You’re standing in a small parking lot. You’re being handed a photocopied sheet of paper. Handwritten in black marker, it lists twelve artists and areas of a car that have been assigned to them to respond to with a work in the Mark II exhibition. Air vents. Car keys. Ashtray, Maintenance, Hubcaps, Glove compartment. Rear window wiper. Sunscreen. Back seat. Stereo. Bumper.
You read the words on the sheet of paper and you look at the car. The car is a silver Nissan Micra, its ignition is on and its doors are open. It looks as if something debauched has happened and the owner ran away leaving the car as a recently deceased person leaves their home: all things intact and in mid-use as if they could be coming back any second to re-engage with the space. It’s like you’re part of a forensics team at the scene of a crime trying to determine what’s happened, or a voyeur that has come across an abandoned unlocked car in a parking lot, deciding to satiate your desire by looking deeply and maybe getting close enough to smell. You are the memory of the car and you are flashing back, revisiting every possible thing the car has ever experienced at once.
You begin to look for the objects in the car listed on the paper that now functions as a map. You’re in search of distinction as the art work seamlessly integrates into the car’s natural domain. A closer look is required to gain more insight into the curious narrative you’ve just stepped into. Perhaps these are some of the things organiser Harry Bix, whose choice of artist in relation to component parts seems carefully considered, wants us to feel.
The stereo spews self help. People in the car park are being told to “try ritual purification with wet wipes.” It’s speaking on behalf of Ulijona Odišarija who produces an eerie lo-fi mix tape called Revival 2015 that loops misshapen beats and chants, dedicated -isms that promise to change your life and make it better: “and if you need forgiveness in the present time just visualise that happening / do you want to party or cry? / Find that special place inside you where you feel no shame”.
Mary Vettise, assigned the car’s bumper, rebrands the Micra with her last name, “Vettise”, in cursive on its right side just above the silver “S” that denotes some special unknown attribute to the Micra. It’s a pun that doesn’t really make sense to most people; an inside joke as the artist says her last name is commonly misspelled “Vitesse”, which is french for ‘speed’ and often confused with the Rover make and model of the same name. The back seat of the car is full of cold medicine boxes and empty bottles of energy drinks left by James Lowne. A love letter rests on top of this pile explaining why he couldn’t be there. He is ill and sorry because he only thinks of you. Cristine Brache occupies a masculine object with feminine material by cutting a house key out of mother of pearl with the words “nothing but violence” engraved on it. The key hangs from the keychain, attached to the car key that powers the ignition.
The evening is comprised of three performances by Lea Collet and Marios Stamatis (maintenance) who dedicatedly wash the car, Sarah Boulton (air vents) reads poetry inside the car alone, leaving her audience with a powerful silence outside. They remain completely quiet, even though they can’t hear a thing. Boulton’s performance is, as she puts it, “fragrance-based”, challenging the audience’s expectations and desires by denying them access to her words, rendering herself mute. A few minutes into her reading people walk up to the car to put their ears near the window in an attempt to eavesdrop. Alex Carmichael concludes the evening by hotboxing the car in exaggerated form with a smoke bomb, fading it out of your voyeuristic gaze with the thick cloud. The stereo urges you to “say fast slowly”. You turn around and walk away but take this last mantra with you, whispering the word ‘fast’ very, very slowly. **
Exhibition photos, top-right.