” hONEY I’M HOME !! ” AT SAFEHOUSE 1, 139 COPELAND ROAD, PECKHAM
Our show was built up around the site rather than the other way around. Once we had found a location big enough for all of us, we decided the best way to find a focus for our show was to find common grounds in our work and make this fit in with the context of the house. Because we were in a large group of 13 people, and we all work in very different ways and with very different interests/subject matters, it didn’t make sense for us to make work to fit in with a theme, but rather allow a theme to emerge from the culmination of our work.
Because of this, the curation of the show as well as the branding/marketing was very important. We decided to split up into two “teams”: the marketing team in charge of press release/posters/social media etc and the curatorial team who were obviously in charge of curation and well as practical things such as what we would need for the installation of the show/ the private view.
As part of the curatorial team, we discussed how each persons work could relate to the house and the idea of the domestic. Rather than thinking purely about whose work went with whose in terms of form and concept, we thought more about the relationship to the house. For example, what would go in the entryway, the living room, the bedroom etc and why. My work was concerned with where the house fit into the context of the city, so was partly by the door and partly inside the house, suggesting a coming in from outside. Anna’s piece “Duvet” was in the front bedroom and Mae’s piece consisting of three chairs was arranged around the window and fireplace of the living room, suggesting an absent presence which tied into Eliose’s work behind it.
For some works we had to think more practically: where are the plug sockets? What’s the light like in that area? How can things be attached to the ceiling or floor?
I do think we worked well in the house, allowing a narrative to come through and not being afraid that our personal meanings for a work would be swallowed by the connotations of the house. Despite all being very different, the house brought our artworks together cohesively, with touches such as original fireplaces, light switches and tiles keeping the house grounded in it’s history, rather than becoming a superficial space used only for exhibiting artwork.
I went on to analyse my own “instructions” of the walk, instinctively drawing as I read the directions. Each time the line came out different which brings into question the actual usefulness of supposedly strict, objective rules etc.
Are any of these an accurate representation of my route? Here I have created multiple systems out of one set of instructions. If I gave the left/right commands (without the road names) to a group of individuals, how many would end up in the same place? I am interested in this idea of multiple outcomes arising from something that should be very rigidly set. For me, it creates a kind of fantasy amongst the systems of the huge city. Never tied down.
I wanted to take this focus on the instructions further, so tried to memorise the route. I timed how long this took, again creating an alternative reality to the actual walk (e.g 2h 14m 01s 95 cs becomes 29m 38s 13cs). I’m not exactly sure where this strand of “breakdown” is going but at the moment I am finding it exciting. It’s no longer really anything to do with actual walking or even the city but rather my own obsessive systems. Perhaps this could be a way of creating other walks using the safehouse walk.
I like this way of presenting my memorisation. In a book it would become too obviously like a school exercise (like learning spellings or something). On the wall it becomes more painterly, however, still reads from top left to bottom right, ending with a single sheet which is the one that proved I had memorised it (I wanted to get at last two in a row right, to prove it was actually in there and not just a one off).
I am considering turning this into some kind of film.
Once in the exhibition space, I set up two pieces of paper on opposite walls and walked backwards and forwards between them for the same amount of time as the original walk (2h 14m 01s 95cs). In doing this, I had essentially brought the entirety of the 7.3 miles route into the just under 5m wide room.
I deliberately chose to place my work so that the first sheet was near the entrance and the other fully inside the room, to be representative of the fact that this work has moved from outside the house to within.
The act of walking backwards and forwards as well as the tally marks themselves are very significant here. Pacing suggests a restlessness and feeling of containment, this plays off of the context of the safehouse in a very dark way, although also suggests prisoners counting days or children drawing on walls with brightly coloured crayons. There is a franticness that juxtaposes the system in which it is contained (contained both physically and within my decided process).
Something I struggled with with this piece was how to show my process to the viewer without giving away too much. I know that London is contained between the papers, but how will anyone else? The tallies on their own can be seen as a kind of minimalist painting – an abstract, meaningless painting.
Honestly, I don’t mind this as a reading of my work, however, I was keen to explore how I can reveal more of my ideas, especially when the work was up in the safehouse. I considered creating lines using dust or paint or something so my journey would be visible, but this felt like too much. I also thought about displaying my entire “report” alongside the piece, or showing the full video of the walk, however, this would feel very disjointed like a piece and an explanation for a piece, rather than one coherent thing. In the end I put up the instructions for my walk (road names, turnings etc) next to one of the papers. The format mirrored both the scroll and a kind of road which alludes to the journey taken without explaining exactly what each tally represents. I was careful to place the two scrolls exactly opposite each other to reinforce a relationship between the two. I don’t think I was completely successful and the work definitely required some kind of an explanation so as not to be seen as just an abstract piece. This is something I want to really focus on going forward.
For my off-site show I wanted the work to be an exploration of the chosen site and how this fits into the context of the city. I approached this by walking from my flat in Holloway to the exhibition space in Peckham (a total of 7.3 miles taking 2 hours 14 minutes 1 seconds and 95 centiseconds). From this I aimed to create a series of works in which I explored this journey – and ways of representing this journey – in as much detail as possible.
After a tutorial with Sarah, I realised that my recent work has been as much about time as it has about space/place so I used this as a starting point for my “analysis”. The notion of combining objective, scientific factors such as time and distance with the subjective, emotional nature of an individual journey is interesting to me.
Here, each tally mark represents one second of the walk. I filmed myself doing this to compare the difference between how long something takes and how long it takes to represent (i.e, the walk was 8041 seconds, would it take 8041 seconds to represent this 8041 seconds?). However, my camera kept cutting out without me noticing it so the resultant footage is not at all representative of the act. This in itself produces something quite interesting as an inaccurate record of one act could be seen as in itself creating a new act: what walk is this video representing? This kind of mirrors my ideas from the beginning of the year about the power an artist has to say what they like about their own work and play with facts vs fictions.
I also find it interesting how what, for me, was a big task (walking across London) appears very unimpressive when presented like this. There isn’t as many pages / tallies as you would expect. A challenge I have had throughout the year is how to materialise/ display something immaterial in a way that doesn’t give too much away while still doing justice to the ideas behind the piece. The anti climactic effect of this piece kind of satisfies me in the sense that even if an idea/action is completely accurately represented, it can still appear inaccurate or unimpressive. For me, this gives the license to care a bit less.