Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Observatory - 07/07/07

A review by Laura Horsley

Invited into the Jones’s country family home, offered tea and cakes and asked to enter a raffle was seemingly your model, traditional, English event. Well, it would have been if the cakes weren’t offered by “rangers” and the garden wasn’t hidden from view by “The observatory”; a tent with various viewing holes that created the backdrop for this event. What was striking about the juxtaposition between these two odd situations was that one was left with an odd feeling of expectation, in the knowledge this was a quirky art show that wasn’t quite as it seemed, whilst still feeling the natural desire to fall back into the security of “tea party” chitter chatter.

Guests were however extracted from their comfort zones and asked to take part in intriguing tasks; the first being to shovel a jam jar of “worms” (that looked uncannily like tinned spaghetti) into dog bowls. A few other “lucky” guests were then given the rather stylish prospect of putting a worm costume on. These new found worms were then let loose into the “wildlife”. Adela is interested in “the way people express, hide and reveal emotions” and it was perhaps this dynamic that meant this concern could be explored. Without this knowledge however observers remained entertained and intrigued by the uncomfortable yet comical situations the guests were being put into.

Due to this diversity and unusual unfolding events there was a feeling that previous expectations of the event were now dropped leaving minds fresh for what Adela was going to spring on us next. For me this had the effect of making the audience’s minds blank canvas’s that Adela could make her own unique imprint on without having to work with what we already expected from her; a valuable ability to have over an audience.

And of course, she did make quite an imprint. On looking through the observatory windows the audience were faced with the sight of Adela creeping out a corner of the garden, skulking around making peculiar noises, dressed as, of course, a mole. Following this odd spectacle the almost sinister and mysterious creature would hammer red pegs into the soil in some sort of peculiar yet accurate constellation. After this was completed the pegs were linked together with string and Adela began to fill her marked out boundaries with soil. Throughout this the guests, binoculars and wildlife books in hand, stood amusingly bewildered by the abnormal, strange proceedings. Only when the soil was shaped and the string and pegs were taken away could the audience see “The recently noted unusual behavior of local wildlife” in the Jones’s garden was in fact a contradictory mole that made its mole hills in the day time, with accurate precision and from the surface downwards.

With this notion, Adela, had almost created and acted out her own myth leaving the audience to interpret it how they wished. There was that lighthearted aspect to the performance which was taken home by many of the guests but yet there seemed something more edgy and dark that was perhaps overlooked. This aspect was left to the viewers own interpretation. Some took the environmental stance that the guests in the observatory conveyed the distance between humans and wildlife; one guest even took a 1984 approach that this perhaps conveyed a hormone imbalance due to pesticides and here we were looking into the future. Heavy stuff I know, perhaps something was in those cakes…

The point being that by creating something so diverse, one could create any interpretation they wanted. Each guest took a different aspect or take on Adela’s vast imagination away with them. This was not your textbook art performance, if there ever was one, making it more than just a pleasant day out and instead an innovative experience that would live long in the memory.

Laura Horsley