End of the First Week
Yet again, the past two days have been extremely busy and filled with artistic experiences. Yesterday began with a coffee in Starbucks, meeting up with artist William Titley for his Pop-up photo exhibition in Lancaster City Centre, which I have been involved with organising. Also involved were the event co-producers, DART, as well as LEAP and Live at LICA. Titley's work is all about social connections, bringing people together and creating discussions. His pictures document his visits to two different cities in the Punjab region, Lahore, the old capital, and Chandigarh, a new modernistic city, one on either side of the Radcliffe Line dividing modern day Pakistan and India. Despite the different architecture and superficial appearance of each city, the people within stem from the same culture. Titley aims to blur this divide by alternately displaying his photographs. If you've never been there yourself, it took a practiced eye to tell the two cities apart.
In preparation for sticking up the 200 photographs on the wall opposite Starbucks, we first had a communal blu-tack rolling session. At first this didn't hold the pictures to the rough stone very well, but some quick experimentation found that the best solution was to just use the pointy bits on the wall. This roughness made a rippling effect across the pictures, which I felt emphasized the work's connection with its environment, and the uniqueness of the chance encounters it created. No sooner than the wall was filled, they were all taken down again and we moved to an empty shop in St. Nicholas Arcades. This new environment gave a completely different feel to the exhibition as we adapted to the new location, much as I imagine the people of the Punjab region had to adapt during the Separation. People were encouraged to get involved and put up a few pictures themselves. At 3pm there was a Q&A session with the artist, providing the opportunity to gain more insight about the work and its context.
In both locations, people were drawn in by this event, resulting in many interesting discussions with people from all different backgrounds, some of whom had first-hand experience of the region. Throughout the day I felt that this kind of event is what art is really about, not only exploring issues, but more importantly, bringing people together to discuss them. Issues are all well and good, but nothing may be done about them without discussion and human interaction.
Look out for this pop-up exhibition and a chance to get involved on campus on the 9th and 10th of May!
Today began rather earlier than usual at 4am with Chris Watson's Dawn Chorus performance. I arrived at the LICA building in the pre-dawn twilight to find the foyer filled with bean bags and places to relax. The performance was timed to coincide with the natural performance given by the birds in the woods just outside. As Watson took us for a guided tour of the woods near the end of the performance, I felt a sense of continuity as I left the recorded chorus and entered the live performance. The whole experience instilled a sense of calm, stillness and connection with the natural world. Similar to the Soundwalk I went on earlier this week, this performance taught me to appreciate the natural hidden beauty of sounds often taken for granted. Despite the early hour, this was a gentle, relaxing start to the day.
Later on, I visited the Fevered Sleep installation in the Nuffield theatre, appropriately named "Stilled". This performance art and exhibition is inspired by the nature of photography and X-Ray crystallography, and how they allow us to visualise hidden things. The combination of live performance and the exhibition of pinhole camera photographs taken during this made for a unique experience, with a continuous developmental process as new images were recorded and then displayed. The actor installing and operating the pinhole cameras reminded me of a scientist conducting an experiment, reviewing the recorded images and taking notes. Just as X-Rays allow us to peer into the hidden depths of crystals, so did the pinhole cameras reveal the traces of the dancer's movements. The basic issues of light and dark also evoked a primordial sense of fundamental exploration, similar to the scientific quest for knowledge.
I am looking forward to seeing what next week's events will bring!