Identity as Performance – Reflecting on Speculative Studios
After a period of inactivity – due in no small part to a bloody annoying leak in my living room – it is time to reflect on my most recent exhibition.
‘Speculative Studios’ occupied BasementArtsProject from the 10th – 20th June. It was the latest incarnation of my project ‘Speculative Studio Spaces‘, which takes an exhibition piece produced by another artist and attempts to re-imagine the process of arriving at the finished piece by fabricating the artists’ entire studio space. On this occasion I actually fabricated two speculative studio spaces based on two artists I came in contact with during COLONIZE in 2014.
The project uses the studio as a tool that can be exploited and manipulated in order to reveal something about the intent, desires and creative processes of an artist which, in turn, gifts the audience a sense of perception. It assigns the studio to the role of a portrait, revealing a facet of an artist’s identity that is usually veiled behind a space that is often regarded as private.
Yet, in its purely static and aesthetic state, ‘Speculative Studios’ also nurtured ideas leaning toward set design, and a set design often acts merely as an appendage to the action of a narrative. Put simply, my presence within the space is often a key entry point for an audience, as it clarifies the intent and focus of a project that could otherwise be marred by complexities. Therefore a degree of performance was added to this incarnation – the mere act of being present allowed an audience to connect directly with my intentions.
Of course, it’s all very well me spouting off about some of the high end concepts Speculative Studio Spaces contains, but what it – and indeed all art – needs more than anything else is an audience. Speculative Studios at BasementArtsProject was modestly attended, and those who did attend were well immersed. Almost all attendees spent at least half an hour within the space attempting to uncover its layers and concepts. As I made the decision to include two artists, I was also cautious not to overload each studio space as I wanted a studio space and exhibition hybrid to exist. It was assumed that this would allow a more contemplative show for an audience as they look for clues towards creative processes as opposed to simply having creative processes thrust upon them. I wanted an audience to navigate their own way through the space, making their own connections derived from their own experiences, with my presence constantly driving home the notion of fiction in order to inform their contemplative actions.
I think other artists can readily identify with Speculative Studio Spaces, and that it’s certainly not as accessible as the other strand of my creative endeavours – Perfume as Practice. But it certainly creates complex and relevant conversations about what it means to be an artist, how your identity as an artist can be exploited and the fabrication of creative processes, assembled to resemble a studio can say something about how artists are perceived.
The next incarnation of Speculative Studio Spaces will in some part take the form of a stage play. Don’t know where, don’t know when.