Liverpool Biennial
North West England

Cristina Lucas’ piece entitled Touch and Go was commissioned and displayed at the Liverpool Biennial 2010 – Touched. The piece consists of the Europleasure International building’s windows being either smashed or completely removed to create the message Touch and Go. There is also a single channel video projection displayed inside the derelict building, showing a fantasy creation of this message, the projection is displayed in a large room adjacent to a sprawl of rubble and debris, reflecting the outcome of the film shown. The images consist of a number of older generation, most likely working class, citizens rejoicing in the procedure of individually demolishing the buildings windows, there are ongoing themes of humour, jubilance and mischief. The audio track which is played over the film, a remixed version of The Beatles – Revolution, is very much conjoined with the emotions of the characters on screen. It follows their journey and carefully pairs its pitch, pace and tone to this, much like a popular culture feature length film.

The Europleasure international building is a dilapidated and derelict building on a typical Liverpudlian street, it stands without impact and is almost unnoticeable, yet a familiar sight to the elder generation of the city. Once a large corporation that signified wealth and a thriving economy, now stands blank and unoccupied reflecting today’s strikingly different financial climate. The words Touch and Go at first glance look unreadable and random, but on closer inspection they tell a story, carefully scribed into the interface of the building.

For me the art work conveys a clear narrative about many peoples’ stories and emotions towards our materialistic lifestyles and global capitalism. Both today and in the past. Cristina Lucas communicates this through the use of humour, playfulness and mischievousness to symbolise a more harmless revolt again these attributes. I think that the music works in favour to these themes as it contrasts between The Beatles song Revolution; a song about a serious political protest in 1968 against the Vietnam War. Yet it is edited to sound much like a fairground and becomes very light-hearted to make the whole piece seem softer and more childlike. The slow motion shots of people, both before and after they have broken a window, focuses your attention onto their facial expression. I feel that this is an important factor in the viewers ability to relate to the characters and share their delight and frolicsomeness throughout the piece. Another moment that captured my attention was when the father figure borrowed his child’s slingshot to break one of the windows, this reaffirms the softer image of this childlike naughtiness, and also emphasises that this older generation is having a rare chance to re-live their youth.

I particularly like the idea of this revolution involving a small community, a network of society working together to rebel. To me this is shown within the work by the appearance of groups of people, coming together to resist against societies forthcomings. I enjoy the fact that this revolution is not organised by a large society. The people shown in the video are not people you would expect to cause vandalism. They seem mild mannered and conventional members of the community. They relish the thrill of momentarily having a burst of freedom to express their emotions in capacities that everyday life does not provide. They allow themselves, if only for a short time, to revel in this guilty pleasure. The risk is an important factor which can change your perception of the characters shown, from well behaved citizens, to disobedient school children uprising against a small form of authority. To me this means that everybody has the ability to indulge in the delight of nonconformity, and that a form of underground subculture can win over the mainstream, if only for a burst of physical declaration, like the act of smashing a window.

Time is an important component within the video, entering the piece halfway through could reduce the impact of the overall piece, this is unfortunate as Christina Lucas has chosen not to include a running time on the label making you unaware of any time constraints put upon you. The work has a clear narrative, a defined beginning, middle and end. You feel as if you are being drawn into the sequence and being told a structured story, that if you leave before the end you would ‘miss the point’. I think this structure works in favour to the piece. Much like a historical documentation, it shows the Revolution in a well formulated and accurate manner, the pieces chronology is very realistic.

Once the rocks have been thrown – or any other method of breaking the window – there are slow motion shots from the other side of the glass showing the destruction it caused. This is a very aesthetic method of display, and I found it appealing to view. The music is also very different, much less complex, of a slower pace and in more of a sinister tone,. To me this reflects the other side of the fence, not just the protesters, but the protested against. You can clearly view the fragments of broken glass plummeting to the floor, reminding you that although the light-hearted theme of the piece remains, damage has still been caused by the frivolous behaviour. To me these images and the previous combined, reflect the title perfectly. Touch and Go, by dictionary definition means; ‘(an outcome, especially one that is desired) possible but very uncertain’. Although through the efforts of the people, damage has been caused, only to the point of breaking an abandoned buildings windows. Granted a statement; yet much short of a Revolution.