Friday, 18 July 2014

BENEATH THE PAVEMENT - The Lead Artist's View - EMILY SPEED


 Emily Speed

Airspace blog

After some time has passed following the two very intensive days of ‘Between the Pavement’, four experiences stick very firmly in my mind. The first is the courthouse visit. I loved this space so much and it triggered all kinds of idea about theatre: the theatre of public office and of rituals and traditions. We need a performance as confirmation of something being true or official.



That wooden furniture!

It's a melancholy space too as you know that it is no longer truly necessary and it’s style gives away the fact that is belongs firmly in another era. I knew immediately that this was the seed of an idea for me, above all other things we saw over the two days in Stoke-on-Trent.

The second was the silent walk in the full group. It was fascinating how everyone spread out to quite a standard distance apart, mainly in order to avoid catching anyone's eye (a sure trigger for conversation). To absorb all those things that you feel compelled to share is tricky, but it has the effect of heightening your experience and observations and also acts as a filter; only those things that stick are the ones you end up sharing with others. I like how this allows the experience to become not only about the buildings, streets and signage, but about how people are in the space. At one point we stopped in a large square and it was fascinating that just the act of people standing apart and silent and looking all around was uncanny enough to draw attention. 





I also found great value in the artists’ and curator’s talks. Jennie Syson in particular gave a very thoughtful and fascinating talk about her work on Hinterland, a project she created from 2006-2010.

http://jenniesyson.com/hinterland/

The last and most important thing was the other participants. I had a group who got quite deep into the thinking around how to work in the public realm and we ended up using most of the time for discussion.




I had initially planned to be active! to make things! However, it actually felt a bit forced or rushed and although this might have been frustrating for those who wanted to see products, I really believe that this kind of art-making is a long(ish)-term exercise. I was especially struck by the several artists who mirrored my own feelings about being in this situation; a blank response (possibly seen as a kind of failure) and feelings of being overwhelmed, or dare I say oppressed, by the amount of visual and aural information we ingested.



  

But I liked (and admired) that other people did make something within the two days and that mix of approaches was a really useful and exciting thing to be around. I look forward eagerly to seeing the responses in September, but in the meantime, I am still thinking about those benches…




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