Recently a group of postgraduate students from Goldsmiths College (University of London) where I am enrolling my MA programme just came up with a brilliant idea which was transforming their personal space in school dorm into open exhibition space. The exhibition was entitled Flat 34 representing the location of the space: Flat 34, Ewen Henderson Court Hall, Goldsmiths College. In a platform of approximately 90 square meter, there were 5 single bedrooms, a small technical room and a pretty large common kitchen. The displayed included 12 art works of photography, visual art, documentary, composition and multi-media interaction.
Among those 12, the one that impressed me the most is the video piece shown on a 15in laptop screen in the dark technical room containing only some plastic pipes and a broom. It was a silent piece, I meant there were some noise from camera practicing but the character didn’t say a word. On the screen, a young woman sat by her washing machine. Once in a while she kept sitting in tranquillity with some dead fishes on the floor. Next scenes, she was dragging some sand-like material on the floor and pretend to swim (or in fact she did in real). Later on, she was leaning on the washing machine again, the room was getting darker and darker then totally black. Suddenly, we saw a round light turned on. It was spreading around from the round door of the washing machine…
My purpose is not commenting on the artwork, because whether they are loved or not, I still think this is a brilliant way of organizing an exhibition. I like it. I like it because of two reasons.
First, it provide the art students a platform to work with, for their individualism, for their ego, for art without any commercial motivation. It is pure.
Secondly, to me and the visitors, this is an extraordinary experiences, in the sense of both life and art. The students – artirsts were displaying their works in personal bedroom where they were sleeping, writing essays, singing, showering, maybe making love, …, which made us really confused about determining what is supposed to be exhibited, what is not? It’s like Anne, a Dutch girl who is also a participant, said that “There will be a book exhibited on my desk, for example, but I also have books on my shelves – where is the limit?”. Yeah, what is the limit? What is the limit of the artwork, what is the limit of the exhibition space? Moreover, what is the limit of our imagination and conception? Because, I bet whist looking for the displayed objects, we were unconsciously create artworks of our own by embodied our concepts, our creativity in to random items. Is it an amazing way to connect us to the artists, to interact with the exhibition spaces?
It was not only me. In several conversations, I found out that many people have the same feeling when entering others’ personal spaces without permission (even if we are permitted to do that in reality, but not like an invitation personally with a hug as usual). I felt like I was an intruder, a pervert who was trying to illegally jump into an innocent girl’s room. In a Western zone where individualism is highly concerned more than any other,it was in deed a serious struggling experience.
After a little while, suddenly I totally overcome the feeling of being a ‘pervert’, as being overwhelmed by a new phase of human instinct: CURIOUSITY. Having gone through the displayed objects (mostly not even yet), we would definitely looked around, checked out the owers’ stuff. Their book lists, their notes, even their toilet perhaps,… with unavoidable personal and possibly judgmental reflections on anything.