Learning Curves & Salty Coffee

Learning Curves & Salty Coffee

What was anticipated and what actually happens with art work which invites participation from an unknown audience can be very different things. This should have been obvious to me, and was maybe to everyone around me, but I found this out on the second day of #HiddenDoor and was surprised by the degree to which my work had been contributed to. I used the word ‘trashed’ at the time as this is how it felt but on reflection what did I expect?

What went on? With my initial installation I set up a piece of work ‘in progress’ to slowly and peacefully transform in the space in the main #lockerroom off the Blue Corridor. At a distance (around the corner in the corridor) I arranged a  set up to allow for expressive (!) and self-compelled participation using the same materials I was using in what I perceived to be a more controlled environment.

As an Artist you have to make decisions about how much to communicate to the viewer, I didn’t leave diagrams about what to do, or any DO NOT TOUCH labels and relied entirely on the visual and spatial set up to communicate ‘what to do?’

When we came in on Saturday, all the sheets I had set up to change over in the main installation and two sheets in the experimental area were covered with expressive #inky marks, mind bogglingly shocking to me coming into it cold and at the time I felt a roller coaster of emotions – embarrassment (I had brought my family and a friend to show my work and had felt so proud), anger (bloody hell who did this?), tears (as if there wasn’t enough salt water already aargh) eventually coming round to calmer more meditative thoughts of Wow! it worked way beyond my expectations (around about Sunday mind!).

The #HiddenDoor team were wonderfully helpful and supportive about my request to turn the space into a momentary #inkycrimescene and on Sunday I set up again slightly differently, and since then have had to remove any equipment which might encourage an interaction -which actually doesn’t feel right.

I am now reflecting on how I should have done it, and how participation was to be a strong part of my work but how I clearly have deep lying feelings of requiring ‘control’ over how the participation takes place. Tricky and ongoing!

#HiddenDoor 2015 is a brilliant brilliant show of #art #theatre #music and #culture, it shines brightly as an example of a way developing artists can be encouraged to experiment and respond to the rare opportunity of being given space to be brave. I have loved being part of it and fully support David Martin and his teams approach – its tough, reliant on volunteers and people giving up the precious commodity of their own ‘time’ but so worth it for the magical outcome. And yes, magical is the right word.

PS Oh god yes! I have only heartfelt apologies to the two volunteers who used my pre-made salt water to make their morning coffee in the volunteer room, I owe you a latte! Thank goodness you didn’t get near the inky mix bottle.