By responding to Michael Stumpf’s work at the Amphitheatre, UWTSD Fine Art students Rhiannon Ames and Lucy Bethel created a collaborative site-specific event that attempted to disrupt the space with performative intervention.
Lucy’s work focused on Stumpf’s use of the Amphitheatre as a space for discussion and debate, while also incorporating the idea of a public’s interaction with art. Using walkie-talkies, connected by a loop of string without a purpose – a digital tin can telephone – the public were encouraged to say whatever they wanted as their conversation wasn’t being recorded. This gave the audience a cathartic sense of freedom of speech, as once the button was released the conversation disappeared; only existing in the mind of the listener opposite. This highlights the imperfections in our current modes of digital communication. The walkie-talkie puts a temporary halt to the silent encroachment of a higher control of digital eavesdropping and CCTV. Making the audience self-conscious of themselves within the space, the Amphitheatre can take on the role of a discussion platform, blurring the lines between public and private space.
Rhiannon’s current practice investigates the balance of power and control between men and women whilst discussing their representations and roles within contemporary society. Her practice aims to highlight how patriarchy and the media prescribe gender appropriate behaviours, qualities and characteristics which continue to socially condition society to behave and think within a particular way. Her sculptural work aims to question the relevance of masculine and feminine genders whilst sharing similarities in form to Michael Stumpf’s tap dancing boulder ‘One Of Us’. Rhiannon uses the Amphitheatre as a platform for the work to encourage public interaction within the space. The work raises questions surrounding the possibility that identity is a performance through the audience trying on the different ‘heads’. These ‘heads’ play a role in creating an alternative temporary identity for the participant to step in and out of, suggesting that identity is a changeable entity.
The combination of these playful interactive elements addresses wider political views surrounding control systems within society.
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