I am lucky to have been selected for Situation Leeds this May (based on funding and planning applications) and I am going to use this space to talk about how the project unfolds, the highs and lows and it's eventual success or complete disaster.
Having spoken to my local Arts Council England officer several times on the phone, and attended a workshop I submitted my Arts Council England proposal and also called up Leeds Council to talk through my requirements with the roaming Parks Officer.
When I eventually got through to him, he was unaware of the Project and the event as a whole, and after explaining the project to him there was a dull silence. “Is that Art” he said. This led to me entering into a 5 minute tirade of information about the relevance of Saint Sebastian to Christian Art, and the transposition of the subject to a Park in Leeds. He seemed relatively impressed. I hope the rest of the audience are as patient.
I arranged for a site visit with him, to coincide with the next ChatShow, an evening event at East Street Arts which allows all the artists involved to discuss their respective projects.
After 4 months of trying to find the right contact in order to realise the Project, I finally received a call out of the blue from the Parks and Countryside department, only to have their officer say he wouldn’t veto the project.
As calmly as possible I asked him what his problems were and he explained he was worried about the chains damaging the trees, and the work being left to be vandalised. I suggested another proposal, I had developed for a show in the Hague and asked him to give me 24 hours to think things over.
His phone call came three days before the deadline to get my information included in the accompanying Publication and literature, and less than a week before the submission of my Arts Council England application.
The new piece (which had evolved from the original “Great Deeds against the Dead” piece) is based on the character of Saint Sebastian, the Christian Saint who was martyred twice. I called up the Project co-ordinators Catherine Bertola and Sarah Warden to talk through the changes, which involve dragging a punch bag into Hyde Park, as part of a performance, tying it to a tree and piercing it with arrows.
With Catherine and Sarah, happy with the piece I called up the council and promised to remain with the sculpture for the length of the project, and not to damage the trees.
I have done a lot of research on Public Realm Art Projects and believe that Modernist Scuplture by claiming public space as museological space not only disrupted an established sense of place but demanded that the space be handled differently. Public squares that functioned as meeting places or short cuts through the city were reframed as spaces for stillness and introspection.
With my Sculpture "Great Deeds Against the Dead" I am trying to investigate a new kind of Public Sculpture that is enhanced by the viewers participation. The sculpture subverts the passive role required by an art object, by using three black punch bags hung from trees around Hyde Park.
The title references the infamous etching by Franciso Goya, of mutilated remains documented during the Spanish Peninsular War. I hope that the sculpture can become part of it's surroundings, rather than denying them by allowing the participants to enter into the Psychic drama and physically engage with Goya’s scenes of man’s inhumanity to man.