I feel I have achieved the uncanny experience I set out to create in my site-specific panopticon/cell for my interim piece. A comment on bio power politics sits powerfully within the confines of the original prison boundary wall beyond the window of Triangle space.
I could easily spend an age in front of this one way mirror, even at the risk of being called vain; for there exists an intimacy ‘designed to use absolute control to break the inmate through isolation and careful manipulation of time, space and sensory input’. The small room exudes an energy. Spending time as I did, observing members of the public interacting with the cubicle was crucial to the experiment. Through play, a person was the power of authority, overseeing from the central tower.Then they switched to the oppressed, confined, segregated. Incarcerated inside the cell you are prisoner; trained to ‘behave’ intensalising the authority behind the one way mirror.
The need of headphones was an efficient tool in creating an immersive experience; heads tilted to raise the gaze to bars to glimpse the world beyond and their fate. The film imagery was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s Ballard With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun and political activist and inmate of Millbank Prison of the C19th, Micheal Davitt whose chilling description of the echoes of Big Ben marking ‘the funeral dirge of time ‘striking on the lonely ears of inmates’.
Materiality and physicality are areas of interest to me. Here the honesty of the natural material and texture is central to my thinking -cold to touch steel, hard lines, juxtaposed with soft coloured pine, sweet smelling wood, and OBS board give off a visceral thrill – a tactile way of playing with material and narrative.
During installation an interesting conversation occured ; I was challenged by a couple of my peers whom I regard as intelligent members on the Masters programme. It was suggested that I should paint the walls of my prison cell to match the newly painted grey walls of the Triangle space. I was disappointed by such unaneasthetic comments regarding aesthetics; clearly ‘decorating’ gallery walls to a Decorex International Art Fair specification does not include ‘decorating’ the art work. There is tension and conflict between selling art work and artistic experimentation. The sight and beauty of raw material, its smell, feel, the juxtaposition of wood to metal, all made to a high standard, had evidently offended their senses. I held my tongue! Perseverance in the face of adversity!
Annabel Ludovici Gray