Write a novel not to be actually read but just to take a picture of the stacked pages that constitute it’s bulk. A years work that would be unknowable to anyone except myself because I’d destroy the pages and the computer files after taking the picture.
I came upon the idea for Constructions as I rode my bike to work and thought about an image I had taken on Monday of this week (previous post) . As soon as I arrived at work and locked my bike up I started thinking about it more seriously. I’d originally thought I’d call it Found, Constructions is a much more engaging and applicable term. I’ve been thinking about it all week now. It’s morphed into thought and imaginings revolving around Nuit Blanche 2013.
I’d like to suggest a Chris Shepherdly-simple curatorial thematic for the all night extravaganza next year. “Constructions” would incorporate ideas of discovery, luck, happenstance, searching, loss, misplacing, inspiration, building, representation, illusion, labour, etc. In a perfect world I could submit the theme, curate a zone, and research and perform a piece.
I’ll work on creating a curatorial statement.
The piece itself would bring together the majority of my focused concepts. A combination of Vacancy, The Task, The Clock, Waiting, Transitions, etc. It would be performance, sculpture and photography based.
For “Constructions” I would seek out existing building sites in several Nuit Blanche zones, get access to them and then rearrange / move elements of those locations. In the same way I moved the cinder block in The Task
Each site would have an imaginary Visual Frame of reference attached to some specific location on the periphery of the site. The optimal vantage point from where the piece is intended to be viewed. I would build a sculpture with pipes, blocks, pallets, etc. so that when viewed from that reference point — at a certain angle and dimension– the composition would be optimally represented. I’ve also toyed with the idea of making the “new ” compositions reference famous painting.
Effort – This is an adaptation of the above. In this variation of Constructions I would remove the complicated and somewhat overused reference to painting history and concentrate on more on the nature of effort and the dynamics of “appearance”. In a construction site with various piles of material I’d take a photograph. Then manually I would move the material until a mirror image of it’s original location and layout was achieved. It would then be physically flipped. At this point I take another photo. In Photoshop flip the original photograph. The two “twin” photographs would hang side by side as a diptych. The result should be two identical or at least very similar images but each would have a completely different meaning.
A simplified, final installment of The Task. The title speaks about commitment and work ethic.
Take one skid of standard 8″ concrete block and move the contents to an opposing skid a short distance away. Continue back and forth at a comfortable rate until exhaustion sets in. Breaks will be taken to eat and drink and for the washroom but the simple, repetitive, pointless journey back and forth will continue for as long as possible and at a steady a rate while recording the scene on continuous video/audio. The work should be done neatly if not compulsively. If it can be done for 12 hours, do that. if I can manage 24 so be it.
Perform the piece in the Mercer back gallery space taking care to place the opposing skids in an aesthetically calculated way. The camera set up should work so that the video fits into the final gallery set up in kind. Meaning I want to think about how the process is filmed and how to play it back in such a way that it looks good but the video will display the action like the viewer is looking through a window at it. The work could finish with some block on both pallets. It could finish with one uniform full skid and one empty skid. Once it is complete mount a video screen on the wall of the gallery to play back the real time performance… However long it ends up being. No edits or treatments. One single shot over however long it takes. On the opposite wall there should be a printed label that tabulates all the statistics involved including how many block, how much time it took, weight, etc.
The exhibition will be the static skid that people can touch to gauge the block weight, the other skid – either partially or empty, the video playing on a loop on the wall and the statistics.
The more I think about it the more the skids should be left in mid “job” so that the emphasis is taken off the “goal”. I would like the piece to be viewed as a monument to work itself, not a specific job, task or purpose.
When shooting the video record the sound in super high quality to be played back at a level that mimics the actual sound of the 12 hours of work.
This was the original thought for the piece I ended up performing last fall in Hamilton.
The Task but using 1 pallet of blocks in a square space that has some access for filming from
Place the pallet of block in the in the north center quadrant which will represent 12 o’clock. Move the pallet 12 times over the 12 hour period so that the finished pallets end up in positions representing the hours of a clock.
This task is completed when the pallet is returned to it’s original position at 12 o’clock 12 hours later.
Film onto a computer hard drive so the camera can be suspended and continuously film. Use larger block than Nuit Blanche to manage the hour between hours.
Do this on an actual stage and the audience can sit and observe like the most boring play in the world. Lighting and music included, it would be very cool if there was a trap door I could use as the escape route to washroom and eating. Maybe in the center of the stage?
Only requires 1 full pallet of bricks and an extra pallet to act as the transfer pallet.
Find a theatre that doesn’t have anything going on for Nuit Blanche. Maybe ask the Nuit Folks. The more elaborate the venue the better.
I executed a version of this for the 2011 Hamilton Supercrawl. It was weird being in the thick of things, and I would have preferred to be arthritis free, but all in all I think the people enjoyed either discussing the piece or razzing me about it. I think the curatorial staff was pleased as well.
Since the execution of The Task I’ve dreamed up a bunch of other similar performances based around labour and construction. These are all variations on the theme;
1. Hole – dig a hole and then fill it in over a 12 hour period. I see it as a pretty large hole. one that I may end up having to get in and out of with a ladder. The other thing I just realized is I’m thinking of a grave shape. during the process I’d endeavor to control the formation of e walls so they were very uniform.
2. Pyramid – see if it’s possible to make a pyramidal dirt form while emptying a hole. the hole itself should be shaped like the inverse of the pyramid.that will end up the same shape. To execute maybe start with a square short walled sand box type base and pile the dirt but shape it as I go with a bricklayers trowel.
3. Cone – same as above but a more radically sloped shape than what would be creayed by gravity. I envision the final, product as being more topiary in nature.
4. Gravel Cone – get a gravel slinger truck to drop a load of p gravel but have them slowly dump it to form as close to a true conical shape that gravity will form as possible. Move that cone of gravel to a location about 20 feet away by hand with a shovel and a large step ladder. the possibility also exists to use a wheel barrow and set up a scaffold to facilitate dropping the gravel from a point above the cone as it increases in size via that wheelbarrow. This could be a site specific work that unfolded over the period of a week or two.
5. Snow – shovel an entire football field by hand.