Wednesday, 18 February 2009

developing the mischievous, reclusive world of den.....

developing den for Not a F******* art show @ the electricity shop, trinity buoy wharf, 4th march 2009

the brief for this show, curated by an ex-student of mine, lora hristova who is currently in her third year fine art degree at central st martin's (and another who designed the website, sinem erkas, designer and D&AD new blood winner 2008) is thus;

"To coincide with International Women’s Day on the 8th March a group of sixteen artists will be exhibiting a diverse collection of work that focuses on the "fairer sex" without using the "f" word. A wide range of media from painting, sculpture, video and photography will ensure an exciting and eclectic mixture of work.

This exhibition aims to offer a platform for discussion for a variety of questions such as: How are contemporary artists portraying women in a post-feminist society? Can work themed around the female avoid being pigeon-holed as feminist? How is work viewed when gathered under the category of one gender? How do young female artists feel about feminism? What will male artists do when asked to contribute to a female exhibition? Is feminism still a dirty word?"

lora asked me to do this in response to seeing my MA show, shed in which i shared nostalgic connections to feminine objects. my initial thoughts were going back to undeveloped MA ideas about dens, and for thus having a darkroom den in the corner of the electricity shop into which objects and stories were brought and shared;

the portable den was originally going to be a portable NOVA darkroom structure, with some kind of nostalgic facade.cost was not what was first thought(!) this, coupled with the timescale for putting up the show is only a day for me,i started to play with ideas around the most basic, makeshift and highly portable kind of dens ( like a kid dragging easy-to-move things into the lounge) bedsheets, curtains, ironing boards, clothes driers, etc and away from other kinds using sofas and armchairs (this is also rather good for me to be able to carry there being a non-driver)

simple knotting together to join multiple sheets

bed sheets and lounge furniture

am thinking along the lines of den as a site of childhood, mischief, refuge, secrecy, hiding place, taking shed ideas but definitely positioning ourselves as adults going back to childhood, (and now considering how will this change my work.) this wiki talks about dens, and this article, The Nesting Instinct, discusses issues surrounding them. dens are a great things from my childhood, i used to like putting a tent up inside and hiding in there, as well as using sofas and having pretend tea parties, lining up and registering my teddies, and puppet shows behind and between upturned and sheet covered 3 year old nephew recently came to play in my flat, and we spent a lot of time in the duvet den in bed looking for dragons- he initiated. he lives in dublin and the following week i went to stay with him, and found we were now searching for bears :)

i like the idea of playing on exposure, in that the image is exposed, and the temporality of the den structure, that at any time, it could be pulled down and expose the inhabitants....

potential ideas, to scratch with participants in my lounge next wednesday;
  • in the den, asking the participant to write a birthday/greeting/blank card from a shoe box in the den, to a female you once knew,discussing its story between the female and the participant, photogramming it, tearing off the card front and replacing with the photogram, leaving its trace as a photogram card on a sideboard outside. possible shredding??
  • in the den, asking the participant to get an object from the sideboard outside, bringing it in and discussing it, putting the object in a box, and leaving its trace in a frame on the sideboard (objects on the sideboard are nostalgic feminine nan type objects including sweets in a side dish.) [Note: this is implying the den is potentially at nan's house, does this matter? how much am i implying i am metaphorically transporting/ 'removing' the viewer from the Electricity shop space external to the den as well as internally, this is an odd question for me as my work has become much more entirely site-responsive and this piece is very much not so above the notion of creating 'a den site.' I like the idea here of objects you know you shouldn't have (e.g. ornamental/grown up objects going in to the den, to be come our toys we then give our own identity to)]
  • in the den, asking the participant to get an object from the sideboard outside, bringing it in and discussing it, putting the object in a box, and leaving its trace in a frame on the sideboard (objects on the sideboard are child birthday party type objects including cakes, biscuits, sweets in dishes...or is this too off brief?? or go with gender stereotyping of foods- pink cakes etc, am i interested in that though? i like this as the consumption of food parallels the consumption of the image though, and if not used here i definitely want to return to this) [Note: this is implying the den is in a family living room]
How does the participant personally engage with each option, are some more engaging than others? How light tight do I really need given the image disappears? proximity- how small is the den? Do I really need a sideboard? How interactive/ collaborative/participatory is the piece, and think about levels of these, where are the elements of chance versus following score instructions? How to consider this piece in the private view- music and noise, the fabric walls of the den with ears listening in from outside, (privacy levels reduced, will this alter the nature of the discussion?) and the outside noise going into the den.....

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