It's OK to be Boring
2012, Performance/installation/residency, duration: two months.
Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, Camden Arts Centre & Shape Arts, London.
Inspired by a comment by Slavoj Zizek, that now we live in a permissive, hedonistic society the only reason to see a psychiatrist is to be boring, I wondered if contemporary art might serve the same purpose?
Working all week during Camden Arts Centre's opening hours, I opened my studio doors and practice to the curious, inviting people to enter my studio and engage in being boring. In this way, my activity blended with a programme of education workshops, and I also met and held numerous conversations with gallery staff and visitors. Nothing was off-limits, and I developed performance activities suitable to whoever came in the room.
Memorable conversations included those held with a nuclear physicist, an 89 year-old experimental filmmaker, a homeless man, an autistic boy and his family, a polar explorer, and the daughter of a lady who established 'The Pug Dog Club Bulletin'.
I also used the three month residency to make a number of new works ('The Bookworm', 'Iceberg Lounge') in response to the main exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, and its history as a former library. A file note produced to mark the residency features a text by Brian Catling.
Boning the Mirror (2012)
As my closing event at Camden fell on Halloween (Oct 31st, 2012) I transformed my studio into a haunted chapel, 'The Calvary Club', using objects and images that I had made during the residency to dress the space. This included a randomly generating audio-recording of Basil Rathbone reading 'The Raven', by Edgar Allan Poe, a cardboard tree with an owl peering from it's hollow, and a collection of paintings of ghostly pug dogs, hung in a cruciform shape. Guests were invited to attend in fancy dress, with a prize painting offered for the best outfit (awarded to two Miss Havershams in full bridal dress)
To launch the event I made a performance, 'Boning the Mirror' (images below) Wearing a skeleton mask crudely painted blue, a bright blue wig and a suit of rags, I sat on a large circular mirror illuminated by a single blue light. A collection of bones that I had mudlarked from the banks of the Thames were then taken from a bucket of soapy water and scrubbed, alluding to a performance by Marina Abramovic ('Cleaning the Mirror', Oxford, 1995) Each bone fragment was then placed on the mirror and sculpted into forms to suggest invented dinosaur anatomies. Soap dripped from the bones and was illuminated by blue light. Bones balanced on my hands, arms and head, were used to make crude comparisons with my own anatomy. A soundtrack of loud Death Metal was played throughout.