Our Chief Article writer Brittany Sutcliffe visits 3rd Year Fine Arts Exhibition ‘When We Connect’
Taking over the BUMF gallery this time, we had twenty-one Third Year Fine Art students who were asked to create work through “public participation”. Participatory art requires the audience to be engaged directly in the creative process, allowing them to become co-creators, as well as observers of the work. Individuals took to the street to promote an opinion or a good cause, others to serve us food or dress people in antlers…
The majority of the pieces were documented results of participation prior to the exhibition but a few were created there and then through the visitor’s interactions with the works. For example, the corridor from the gallery to the toilets is a small and dark space that you move through in an instant to get from A to B. Richard Cockhill sticks a black light in it and, well, me and a friend cheekily took selfies as our teeth lit up every time we grinned, only realising how silly we looked when people opened the door just to pass through. The light flooded in, the black light was rendered useless and so we ended up stood awkwardly in a cramped corridor. Without a blacklight, we would have kept walking without consideration of use for the space.
“Limited Migration” is a video by Avni Agarwal inspired by the idea that clothing provides a sense of unity. We see it every day in the context of uniforms and branded clothing so Avni tested this by handing out antler headbands for strangers to wear. The video is of the strangers interacting in a pub whilst overlaid with the recording of an interview where they explain how the antlers had actually created this sense of unity that Avni had hypothesised.
Toby Broughton’s “Sit” came in the form of a visual proposal for the local council; if a park bench was placed overlapping parking spaces, would you sit? A bench is something that if placed, will always be used, I think. I can imagine my Dad parking next to one of them and me plonking myself down after he runs off to the ticket machine, the idea of this piece being to discourage car usage in the first place.
On the whole, a rewarding experience as each piece of work has a remarkable amount of thought put into it, something that’s symbolic of the positive interactions between the students and those that they perhaps weren’t so familiar with to come together and help them. Admirable to see people using their gallery space to bring light to good causes such as the prevention of a harmful gas rig being built in Swanage. The private viewing was choc-a-bloc with people coming to celebrate and discuss the work so I can cheerfully state that “When We Connect” was a triumph.
Words by Brittany Sutcliffe // Photographs by Kate Wolstenholme