For my Final Major Project I had set out to produce a performance to mock the archetypes of ‘the art exhibition’, but as the project developed, I began to take more interest in ‘the documentation of the ephemeral’ and made changes to the choice of medium. This is because throughout the Foundation course (especially during the realisation of the FMP) I felt pressured by the fact that I had physical restraints on the material outcome of my ideas. Being an overseas student without a permanent home in the country, moving and storing my belongings has always been problematic. Though I dislike the idea of discarding work, I also dislike the idea of making something that leaves no trace behind. This has to do both with my unstable experience growing up and my desire to keep a practical memento. Had I decided to carry out a live performance, I would not have the possibility to look back and review it afterwards, unless I had asked for friends to help film. Consequently, I came to the decision that an ‘ongoing virtual performance’ will be most appropriate final piece for the project and most authentic to my practice.
I had encountered many challenges during the process of setting up the installation in the exhibition, which I have decided to then film. For example, due to the ordinary appearance and practical functions of my set up – the table and chair (even though I had carefully selected the two to specifically stand out in the art foundation studio), it was constantly being disregarded as ‘a highbrow work of art’ and instead being used for what they are. I thought that this phenomenon was fascinating – I wanted to know when was the turning point of when ‘a commodity/ready-made’ becomes ‘Art’. In this case, it never happened in the curatorial process among staff and students. I will be curious to see how the audience perceives the piece in the exhibition. Many technical problems also occurred: the need for an extension cable and the last minute discovery that there is no wireless Internet on all the college Mac computers. The former I easily resolved by finding an appropriate length extension, keeping in consideration health and safety hazards as well as minimal visual disruption. The latter I had to seek help from the college technicians, who after half an hour of frantic clicking here and there in the settings, diagnosed the irresolvable problem as a default setting, ‘a local account’ and that the only way in which there could be Internet connection would be if I used my phone as a hotspot. Surprisingly, the news thrilled me infinitely. It meant that the artist had to be present for the work to function(as Art at least), another concept that only seemed to add to my final piece, once again challenging the notions of an artwork – its autonomy and independence from the artist. If this had occurred to the ‘me’ a year ago (or the ‘me’ from the beginning of the Foundation course), I would have descended into complete panic. I am now proud to say that I have now grown to think laterally and flexibly, to accept and to embrace flaws and imperfections and to see the good in the bad.
I would like to review the final piece against the mock attempt I did of the art sink, but I also feel that their content and the intention are intrinsically different. The sink was made purely for a good laugh, whereas I began writing the script for the ‘art exhibition’ tour with the specific intention of communicating my disappointments. This has affected both the way in which I wrote and what I wrote. My major breakthrough was possibly the moment I actually stopped wanting to go through all the talking points I had in mind and instead focussing on my personal experience installing and curating my space.
All in all, I see my final piece as a success. The short, satirical performance adheres to my initial intentions of addressing the paradoxes in the art world as well as my own. Personally, I prefer the script of ‘tour of the sink’ because of how silly and whimsical it is, but for the sake of fulfilling my final major project goals, I believe that the sacrifice of some caprice was necessary and worth it.
This project taught me many things about myself, namely the fact that I may be more interested in the aspect of curating art instead of making art. I hope to continue exploring this area up to and perhaps even beyond university level.