Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Falcon Bride

The Falcon Bride is an experimental ‘room-sized book’ – which I set up in a gallery in Lewes, Sussex during the local Arts Festival. I deliberately wrote no introductory explanations of the piece other than that it is based on a visit to the Polish city of Krakow, where we visited the small museum containing Leonardo’s painting ‘Lady with Ermine’ and a small Egyptian Department containing some mummified falcons; the Polish Ethnographic Museum; and the old Jewish Quarter.
It is a ‘book’ in that you are entering a world and a story which it takes time to absorb; there is a web of references and cross-references of images in different forms – 10 prints on the walls, hand-made objects and models, and a table full of hand-painted books.
The idea of making the room look like a Polish Café (a setting which re-appears within the images) is to make people feel comfortable, both psychologically and physically, as they sit to look into what can be a slightly disturbing journey - in that it asks questions without giving answers. The images and objects, hand-made reproductions of what I saw, but deliberately made to be somehow ‘on the point of becoming’, are proving quite powerful.

I am always there invigilating so it becomes almost a performance piece as I am asked questions and enter into a dialogue about our perceptions of what we are seeing; but the main idea is always to encourage people to allow the exhibits to speak for themselves and to trust and listen to their own reactions.
Each person opens up their own story.
All the exhibits are constructed from basic organic materials such as feather, bone, wax, wood, or recycled paper, card and scrim, and are fragile, but the books are designed to be handled and read.
There is nothing to buy or sell and part of the idea has been to try and restructure the way people look at art-works, how long they spend doing it, and what they expect from them.

It is trying to restore the delicate interaction between maker and viewer which became interesting at the beginning of the Open Studios movement but has now become over-commercialised again .Having been brought up (artistically speaking) by someone totally devoted to accessibility, but working myself with very personal but archetypal imagery, I am constantly aware of the interface between the two approaches.
I shall try and bring a reduced version of it to my space at LAB 07 at the ICA in November.

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