(c) Dora Carpenter-Latiri
Davy & Kristin McGuire
CONNECT! 2015 – Museums at Night’s contemporary arts strand
When over 30,000 people vote to Connect! six creative contemporary artists with six extraordinary cultural venues anything can happen! A public vote competition with a social purpose, big name artists crafting public art in museums, artistic collaboration designed by the people, Connect! is all these things and more.
It all started on the first of May when voting opened and 29 venues competed to win one of six outstanding contemporary artists -34,000 people voted and by 15 May the die had been cast, the winning venues revealed. The fourth edition of a project that started in 2012, has seen over 150,000 people cast their votes and has created events by Grayson Perry, Spencer Tunick, Martin Creed and Rankin and 32 other contemporary art luminaries was about to add six more inspirational events to the canon.
Alinah’s event was a playful and profound exploration of gift and generosity with inevitable detours into debt and gratitude! The artist pondered the bright and dark side of giving and receiving, with a cross-over of psychoanalytic, anthropological and artistic perspectives on the foundations of our social relationships. The evening was inspired by Freud’s love of, and attachment to, his collection of objects and his interesting ideas on the topic. Visitors were invited to make and exchange gifts, given the opportunity to sit and talk on a replica of Freud’s couch, listen to talks on Freud’s view of gifting and enjoy live music beside the blazing brazier in Freud’s front garden.
Harrison’s Garden is an imagined inner landscape and garden of clocks. The title of the artwork refers to the famous clock maker John Harrison, who struggled for decades to make navigation at sea safer, by creating the most accurate clock the world had ever seen. At the south-west England based gallery Jerram collected together 1,000 clocks donated by members of the public and clustered them into species to form islands, pathways and borders. Some clocks seem like classics of their time, others are a pastiche, pretending to be classical clocks of a previous era. The gallery presented a week-long programme of workshops, talks and events and broke their record weekly attendance figures.
Dave & Kristin McGuire’s Starkers (part of the Perfect event) at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead
The McGuires used their trademark 3D projection mapping technique combined with story-telling voice-over to create a site-specific work that integrated into a venue wide event called Perfect. The installation, in-situ for three weeks after the event, feels so much like a performance that you start to associate with the endurance of poor Pauline, stood starkers for thousands of years – “outlived empires and dictators”. The sold-out event incorporated dance, human sculpture and live music animating the space like never before and always linking back to the theme examining our relationship with the nude human form.
Halloween in Dundee was greeted with an ambitious programme of light, projections, sound and sculpture orchestrated by Pure Evil, the nom de plume of graffiti artist Charles Uzzell-Edwards. Mr Evil atmospherically lit perspex templates hung from the vertiginous beams of the newly reopened Verdant’s High Mill space, creating colourful shadow imprints of his work on the venue’s flooring accompanied by self-penned ambient soundscapes, creating the impression of a Victorian factory haunted by the future techno-ghosts of celebrity as the images of, mainly female, former factory workers gazed down from the walls in frozen awe. A ghostly choir of local children in Victorian costume heralded the evening atop the building’s iron balcony.
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If opening up for three extra hours one evening a year stretches some museums how would an energy-sapping round-the-clock 24 hours impact on the Novium? Well they made it with aplomb as a motley collection of local musicians; artist and community groups entertained the locals with hands-on activities and dressing-up joined by world famous Yinka Shonibare for the first shift, all inspired by local Colin Pullinger, Victorian inventor of the first humane mousetrap. The graveyard midnight to 7am period prompted some tireless visitors to turn from audience members to performers, with an unscheduled jam session and hundreds of families joined in the fun on Saturday.
Gillian Wearing led an exploration of shyness that relied on, the very people self-identified as shy, to take centre-stage to talk about their feelings. Culture24’s Mark Sherrin said, “Taking the form of two afternoon workshops and a performance in the evening, there were up to 30 participants from all walks of life. Behind the low stage was a black curtain, with the words “I’m shy”, scrawled in a nervous hand. Performers had the option of appearing in front of or behind this screen. In the afternoon life coach Isabel Mortimer had drilled them on body language and Jim Hall took them for a poetry workshop”. This produced a moving event experience for participants and audience alike, cathartic, inspiring and for some maybe game-changing, “I feel like I could do it ten more times” said participant Chris.