We recently did our second Freak Show. As with the previous year, some of us, myself especially wanted to use it as place to test out some ideas. We wanted to create an atmosphere centered on the theme of a circus freak show, featuring a variety of art works and performances. We tried to create a confrontational environment to shock and disturb people and to further test out fine art practice in an unconventional and unpredictable environment.
I provided one of then main performances. In it I was the devil; one which I based on Peter Cook’s performance in the 1967 film Bedazzled. The idea was to welcome the audience as if they were attending a kind of business conference and do a ‘yes men’ style PowerPoint presentation which would be like a kind of sales pitch in which I would try and convince them to sign a contract giving me ownership of their soul. I wanted to make this performance a part of the Freak Show so as to present in a fun and entertaining manner the kind of clearly immoral way things are sold to people by men in suits while also dealing with the interesting notion of the soul as a commodity because even if the audience don’t believe in the soul, they may be remiss to give it away. I wanted to confront what I see as the commonplace agnosticism prevalent in British society.
I made a very short presentation, in it I tried to convince the audience that evil was a part of their everyday lives and that the soul was a pretense and that by giving it up, they would be able to live their lives and see the world with a new found perspective.
I convinced 13 people to sign away their souls. The rewarding part for me was how seriously so many people took the decision. One or two refused to sign on actual religious grounds, whereas a lot of people said although they don’t believe in ‘anything’ they didn’t want to risk giving away their soul. I think that was the best part for me; to create a scenario that challenged people to think seriously about their position on religion or the metaphysics of something like a soul.
As I said in my last post; I created these posters for our Freak Show event. I silk-screen printed 22 posters. I didn’t try very hard to line up all of the layers while printing and they’re all on cheap newsprint paper. I made them this way because I wanted them to look like they were cheaply produced on mass.
Jack and I put them up around all of the Fine Art studios to promote Freak Show. I had purposefully not included much information on them. I wanted to interest people with an attractive and mysterious poster and make them curious to ask around about them. In particular, I wanted to encourage the first years to start asking around and use the freak show as a way of introducing ourselves to them. It seemed to work to a certain extent, a lot of people who knew I was the one who printed them were just asking why I hadn’t put the date and address on them but it still meant I could have that conversation with them about freak show and what we were doing. I wasn’t aware before hand that the first years were having crits that week, so they didn’t really have much affect of them. Something that came up in conversations I had with people, which in hindsight is strange that it didn’t occur to me is the ethical questions surrounding the use of disturbing imagery and the use of the word freak.
I was asked by a few people if they could have one to keep which seems quite normal except for the fact that they’re my work and in the studios, students don’t normally ask other students outright if they can just have a piece of their work. I think because of the context in which I used them, people didn’t really think of them as my uni work or even as something of much intrinsic value; they are just prints after all and because I put them everywhere in the studios I was disowning them in a way or at least giving the impression that I didn’t mind what happened to them. Which for the majority of them I didn’t mind if they were damaged or stolen but there was one poster I had chosen to leave up after we’d taken back all the others to use at Freak Show. I had left behind one poster in the area of the studio where I work and it was stolen. I was a little annoyed but it made think a lot more about their worth and whether I should be annoyed at all.
We used the posters as a part of the decoration of the Freak Show and a few of them were stolen but it was especially confusing that someone chose to steal a poster which was pasted with glue to the column holding up the peak of the circus tent. There were plenty of posters that were just pinned to walls.
I think in general it was a successful little project. I wanted to generate some interesting discussions between people and making these posters seems to have done that.
It was also an experiment in making a piece of artwork in serves a purpose as a part of a larger work which was about bringing people together and building an environment and a group.
here is the file you can download…
CHECK YOUR NAMES ARE IN THE RIGHT GROUPS and start looking at the different things your groups needs to do and questions that need answering.
thanks a lot
I wanted to make a poster for the freak show because I knew I’d enjoy doing it. The design is based on old Art Noveau posters, although the colouration is taken from circus posters. I incorporated imagery from last year’s Freak Show such as the image of Fred as the Birdman, Flic the bearded lady and the circus tent we made. I drew the other characters from an amalgamation of imagery I sourced from the internet, creating illustration of ideas we’ve talked about for characters we’ll have at the coming Freak Show. The character with the guitar, is a combination of a few ideas that people are developing. I drew the image from a photograph of Robert Johnson whose supposedly sold his Soul to the Devil, it’s also an obvious reference to death. Death, the Soul and the Devil are all themes we intend to make apart of the Freak Show.
I intend to silk screen print the posters and use them for promotion as well as hopefully selling a few to raise money for the Fine Art Degree Show.
hi guys I have an idea for a monthly piece I would like to set up…
Friday Food Thought Exchange- lunch and good conversation!
On maybe the last Friday of each month in small space, most likely a white cube space in the Fine art studios we can invite fellow students on our course to sit down and share both food and talk about a particular topic…
the food will be our usual simple but tasty home made stuff like bread and sauces and pasta, rice, pizza ect… Each month there will be a different topic of conversation that I or one of you or someone else wants to discuss.
The first being about ‘audience’ and what as artist we want from our audience, what relationship we are trying to make, everyone talking specifically about there own practices, own ideas and then more widely about the role or experience of the audience in contemporary art. I’ll lead this one but everyone be involved like the ‘Shop’ talk and then next one maybe one you lead it more… we could talk about anything that we want other input for.
I think we could make friendly, relaxed, open and generous atmosphere, speak, listen and get to know people.
I already got some cushions and some bowls and big pans for cooking, plus gonna use cctv and mic to record it.
for those of use interested in relational art and discursive work this piece will really allow us to actively engage with what it means to make a such work and as a way of personally experiencing a piece like that of Rirkrit Tiravanija pictured bellow. To find out what it means, what happens and to try to ascertain the value of creating such things
anyone wanna help or even just come along?
ash, ill need help or advice on cctv stuff?
I was thinking pasta, bread, wine and few types of sauces… ellie sorry about all the wheat- just make cheap and filling lunch plus I already have a big bag of pasta… I will pay for it all this time if anyone like the idea next time they can chip in too.
what you think?
any ideas for topics for other months?
Experiment duration: 1 year
I have been trying to commit to this experiment over the last month, my first attempt last only 36 hours… and I thought about TV most of that time… I love watching TV, films, DVDs, hour after hour, series after series, night after night… but it no longer makes my life more full, its just a passive way to entertain my brain instead of getting of with my dissertation and all the other thing could be doing with my time. Tv is a perfectly good way to entertain yourself, beyond just surviving, life is just entertaining your brain… but this body of work is about trying new ways to see if different input and more output will lead to me being more productive in finding/creating happiness and fufillment. Plus I have watched every decent series available on 4OD & iplayer!
DURING TERM TIME
No watching TV- Including iplayer, 4OD, other internet sites and DVD’s
No watching films alone
Only alone watching- art and artist videos and other research material.
With more time freed up and no easy distraction or source of pleasure I will find it more tempting to endeavour with all the books I have. Books I have brought over the last few years with the deep desire and intention of becoming more knowledgeable on those topics. It will also focus my attention on my own output and allow me more time to develop skills… whatever they may be. I am more likely to stumble the internet but this normally leads to interesting thing and new sources of knowledge so that will be good, plus I get bored of this after an hour or so.
Most importantly I hope it will mean that I sleep at night and can get up in the mornings and don’t feel so tired, having not stayed up till 4am watching 5 episodes of some random program.
so here goes… it begins 2hours 24 minutes without TV (but with everything else) and counting…
anyone else have a bad relationship with TV?
is the title of a new body of work/experiments.
The inspiration for the title and theme of this work comes from a conversation with artist Martin Creed during a talk/performance he gave at the AUCB early this year. Its was very engaging and funny but also quite annoying because Creed is very illusive with his answers and it was hard to tell whether the persona he enacted in front of us was at all genuine… rubbing his head a lot, pacing back and fore in silence and struggling for answers and coming across like he thinks he is a failure… having seen other interviews of his on TV, I think Creed is very clever performer that relies on an audience or interviewer doing a lot of work ascertain worth and meaning from his seemingly straightforward and profound answers which can seem at odds with the work he has made.
Anyway doesn’t really matter what I think of him and his work, it was one answer he gave to why he made art that sparked my work now… it went along the lines of ‘everything I do is an experiment to make my life better’ which is a very logical reason to do things, I think most things people do is for this purpose although this aim is not always at the forfront of peoples thoughts and people aren’t logical.
For Creed that answer maybe sincere but what he actually make is always pieces of fine art… I like much of his work and simplicity of many of his proccesses of creating but how do you come up with putting blue tack on a wall if that was your aim and most his pieces don’t seem they would change someones life for the better… I guess an artists need to make things is fulfiled by making things which makes life better… and some of the cathartic and methodic nature of his work perhaps allows him to use his personal traits productivly… whatever it is for him… I am not gonna focus on the production of art objects and these experiments don’t have much relation to art… they will merely be my attemps to make life better… prodominatly my life.
any suggestions are welcome!
over the past few days the shop has become a festering hive of activity. yesturday i finally finished cladding the main shelf and we put up brown paper along one wall, i think this will change our decisions about the space as whole. we are going for a ripped and almost tatty look, to suit the rest of the shop.
martin has been enjoying exhibiting himself in the window as a break from his gluing duties
ellie has been making the signage which will get ‘Shop’ noticed and bring in the customers
ash’s updates to the website make it work much better, gives us the professional air we enjoy having
fred spilling his guts ORGANising everything
me and pat have been making the space
things are going well and i can see a great piece finally insight now!
wednesday i started putting together what i had originally planed for the central shelf and thursday i started cladding it. this was tricky and fiddly and was not satisfying, and was not creating anything which anyone would have been happy with. then after a coffee break me and pat came across some giant sturdy pallets which we put together, and are soo much better for the central shelves, much sturdier, pleasing structure, clean, easier to clad! the question with these ones is whether it is best to clad the whole thing, or leave some structure exposed, to highlight the point of it being found materials, and show the nice lattice of shoddy wood, i’d appreciate others to express opinions when they see them, in order that i can duly ignore them i have built a custom checkout counter, which is a good height and size, which would have been harder to by modding a table.
we then got given some boxes by the sweet shop next door which patrick is putting together into the pick and mix stand, we then noticed that they contained pick and mix sweets, and smelt of sweeties (and not shit like some other cardboard, which is a good size but we might not use due to it smelling up the place). also today i shall convert a box for a fridge into the chiller unit.
so its going well, im just leaving to head down to the shop now and will update you on the progress soon