This month the gallery at Modern Art Oxford has a juice bar at the centre of the building to celebrate a new exhibition that looks at how we are never truly private when we walk outside. The barriers between what is personal and what is public are investigated by placing iPads as cameras in garden hedges placed around the room.
A selfie stick is handed to visitors as they enter the space so they can take their own photos and broadcast this intimate moment of connection in an art gallery through the railings and out to the outside world.
This theme relates to the latest sensation in the London theatre world, currently at the Almeida Theatre, where Mike Bartlett ‘Game’ show lets the audience sit behind a window where the cast play out their lives publicly in a normal domestic setting; interrupted only by moments when the paying public decide to shoot them from a safe distance. Ultimately the sense of voyeurism can be a prison of cowardice and it is a bubble that needs to be broken. The bullets on stage show are only pretend and so nothing is destroyed. There is a static contained feeling in the room that reminds me of that in Modern Art Oxford where the wide open white space is filled with the results of prying eyes.
Other works include a reconstruction of a riot from the Miner’s Strike at Orgreave in the 1980’s.
Photographs displayed in the smaller galleries are of deeply felt relationship between people who have decided to reveal their feelings in public space. They are accountable for that moment even though it may have since faded
The past becomes a barrier to the present, in these works of Art. Only when we smash what separates us from the real action and dive into the present can we truly feel what is happening. A blur is created by looking from the outside in and everything is seen as if behind a window.
The title of this mixed media exhibition is ‘What makes you upwardly mobile?’ and I wonder whether spreading your face in social media via a selfie stick plays a part in this with the life of a tweet being around a minute. I wonder who is watching through the window of the internet?
All the same our inside world is turned outside throughout the gallery today and each work is cleverly thought out but nothing is resolved and this stays with me as I walk away.
Letting go of the old seems key to experiencing the creative work deeper and a quick spring clean, maybe wiping the windows clean so there is not a blur, seems like a plan.
The main piece of work on display is titled ‘Upward Mobility’ and is by Debora Delmar Corp – The Artist added ‘corp’ to her name, a term that reflects how Art is distributed.
When we are private the world is everywhere and so we are never truly alone seems enough of a take away and I struggle to finish my super healthy juice from the exhibition. The sharp taste came as a shock and certainly freed up the face muscles to feel more emotion.
The juice bar was part of the installation and I wondered how the sweet potato felt at becoming a piece of consumable art in someone’s smoothie. I made a short poem to the sweet potato that made the juice.
Upwardly Mobile Potato
The smoothie man utters
‘Move out the clutter,
It’s time to juice clean
and push a spud through the machine.’
The potato is only fit for compost.
Amongst the peelings it gets lost
but it wants to know once for all
what it’s like to be stuck on a gallery wall.
Potato skin flies like the wind and is crushed
on the carpet at the artists party you can read
the epitaph: ‘Under foot the real me will push
through – I tried but now I wish I’d been fried.
I’m the sweet one for real potatoes are a thing of the past;
their flavours don’t last.
My body lists
and I feel green tips
but it’s not too late
for the sweet potato rejuvenates.’