Wednesday, 14 January 2009

SPRINT Festival proposal

This is the proposal submitted to SPRINT, the Camden People's Theatre event June 2009

Harriet Poole: Live Participatory Photography:
The Darkroom (or name adapted to site)

Preferred space: Starting in the bar/foyer/populated area moving to a small private, light tight space, and then back to bar/foyer. Small, light tight closet/office/bathroom/shed type space or small space that can be made light tight and into a photographic darkroom. Ideally around 8 foot by 3 feet but can adapt to space given. Using an existing working room with side bench or shelf as found would be particularly ideal (moving some items if necessary to accommodate myself and participant) e.g. mops, buckets, screwdrivers, old equipment etc welcome in the space. If two small rooms could be found, there could be a performance installation of the photogram relics. If the space(s) were more ‘behind the scenes’ or away from black-box theatre, this would be ideal, I have responded to sites such as redundant factory/warehouses rich with history situating my work in amongst other performance events.

Duration of work: Durational, intimate performance for one at a time (approximately 10 minutes per encounter) There could, and ideally would, be multiple encounters happening simultaneously. Ideally happening on a busy night, people socialising, waiting for a show, or after a show. Could also work on a pre-booked basis with an usher entirely in a given room, I have worked in this way before. A visit would be good to determine this and make the piece entirely site-responsive, maybe drawing connections with my other work such as shed (see

The number of artists involved: One (myself) or more (performers only). If taking place during a busy event around the area with a ‘found’ audience, I work with a score allowing for individual and fluid happenings around that and have worked with more than one performer having their own one-to-ones.

Description of the work (provisional, pending site visit): In The Darkroom, people are approached in the bar/foyer and asked if they would like to go to the darkroom. Using a mobile phone camera, the image of the strangers together in the foyer/bar is taken by another person in the bar, and then the performer and participant move to the private room in red light. Stories are told in the private room through objects from their pockets, the objects as a trigger for finding and sharing a human connection: for example, from the ordinariness of a train ticket they could talk about the funeral that it enabled the person to attend. The last person that was phoned and shouldn’t have been. The objects are laid onto photographic paper and exposed and developed- they surface momentarily through a photogrammed memory of the object but are not then fixed. The closet idea is about referencing those tucked away spaces maybe under the stairs, amateur darkroom in the attic, child’s den, inventors quiet paradise to be able to sit and consider one’s thoughts, make new discoveries, or share secrets. The fleeting exchange of memories between two strangers is, as is the problem with photography, of the moment that has passed. This performance thus culminates in marking this fact through the death of the photographs created, the mobile phone image’s light kills the photogram and is deleted. This denotes the end of a period of togetherness as two strangers then leave one another and the performer and the participant return to the foyer/bar.

The Darkroom has been developed from (in)visible exchange, the above piece is based on my Duckie show and could, I would hope develop further with SPRINT; elements have always been quite different. My work explores theories in the work of Roland Barthes and Tino Sehgal, the first for his theories of the ‘mortality’ of the paper based photograph as an ‘impossible’ record of ‘now,’ and the latter for the fleeting materiality of his art works. I work with principles of non-matrixed theatre and audience participation through the subversion of time/lens based media practices. I experiment with pushing the temporal nature of performance through marrying with the temporal nature of photography, placing the process of image making intrinsically at the heart of an intimate performative experience.

Technical: Creating a staged light tight darkroom providing own equipment being small darkroom (box) tray, photographic developer, photographic paper, red safety lights, blackout.
Ability to lock door or shut it very firmly so light tight.
Depending on room set up as to whether would need a bench or a table and depending on the height of these- chairs or stools or standing- I can arrange these where necessary.
Access to water nearby and electrical sockets in the room or very nearby.
If possible I would like to view the room in advance of the event so I can plan for the right materials, and any slight adaptations to the performance if layout of room etc dictates.
Please note- I have a lot of experience in constructing make-shift darkrooms if the above sounds horrendously off putting- and I am able to do it myself. There is no Enlarger or other traditional darkroom equipment, processing troughs etc, but would put down suitable protective sheeting as applicable. Depending on how much black out was required would dictate how long I would need to set up; if time is short I could get assistance.

Should hear by end of February whether successful or not....

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