I decided to make a lot of the work for Shredding Paper on site at PAD, exposing the making to the visiting public [Visiting public being a mixture of artists, crafts specialists, gallery owner/manager and the general public] in order to expose that process which is specific to each artist but also something incredibly personal for each artist, in order to generate dialogue/questions/feelings between artist and viewer and maybe contributing towards the idea that art can be something other than a object/thing/something [sorry for the very broad/not very good terms here!] but a process, that can be seen, shared and experienced. A two way process.
I decided to advertise that I would be there at specific times on specific days for a week and these were the times that people could come and see the making/performances etc. Because I had advertised the times with a couple of hours between them e.g. 10 - 2, I found that I could really just concentrate on making as I didn't know when people would turn up, if they would catch me in the middle of talking to someone else, which is fine but what if they had come expecting a 'performance', to see something happening rather than me just sat there having a cup of tea? I didn't know if they would have any prior knowledge as to what was going on. With the benefit of reflection and looking back these questions don't seem so bad now, so what if they caught me having a cup of tea thinking or not in the middle of some intimate exploration? That is part of what I wanted to explore and expose. This did happen, alot actually! People coming in when I was just sat there staring into space, thinking, jotting notes or eating a biscuit! and I enjoyed it but at the time a part of me was thinking that some people would want to see some sort of performance and would be disappointed if they didn't. What I found really interesting [and slightly funny] was when I was doing small performances people didn't know whether to just 'watch' or to come over and talk to me as there was no obvious viewer/audience situation. I really liked the uncertainty of the viewer at times. There was a chance for people to come and see that performative making, more performance, me lost in the making but not as many people saw this. Next time I think I need to put on specific times for the performative/intimate making i.e 10-10.30am, make more of an event of it. But I feel this would require a little of knowing what I was going to do.
Those moments of just making and exploring where really interesting. In the first few days there, as I didn't really know the space that well, I felt almost awkward within myself, moving around, bumping into skirting boards and knocking over work I'd just made. Visitors also kicked floor pieces over [by accident I hope!] but I found myself not minding at all, pieces not quite as I initially intended, as they were quite hard to see, I liked the suprise of the viewer.
The resulting exhibition that was up for three weeks afterwards felt to me and looked incredibly polished. I wanted it to feel more like BUILT, like someone had just been there, the presence of the artist still to be felt, inviting the viewer to want to touch etc but it didn't, not to me any way. I think it must have been something to do with the space itself, the clean white walled space. The space at Rogue Studios for BUILT was nothing such, half of it looked a bit worse for ware. I don't think it was from a material aspect, the materials I used were same as the ones used in BUILT, with the addition large rolls of paper, some text pieces and a video piece. I feel that wanting to foreground process got lost in the final exhibition, apart from the video pieces playing showing aspects of me working. On the other hand, the size of the space and the time I had allowed for mistakes, risks that I felt free to take. Not a overly interesting space but one which I was able to find idiosyncrasies from and work with and the definite structure of the space, the lines I could trace with material and my own body and the reaction between the two - the space was big enough for that. I feel next time I would benefit from more site visits. A chance to understand what me being in the space would do to the space - if that makes sense.
Maybe that is one of the reasons I have applied for the AA2A residency at Salford: it will give ,me a chance to explore spaces outside of the 'gallery space' somewhere my work can fall over and be ok.
Even though I don't see what I do as 'rehearsal' I though this quote from a review on a Francis Alys exhibition from a old magazine I was reading whilst in the space at PAD was quite poignant,
'Rehearsal, after all is not a passive waiting but an active practice of keeping alive the wish for something better'