Atelier Public #2

Last week costumes were introduced to the workspace of ATELIER PUBLCI#2.

Already bodies inhabit the gallery space daily, as the public wander, work, create, change and destroy with the materials available to them. The problematic nature of an artist inserting themselves into this structure – when the roles of artist or curator have become somewhat ambiguous- has been covered already in previous conversations, however it makes it no less problematic. When you walk into the gallery space you are hit with an overwhelming dissonant plethora of names, poetry, images, signs, statements, slogans, sculptural objects, architectural models and instruments. All of these pieces of people’s minds, made from cardboard, cloth, paper, tape and vinyl provided at some point or other in the life of the exhibition, and left to the will of the next participant. With this as a starting point I want to look closer at the physicality of existing in, and using the space.

Introducing cloaks and masks to the gallery will allow us to examine the safety and permission of role play. When one is adorned in disguise, masking their current identity, assuming a new one, they enter an altered space in which there is freedom to explore and act out-with common boundaries; to move in a release from personal appearance and circumstance. Based in my interest in personal storytelling, mythologies and histories, I hope that by giving the audience this option or permission of sorts that they will be able to connect themselves physically with the space, and adapt and modify the costume to fit their own idiosyncratic expressions. In a sense allowing the ideas to move from the walls of the gallery onto the body. Will these become performances, theatre, playtime, images, films? Tangible or ephemeral?

Of course there are subversive and potentially political connotations that play along side this, in hiding the face, dissolving identity. Masks worn in protest, riot and struggle. However the animal masks are reflective of the types of characters commonly appearing in the work being created in the gallery; identifiable faces which transcend language, cultural or educational limitations. They also carry religious, superstitious and mythological symbolism and can be read in a myriad of ways. It will then be up to each body engaging with the materials to decide what they represent to them as an individual.

Be it an exercise in escapism, or a chance to create and tell stories, I look forward to seeing and hearing of the ideas that spring forth over the coming weeks.

Claire Adams Ferguson