Due to the pandemic, an exhibition of our work at Public Space One in Iowa City had to be postponed. Scheduled to coincide with the run up to the US Election, we had planned to make illusions and installations that draw attention to social and economic inequality in the US, reminding visitors that elections provide them with an opportunity to support or reject the socio-economic policies of the current government. Fortunately, the gallery team offered us the opportunity to present some work outside the gallery, as part of Iowa City Downtown Gallery Walk. We produced a transatlantic zoom performance video and a sculptural installation, both of which are on display outside the gallery until the election.
Iowa City, IA — Public Space One is pleased to announce its October 2020 gallery exhibition, Dancing For Good, by Hard Stop (a transatlantic art duo composed of Davin Watne & Dawn Woolley). The exhibition will run from Oct. 2 through Nov. 3 (and the US election), on site at Public Space One (229 N. Gilbert St. Iowa City, IA).
The exhibition comprises two pieces. The most noticeable: 2 Inflatable Air-dancers, 2020, are located on the front lawn of the PS1 house and will be hard to miss. Air-dancers assume the form of the popular promotional tool for retail outlets, comically flapping around to draw the attention of passersby and beckon them towards the products or services that they promote. These Air-dancers are emblazoned with a national call to work together and turn the page on a difficult time. They flap pathetically, yet with hope, outside the gallery, creating a conflicting feeling of political possibility and potential absurdity.
Exercise Your Rights is a two-channel video installation (22min) that will play on loop in the gallery window (accessible outside, during gallery hours, from the front porch of PS1). This work is a tongue-in-cheek exercise video demonstrating a series of exercises dutifully carried out over a Zoom call between the UK and the US, to “evoke a positive experience in electoral democracy.”
Dates & hours on view:
Oct 2-Nov 3, 2020
Sun 1-3pLivestream (virtual reception): A closing reception and interview via Instagram live with the artists toward the end of Oct. Date and time TBA. Check the PS1 website (publicspaceone.com) or Instagram (@p_s_won) for updates.
In December I joined Davin on a residency at Wassaic Project in Wassaic, a small Hamlet upstate in New York. Wassaic Project comprises two sites for studios and project spaces in a disused mill and a disused auction mart, and a number of residential buildings that house artists all year round. Davin and I had been experimenting with optical illusions and how they could be employed as metaphors for media distortions and political biases.
Dreamers by Dawn Woolley and Davin Watne, 2018
The text refers to the “Windrush” and “Dreamers” communities in the UK and the US respectively, whose citizenship has been under threat of revocation by current ruling governments.
The use of optical illusions demonstrates the fugitive nature of truth, by aligning the inherent biases in human visual perception with implicit social, political and racial biases in our news media.
The text is installed to replicate a visual distortion illusion in which the segments of different colour text trigger a visual stimulus that is misinterpreted by the brain, leading to the perception that the columns of text and curved.The illusion a of crooked line signifies a broken promise to the Windrush and Dreamers communities.
The residency offered us the opportunity to produce a large scale optical illusion installation and test how well the illusions translate from the page / screen to the wall.
We were extremely please with the outcome, which spanned three walls of a room in the mill, and received very positive feedback during an open studio event on Saturday 15th December. The installation was also included in a group exhibition of residents the following weekend.
The residency and installation were produced with the support of Leeds Arts University and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.