helen press new

Auditorium

2005, 8′
SD Video projection

 

This is a piece conceived and executed as a site specific installation, purposely made for the exhibition ‘Les Merveilles du Monde’ at the Musée National de Beaux Arts de la Ville de Dun- kerque. The Musée is a 1960’s Modernist edifice of concrete and glass, the interior of which has not been altered since it’s construction, featuring aerodynamic staircases and miles of lou- vered blinds. The Auditorium is also intact and beautiful with bitter chocolate coloured sound proofed walls and rows of sticky caramel bucket seats in the style of Charles and Ray Eames. This sensual interior is the set for the film and the set for the performance of watching the film, a performance created by the viewer.

The film is constructed as a series of frames within frames, heightening the viewer’s awareness of the relationship between audience and performance. Because it represents the space that the viewer is sitting in, the viewing experience itself falls into a mise en abyme. The sound of the slide projector (which is shown before the title) punctuates the edit of the film throughout and adds emphasis to the still images that establish the ‘set’ and define the limits and func- tion of the real space. These apparently still images of the interior décor; the discussion table on the small stage, the speakers and lighting fixtures, the microphone waiting for a voice, the inert, expectant, empty seats seen from the front of the room, are interrupted by the appear- ance of a walking figure. The sound of the slides changing serves to literally insert new images, and characters, without introduction, into the set.

The primary character, a tanned young woman in tennis gear, hallucinates a host of others into the room, other audience members, although when the camera pans to take in the room she is seen to be alone. The characters could be co-existent, the edit implies that they are, but they could equally be each other’s fantasies, or ghosts who inhabit the space but not the time of the auditorium. She sees a scantily clad black woman with a voluptuous figure sit on the discussion table and rock slowly from side to side, and this triggers a variety of subtly erotic actions from her fellows. These actions consist of gestures and glances often exchanged flirtatiously in the restrained conditions of a lecture theatre, museum or library. Although her appearance plays with the expected notions of exotic eroticism, the black woman does not perform, she has her back to the audience and retains a rather severe mystery and power, she personifies the sexual charge in the still air and it is the audience members who perform in response to her presence. The choreography of the ‘audience’ is at one with the movement in the design of the seating and the chiaroscuro of the sound proofed walls, they have been brought into the space by the space itself.

 

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Claire Hooper

1978. Lives and works in London, UK.

 

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Hollybush Gardens

Hollybush Gardens opened in 2005, in Bethnal Green, London. We represent Johanna Billing, Andrea Büttner, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Karl Holmqvist, Claire Hooper, Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Benoît Maire, Eline McGeorge, Bruno Pacheco, Falke Pisano and Ruth Proctor. Other projects include What is to be said?, utilising the program at Hollybush Gardens as a point of departure to approach critical thinking through different artistic practices including film, performance and text.

 

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