The Red Sofa, Parchment and three pendants beneath (page one)

“I arrived at Lime St with a multi coloured golfing umbrella given to me by my parents, a white globe stolen from the ceiling of my flat in Glasgow, a digital projector borrowed from a gallery I pay to be a member of, and a shiny steel projector case. I also carried a bag of clothes and my camera, which donned its wide lens for the purpose of maximum documentation. On arriving at the A-Foundation I was taken through the galleries with all my things, through the offices, up two flights of stairs and out in to five rooms of expansive space. One room was painted gold, one white, another black, another room had no windows and finally another had a gaping hole in its side. In each of these rooms I performed over a period of three days for no one but my camera and myself. Still frame animations accumulated from countless exposures. And countless DVDs were burnt to hold these animations, rendering them capable of movement image. The objects; the umbrella, the globe, the projector and the case conferred with others found in the space: a small coffee cup and saucer from the bar downstairs, a full length mirror in a brown veneered frame, a large clear stretch of Perspex and a collection of wooden crates.”

She sat on the red sofa in front of me whilst I spoke these words to her, eating a cup cake, her head bent low over the table between us. After a short pause in expecting her reply she began to read from a piece of parchment in her hand that – as I could see from the other side of the table – was littered with scribbles and marginal corrections:

(near misses)
After a bare-footed mountain climb he found himself half way across a river hanging from a rope swing. Whilst hovering just two inches above the water he recalled his initial excitement that was now debased by the present situation. He remembered the feeling in his tired feet as they left the ground and as his weight and momentum transferred to his hands clasped around the rope. But he never reached the other side and on his return failed to touch base. As he hung there like a broken pendulum listening to the voice of the water, his partner, sat on the riverbank on the opposite side, told him a story:

Breaking from the text she crossed her legs, swallowed the last of her cake, and brushed the crumbs off her lap watching them fall to the floor between us. She then continued to read:

(My memory is my own)
“In the town where I grew up a couple who lived in a house with many rooms of many colours held an annual feast celebrating the twelve days of Christmas. The entire community was invited and for each man and every woman a small cake was baked. In two of these cakes, a cake for a man and one for a woman, the cook buried two rings. At the end of the feast the rings revealed themselves and whoever then possessed them demanded an audience and decided upon the fate of the community. Decisions were made, the community acted and things changed with each year. This is quite the collective memory, a piece of folk lore you might say, but I do hold a particular experience (some would say a secret) that I now bestow upon you as your feet hover above this fast flowing water: one year at the time of the feast I took ill, I could not eat my cake so decided to keep it. And one of the rings was never found…”

She then took the parchment, folded it along the lines of its practiced size and turned her attention, at last, to me asking:

“What made you decide to disown your work and give these moments of experience and this effort as an artist away? Does your work have no value to you?”
To this I replied: “I wanted them to think of my work not as a commodity but as something they could own in return for their very participation. It also had to be something they could keep, not give back like some sort of trophy upon leaving the gallery. They experienced the work so they have access to it as an experience: it ceases to be ephemeral if it is something given to them physically, as an object”
“What is it you’re getting at?”
“…How an audience and the relationship they have with the artist can sometimes get stuck in the middle (the artist can also be stuck in the middle completely exposed). I wanted to elevate this relationship, passing over the ownership of my work.”
“How did you meet them half way?”
“As the artist I took an anonymous role entering in to the domain of the spectator. In disguise I approached people watching my film – which at times clearly featured me – and engaged them in conversation. Then I slowly revealed who I was releasing my anonymity.”
“I gave them fragments of the film burnt to DVDs I had concealed in my green jacket”
“Do you think this element of private performance worked?”
“Yes it worked, I am not longer stuck in the middle, it gave me a momentum to either return to the beginning away from my position as the artist, or indeed to continue ahead. But with each element given away there was less of a title for the work and less of me. Soon enough I disappeared entirely.”

She stopped me here and with a sigh, delicately hidden under her breath, she unfolded the parchment and read the final paragraph aloud:

(Il est un magicien est lui un magicien?)
For him nothing was tight or durable enough apart from the rope he now held in his hands. From his publisher we know that his proof reading habits were the absolute despair of the typesetters. The galley proof always went back stuffed with marginal notes and not a single misprint had been corrected had been corrected. All available space had been used for fresher ideas and there was little room for refining what already existed. Thus the laws of remembrance were operative within the confines of the work alone, not the review of it. For an experienced event is finite and a remembered event is infinite as it is only a key to everything that happened before and what is still to come. And each fraction is then juggled back and forth surpassing and subverting its order.

She then asked: “Why did you choose to include this part of the text?”
I replied: “Ideas are never seamless or left alone unless they’re distributed accordingly. Otherwise they are marginalised by the fresher ideas that creep in and appear in the margin on the page… I made the DVDs more like art objects by, in place of a title, drawing intricately on their surface. There was more to give away, and with each part then more ideas were abstracted, distributed. The work is not memory but tangible... like a pendant itself.”