'Late at Tate (I am not him and I do not have your pen)', 2011

-Evening of events and interventions around Tate St Ives

 

I was invited to devise a solo Late at Tate event for Tate St Ives in response to their Summer exhibition entitled 'Martin Creed, Fischli & Weiss, Naum Gabo, Lucio Fontana, Anri Sala, Margaret Mellis, Agnes Martin, Roman Ondak'. Tate St Ives described this sequence of one-room displays as one that 'responds directly and playfully to the unique architecture and location of the galleries at Tate St Ives, drawing the building itself and visitors into the experience.' With this in mind I devised a series of more ephemeral gestures that aimed to operate in a similar way, albeit introducing a sense of uncertainty, miscomprehension and a potential for failure. I also played off the instances of repetition, sequence and simple use of materials in the show to inform my approach.

 

I came up with a series of gestures, all entirely new works, dispersed around the building and occuring at various points throughout the evening...

 

(Above: Tate St Ives Visitor Assistant enacts 'The Smell of Knowing' near works by Margaret Mellis. Photo by Miguel Amado.)

'The Smell of Knowing', 'The Smell of Obsession', 'The Smell of Attitude', 2011

Bottles of commercial fragrance.

 

I placed three different off-the-shelf scents around the galleries. Each twenty minutes the gallery invigilators were asked to pick up the bottle and spray it five times into the air then return it to its spot. Initually overwhelming, the smells quickly dispersed as visitors moved throughout the space..

 

Estee Lauder 'Knowing' was placed in a room of Margaret Mellis' work; Calvin klein 'Obsession' in the Naum Gabo room and Armani 'Attitude' in the room for Roman Ondak's 'Measuring The Universe' piece. Each scent was chosen for it's name and shape, the absurdly literal and physical relationship to the artist's work they sat amongst, and indeed the themes of the show as a whole.

(Above: 'The Smell of Knowing' amongst works by Margaret Mellis. Photo by Miguel Amado.)

(Above: 'The Smell of Attitude' amongst 'Measuring the Universe' by Roman Ondak. Photo by Miguel Amado.)

(Above: 'The Smell of Obsession, amongst various works by Naum Gabo. Photo by Miguel Amado.)

(Above: ''Appropriate (Re-enacting Vito Acconci's ‘Seedbed' in the semi-radioactive undercroft beneath Tate St Ives)'

Sign, looped audio

 

The audio playing through the lobby speakers was of my faltering breathing and groans (impersonating Acconci's vocal sounds during his 'Seedbed' performance in 1972) echoing faintly around the Heron Mall entrance, to the side of Patrick Heron's stained glass window and beneath Martin Creed's 'Work No. 232 The whole world + the work = the whole world'. The printed sign in an official Tate stand was written by me using the Tate font.

'Choirman (I am not him and I do not have your pen)'

Performance lecture, 20mins

 

Delivered from within Martin Creed's 'Work No. 210 Half the air in a given space', my talk centered around my frustration at often being mistaken for Gareth Malone, the television choirmaster interspersed with anecdotal information, trivia and gossip from behind the scenes of the Tate exhibition. The talk ended with the balcony audience accompanying me in a loud repeated chant of the performance's title.

‘I's (#1,2,3,4&5)

Wood, adhesives, enamel paints

 

These 'I's were each made from three lengths of wood glued together and painted to resemble weathered, rusted metal tools of an uncertain function, each shaped like a serif letter 'I'. They were distributed about the galleries as if mistakenly left out by the technicians. To the bottom of each 'I' the wood grain is still faintly visible. They were placed amongst or near a series of works by Lucio Fontana, a room of maquettes and sketches by Naum Gabo, a suite of large Agnes Martin paintings and hidden in the corner of a darkened room for an Anri Sala video.

'Then (Last Week's Top Ten)'

Audio, 43 mins

 

I was offered the opportunity to also select the music for Tate St Ives rooftop cafe that evening. Given the chance I thought it would be more interesting if I attempted to record my own.

 

In keeping with the ideas of systems, repetition, and passing time in the rest of the displays I settled on an idea to re-record my own accapella versions of the previous week's top ten single releases, counting them down from ten to one. I hired a music studio and producer for an afternoon and he recorded my voice as I sang along to the originals on headphones.

'An Introduction To Laughter Yoga'

Group exercise, 10 mins

 

The evening ended with a short workshop, held within Roman Ondak's 'Measuring The Universe' room for the last fifteen minutes before the galleries closed. The previous week I had stumbled on an 'Introduction To Laughter Yoga' workshop and wanted to see if I could pass on what I learnt to the Tate St Ives audience. Exercises included 'The Handshake Laugh', 'The Painful Laugh' and 'The One Metre Laugh'. This has since become a standalone performance piece that I am regularly presenting to a wide variety of audiences.

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