9 Jan 2013

Elbow Room/ Intercourse

This body of work for ‘Intercourse’ explores how documentation commemorates, changes or creates experience, with particular interest in the discrepancies between first and second-hand information. Collectively, lived experience is largely interpreted through an intermediate documentary source such as the media, or word of mouth. A document of an event is inevitably subjective, leaning in a particular direction as information is edited, emphasised and omitted, knowingly or otherwise. No one medium- be it photography, painting, text or sound- can ever be trusted to accurately represent an experience. It can only ever interpret, translate or refer. A document is always something else: an edit, a reconstruction. 

I am interested in the trust we put into the media to document the world around us. These investigations have led me down a number of lines of enquiry, with a developing interest in text and how context affects meaning.  One piece uses the introductory transcript of Orson Welles’ adaptation of the War of the Worlds for radioDeliberately timed so that its audience tuned in after a popular show on another channel was over, therefore missing the introduction of the broadcast as a radio play, the recording (allegedly) sent America into frenzy at the prospect of alien invasion. In other work I looked at historical events that were associated with iconic imagery. There are several conspiracy theories and accusations of the 1969 Moon Landing having been staged for political gain. The ink drawings are stills from a scene that supposedly proves this trickery. 

Experiences are remembered, retold, rewritten and repeated and so-called ‘facts’ are lost or obscured, strengthening the credibility of misinformation in the process. My brief was to ask the question, How can you document an experience? I have found myself exploring the ways in which creating a ‘true’ document is unattainable and perhaps in some cases, unnecessary. 


Intercourse is a project curated by Elbow Room, which investigates participatory practice.

Intercourse was first presented at Experimentica 1.1 festival in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff in 2011. The intention was that Intercourse would be an ongoing discussion with the outcomes and conversations generated by its presentation informing a future programme of events, artworks and dialogues.

This second phase was initiated to further develop Intercourse as a series of events in creative partnership with venues, organisations and artists. Through these we wish to explore in more detail the nature of participation, shared experience and interactive engagement. This will happen mainly through the process and realisation of projects by artists and artist groups who have public participation, engagement and interaction at the core of their practice. The project artists are Ania Bas, Freya Dooley, Tiff Oben and artist group B.R.G. 

Elbow Room is interested in the broad consideration of questions such as:

· Is there any intrinsic value of public engagement with visual art projects?
· What makes artists want to engage with their audience?
· Can any benefits of these projects be effectively and innovatively measured?
· Can these projects and experiences be effectively and creatively documented?
· What are the moral and ethical considerations when ‘manipulating’ an audience?
· Who is the audience and is it important to define authorship?

The project is structured in the form of a practice-led research group which will bring together the commissioned artists, Elbow Room, other collaborators and the public, each of whom will investigate a strand or area of the overarching themes through their practice. The project will be a series of events and interventions culminating in a seminar/event in Spring 2013. The event will place the outcomes of the artists’ research (possibly in the form of performance, presentations or other interventions) in dialogue with one another and with speakers from different professional fields that have a common or overlapping focus.

Elbow Room are a group of three creative practitioners based in Cardiff, whose aim is to provide the space, capacity and opportunity to make and experience art in public places. Working primarily with visual artists, our focus is to develop creative activity through a collaborative, open and engaged approach. We aim to advocate for and forward contemporary practice and thinking in the field of art in the public realm through projects that encourage exploratory approaches to the integration of art into 'everyday life'.