Monday, 8 November 2010

touch village

Touch Village was an evening of performances that took place in the A Foundation on the 9th October 2010.  The pieces were explorations of the themes of intimacy and human contact. The piece above, by Heather Jones, was a plain cardboard box that sat in the room from the beginning until the end of the exhibition. After a while fingers, toes, and other body parts started to emerge from the box, which viewers were encouraged to interact with. I felt slightly uncomfortable touching a mystery finger, and couldn't fathom interacting with a mystery toe, which is the main thing I learnt from the artwork. Jones explains on her website that the work is "a playful piece about the higgledy-piggledy in relationships," and it was surprisingly, (and quite uncomfortably) intimate.

The piece I thought was most affecting was a sensory artwork by Lynn Lu. The viewer would participate in the artwork first by taking Lu's hand from behind a curtain as an "invitation" to the work, and would then sit in a chair alone and experience it with their eyes closed. The experience is very hard to describe, but Lu was giving the viewer various sensations of warmth, sound, smell and movement from actions performed around the "blind" viewer. It was an unusual sort of intimacy that invited a very subjective response. Some of the people who I experienced the work with described it as very relaxing, while others found it uncomfortable because of its inherent sensuality. I felt the work was quite a serene escape from some of the more probing artworks on show.

I watched a number of the other artworks, including a piece where viewers were invited by a female artist into a small box and then blindfolded. Their hands were massaged and cleaned, then they were led into another chamber where a man who they could not see would take their hands and vigorously massage his face with them. They were filmed inside, and this would be projected for people outside to watch. Although this work would have been a surprising and novel experience, there was nothing really surprising in what it uncovered. I talked to people after they took part in it, and the universal opinion was, of course, that they hadn't enjoyed unexpectedly touching a man's face.

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