Something Human’s intern Ji-Young Ahn
continues to share her responses to the From East to the BARBICAN programme, contemplating Wednesday’s performance preparations and artist conversations…
Wednesday 19th definitely saw me thankful for having worn trainers that day, where early on I was fortunate to meet artist Boedi and Audrey from Singapore at the Brady Arts Centre where with our “invisible helium tanks” and go-pro, we surveyed Allen Gardens, documenting his work with the chalk stones, and surveying the local area to ensure the best route. Whilst the Wednesday journey to Spitalfields did not draw much attention, the extra eyes on the day would definitely be needed to ensure that no problems would arise with the balloon regarding traffic and/or other unprecedented accidents, be that a lost pigeon or electrical lines tangle.
To visit the Barbican Centre later on with both curators backstage, which unfortunately displayed average, ordinary-looking offices, to discuss final changes to the schedule and possible technical issues was extremely useful and significant in gaining a realistic insight into the organising of not only an exhibition, but workshop, presentation and an arts event altogether.
After an uber quick return to the Idea Store, there was a presentation involving both Boedi Widjaja and Richard DeDomenici discussing their previous works, as well as their vision for Saturday. The intimate conversations were very engaging with discussions ranging from harmless balloons being given to children as methods of propaganda, and giant balls of gum in Singapore. The talks, similarly to those on the Monday, having been useful in learning more about the personal backgroundsof the artists, as well as the irony of how one can get arrested for trying to break into prison.
Again, with performance and live art, one aspect that made me think a lot more was the restrictions imposed on those mediums and often the stigma that comes attached. Thus, the frustrations for the artist, curator/director and viewer when the art and fundamentally what can constitute art is decided for us, and subject to: “It’s not real. It’s not art”. Whilst this then opens up a larger debate involving academics and tradition, in terms of the current project there was undeniably a funny taboo that came with the idea of having a funeral procession for a person that was ‘not alive’. The piece concentrating on remembering the history and importance of families and communities knit together for decades, through the physical reference to the loss of old domestic tower blocks.
Boedi’s work which emphasises a personal and sentimental connection to the artist, involving a giant balloon harnessed and weighted by a body-bag full of chalk, being significant in encouraging thought on the inconveniences that can
arise. I thus pondered the other spectrum, and the ‘its art’ excuse and defence against, or for, any sort of avant-garde work and its increasing cliché nature, as well as the disputes that arise when the phrase is utilised as a sort of derogatory justification, a result and reminder of people failing to understand or realise art.