The exhibition announcement:
“Wandsworth Council’s Pump House Gallery presents We are having a little flirt, a group exhibition offering perspectives on the uncertainty of attraction and desire. Through playful interaction, the exhibition examines the theatre of small everyday exchanges whilst also considering the shifting politics of human interaction in a digital age. Works ranging from installation, video and performance test the boundaries of the artists’ relationships with friends, future and past lovers, and even their audiences.
Adam Christensen presents a textile work hung across a steel frame depicting a shirt designed by an ex-boyfriend. Its biographical content and delicate construction invite the viewer to bear witness to the fragile remnants of a break-up.
Drawing on her personal chat archive, Erica Scourti presents a responsive installation that invites the audience to encounter the anxiety and paranoia – but also the thrill and pleasure – of socializing and bonding online.
A ladder and a bucket filled with water forms Secretos, a sculptural installation by Monica Espinosa. The bucket contains a speaker playing recordings of the artists’ secrets, but, as the liquid absorbs and muffles the sound, the viewer must move closer to try and hear them. This playful proposition teases the audience, inviting them to test the limits of their curiosity.
Anneke Kampman presents a video work that can be viewed from the balcony above. The piece plays with the idea of the music video, focusing on the construction, audio-visual landscape and unwritten rules of these digitally produced worlds.
Together these works produce a set of connections that lead to new ways of seeing and experiencing what flirting is, and can be: flirtation as the potential of an exchange, a love encounter or a future attachment, which might or might not occur.”
We arrive a bit late but catch the last fifteen minutes of Erica Scourti’s performance work. The doors are open, people have gathered in the doorway while the performers, most of the time, most of them, move around the ground floor of the gallery. On occasion, though, they venture outside. Each has a script on a phone or small ipad. They sometimes chant, there seems to be a loop pedal at play too.
From what I catch of the performance I remain undecided: I think it is the choir thing that works less for me, while I am interested in the material. Or: am I distracted by figuring out the role of performance and audience. What is our role in this? I think as I watch my friend hiding behind the big external door as the performers venture to the outside. I like that spontaneous gesture of her and find myself in it too: either about not wanting to be involved in the flirting, the content, or of wanting to remain ambivalent, outside of a piece of work that I am not sure that it is working for me right now.
Two pieces stand out for me: Scourti’s Slip Tongue, installed throughout the four floors of the staircase, it seems triggered by movement: different voices, put through a text to voice vocoder (as my musician friend tells me, along with the teaser line: we can do this at home later on – oh, yes! please). Throughout the narrow staircase that connects the four floors, people would stop and listen, I think there are at least three speakers installed, which speak differently to any one passing by.
The other piece is Monica Espinosa’s Secretos: an installation which I first read as out of order, a ladder, an MP3 player, a black plastic bucket and a submerged speaker. Nothing moves, nothing is heard while I linger in the room. My friend has already gone on, further upstairs, and then I just catch the water surface rippling, suddenly, rhythmically. I catch the last second of it, then it is still again. I wonder:
- is there a constant audio fed through the speakers?
- is it looped? triggered?
- what are the secrets?
- what happens to all those who see it but never notice the ripples? – Does that then mean that there are no secrets told, that there is no audience, that the work isn’t performing?
I tell my friend, we go back and watch, and watch, and watch. At one point I seem to notice the slightest surface movement, but that is all. There are no more secrets bubbling up to the surface. Before we leave I go back three more times to check if I can catch a secret.
The transformation of secret to recording to water ripple is so effective. Perhaps they are not secrets at all?
I see that Espinosa also did a performance, Discrete Piece, a couple of weeks ago and left a book of the memories, which I didn’t see, and now wished I had.
— this possibly has been the first group show that sits squarely in some of the themes that interest me – around digital/analog, desire/anxiety around it as well as the looping, the making visible, the confessional of a performative form – and use a methodology not dissimilar to mine. It was really good to see it, also to catch the performance, and it is interesting to see which pieces caught my interest: the audio pieces, while the still objects and the written pieces were of less interest. Espinosa also showed a a very small scale, blown out video, was it called Copulation?, which showed lights going on and off on a view, from a beach, I guess, on to a series of palm trees at low light. — it is 2005 Copula (Coitus), video, 1 inch (2.54cm). I find very little of the video, and realise that I didn’t take an installation shot which I of course now regret. This link provides two installations shots, in the current show it sits in a very bright room and is shown as overexposed.