12 Minutes of Fame

12 Minutes of Fame

Walking into Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery (Located on Hewitt Street close to the Deansgate/Castlefield Metrolink stop) early in the afternoon I was looking forward to seeing their annual Head to Head exhibition. The format of this annual event has been reworked so that each artist now presents consecutively.

I was keen to see the work of Christian Falsneas. Although from Denmark he is now Berlin based and this was to be his first UK exhibition. The format, where the first visitor each day is asked to participate in producing the artwork, which is then shown throughout the day, is something Falsneas does on a regular basis and very often without the prior knowledge of the participant. Throughout his work he has designated the audience as his principle material.

Arriving mid afternoon you can imagine my surprise to find I was the first of the day! Not really that surprising if you think it was midweek, but quiet a shock for me when I was asked to create today’s artwork. Now, when I say create, it is a collaboration as you are asked to respond or react to questions given by one of the gallery staff and the art comes in how you interpret the response/question

The exhibition space is downstairs in a white painted room with a black backdrop on one wall, a video camera and two lights and marks for the participant to stand so they are in camera shot.

After being re-assured that the video would be deleted at the end of the day I agreed to participate. I have to say I am not always the first to volunteer for such opportunities, but, as the saying goes ……if you don’t go….. you’ll never know!

From being asked to “dance wildly” to making a statement about something I felt strongly about; to more dancing (I was obviously showing a talent or perhaps it was meant to give the viewer a smile…..likely the latter) and asking the viewer repeatedly to join in by asking them to do something you request. I asked that they smile!

It was all over in 12 minutes.

After being treated to a cup of tea, and a chat about the experience, I left to visit the Rachel Maclean exhibition at HOME. (which is for another blog). However, I couldn’t stop thinking about how it would look, had anyone seen it? what did they think? So around tea time I made my way back and asked to see the video which was running in the downstairs gallery where it was shot.

For anyone unused to being filmed, let alone in such a slightly bizarre situation, it was an unusual experience. Had I really done that, danced in such a frenetic way? (as instructed) How did I look?

I looked liked someone who had just walked in off the street, been asked to do something slightly silly, slightly serious, and contribute to an absent artists work. As the film is deleted at the end of the day I’ll never know if I could have been talent spotted, perhaps snapped up by the National Theatre, as I didn’t ask how many, if any, had seen the film that day. More likely a spot on You’ve Been Framed would be my best guess.

As an art form I found it both challenging and interesting. The concept was interesting, the action as a participant the challenge. The sense of actually being involved left a smile……perhaps the artists intention.