wood, OSB (oriented strand board), aluminium angle, screws, coach screws, glue
An ongoing project investigating the ‘site’ of making as represented by a single 14.4m bench, cut into eight separate sections that are loaned to eight users for a year and then reunited bearing the stories of their usage.
STAGE 1 (complete)
From my research into making as a universal defining human preoccupation, I consider a bench as a literal and figurative site of making and repair (the woodworker’s workbench, the surgeon’s operating table, the ephemeral space between two reconciling lovers), while recognising that every person defines their own workspace, be it physical e.g. a desk, or metaphysical e.g. online.
As artist in residence at & Model Gallery in Leeds in 2016, I made a 14.4m long wooden bench within the gallery occupying the entire ground floor and functioning as a shared social workspace. At the conclusion of the residency, as a live performance it was cut into eight separate 1.8m sections – a standard bench dimension based on the ergonomics of a single-user workspace*.
Starting as a shared, unified social making-space/site, the division of the single bench into 8 relates to the specialisation of labour that occurred as a result of industrialisation.
* derived from my arm span and reach – 1.8m and 0.9m respectively, thus ensuring that the whole surface of the bench is reachable without having to change standing or sitting position.
This stage of the project was supported by Arts Council England Grants for The Arts.
Special thanks to & Model Gallery for generosity, opportunity and critique.
STAGE 2 (in progress)
The 8 benches will be distributed to 8 separate hosts, on a loan basis for a period of not less than one year, during which time they are to be used as a quotidian, utilitarian object like any other and not given ‘special’ consideration as an art object.
The benches are made from industry standard materials that, though resilient, will serve as a recorder of the marks & scars of use, telling the story of making as a type of drawing.
Potential hosts include arts organisations, artist studios, schools & universities, manufacturers and community/not-for-profit groups. Selections will represent a diverse range of users, activities and potential for discourse.
The beginning and end of each custodianship will be marked by a public talk & workshop, where people’s experience and relationship to concepts of ‘making’ will be shared and discussed.
At the end of the custodianships, the benches will be brought back together to create an exhibition with images, textual & audio-visual documentation gathered during the project. This will exhibition will then tour to galleries and other locations.
STAGE 3 (forthcoming)
The project format will be developed as a distributable methodology so that it may be undertaken independently anywhere in the world, such that the concept may be used to record and explore experiences
- Dimensions: 1440 x 93 x 90
- Contexts: Practice-based research , Project , Research , Residency , Socially Engaged
- Artforms: Installation , Live art , Performance , Sculpture
- Tags: sculpture, bench, installation, performance, repair, distributed art, participation, research, relational aesthetics, object as site