellow paint, a knife.

With this in mind we aim to follow our shared interest in the point of creation and the importance of whom physically provokes it. By shifting the balance and subverting the usual mode of production we will experiment with producing art within an exhibition environment. By staging collections of objects that would viably exist in the art space environment we aim to facilitate moments of creation and to look at the point of releasing control over an idea.

The Evening in Action

The collection of culturally familiar objects where placed within the non art spaces of the gallery mainly in the outdoor area spreading into the Community Room and bar area. Seven local actors of different age groups were appointed as ‘audience members’ and engaged with the familiar and viably situated objects throughout South Square. It was hard to distinguish between the actor and the viewer as they mimicked and examined behaviours of the attendees whilst modestly interacting with our props. We did not know how the actors would interpret the collections of objects but we predicted that it will create a sense out of nonsense; a language and a logic that did not previously exist, which would have caused the non‐acting audience members to join in. The only rule given to the actors was the idea of ‘subtlety ’. Even though a structure was created for the evening, there was no control over the outcome, mirroring the lack of control on how the audience view art.

The idea of creating an event with no control of its outcome was a daunting yet exciting experience! With objects in place, the performers moved through the crowds of spectators becoming almost indistinguishable. Our objects were collected, moved, sculpted, manipulated, contorted, cherished and destroyed. Strong creative acts took place, appropriating objects, completing objects purpose and creating new purposes. At the start of the evening of these creative acts, the audience were oblivious to our objects and our performers. An awareness flourished throughout the evening, as some audience members followed those who they believed to be actors, with anticipation. Additional spectators viewed the manipulated objects alongside the art in the space, as if it the item was created for the exhibit / an existing ‘product’ in the exhibit. Others believed the objects to be discarded and wanted to bin them, others acted upon this. The interaction with the objects made them a part of the performance as they have acknowledged, conversed and acted upon a notion they have associated with the object.

Bringing the art/art making to the viewer instead of the viewer going to the art worked very well with the secretive nature of the performance. This was an art, which could be easily overlooked and requires patience and intuition to experience in its entirety.  The project brief did contradict the accessibility of this project, as you still had to search for the art, creating an individual experience for the viewer if experienced at all. You could say this mirrors views on accessibility in relation to globalisation. People, things and objects are so accessible, we can allow ourselves to engage or be dismissive, what we are doing is creating a choice; creating options.

Having posed as documenters for the exhibition, not artists, (as we did not want the ‘illusion’ of the evening to be ruined), we spent the evening taking photographs and filming, with the excuse being: ‘we are gathering documentation for stakeholders and publicity for South Square’. However, even though our performers created some fantastic work subtly within the space, the audience were very aware of our presence. If we were not creating an ‘awareness of being watched’, then may be the audience would have responded different with these objects somewhat ‘alchemic’ changes and movement across the Centre.  Towards the end of the performance, we walked round the Centre filming the objects and actors on a phone (pretending to be taking a call), the audience did appear more relaxed. May be the performers subtlety should have been mirrored to the creators of the performance. Our subtlety could have manifested into an other experience…


Film Documentation

(Film footage using phone)

An Evening of Action from Jenny Core on Vimeo.

More images: flickr photostream