Degree Show - Central St Martins College of Art and Design, July 2009

The statement made by Nicholas Bourriaud, ‘Art is a state of encounter’ [1] in his book titled ‘Relational Aesthetics’ would be the starting point and a point of arrival for my art practice.  Being in London, it was inevitable that inter-subjectivity and interaction in this social urban context become the central theme of my art practise. It was interesting that though a ‘State of encounter was imposed on people’ 1 in the city, that people seemed more insulated and isolated than in any other context. My art practise started with questioning this state and my investigation began in attempting to identify and break through this barrier. I started by trying to get friends and other art student to get involved in an experiment called ‘Round Hole’ whereby the participants with no knowledge of their potential experience, were blindfolded and led into a room and asked to explore the objects in front of them. The resulting video of them participating, I decided to present as a video projection in a small contained space to a small group of viewers. From the ensuing discourse, I decided to take on board the comment that it seemed more like a self portrait and decided to further investigate this aspect. I decided to re-shoot and rework my strategy and decided to involve only women in my project and, though difficult, to try and recruit only strangers. Over a few more presentations and follow-on discussions, I realised that my video projection of women blindfolded wasn’t necessarily communicating the nervousness, excitement, fear and disappointment that I experienced when approaching strangers and my nervous attempts to persuade them to take part in my video project. Similar emotions were experienced by the women who decided to take part in my video once they were in an unfamiliar context in the basement of the college with a person they didn’t know! Though I was out of my comfort zone when approaching strangers on the public street, once they were in the room blindfolded, I felt the power of being in control of another. This transference of emotions and power and the change in the context from a public space to private space seemed not apparent in the artwork.

It therefore became significant that I am able to translate and transfer those emotions to my artwork. It became important that the viewer, the receiver of my work is able to experience the emotions and tension that I and the people who participated in my experiment felt. I wanted the viewer to be able to experience the change both in the physical context as well as mental state of the artist and the volunteers taking part in the experiment.

I have in my current work tried to simulate public and private space and considering the limitations of the space assigned have taken the decision to use sound and light as my mediums. I have created an environment that would situate the viewer firmly within the work and not outside it and also have the freedom to complete it. It is an assemblage of light and different sounds, interspersed with silences to provoke and renews distant memories and associations and alliances.
[1] ‘Relational Aesthetics’, By Nicolas Bourriaud, Published by Les Presses du rĂ©el, 2002, ISBN 2840660601, 782840660606