Ants Choose Position for Sequins – 2 Seconds Interval (2003)
[ from ‘Design for a Carnival’]
40” x 60” (101.6cm x 152.4cm)
Ants Choose Positions for Sequins is made up of two photographs of ants moving sequins around their ant hill. There is a two second interval between the two images and the image on the right is also reversed. Together they look mirrored and appear to form a kind of mask. On close inspection, what appeared to be symmetrical, contains differences in the positions of the ants between the two images. As part of Chodzko’s broader project, Design for a Carnival, Ants Choose Positions for Sequins determines a decision making process (made by ants) that is integral for the preparation of an element of the carnivalesque event. The sequin positions, selected by the ants, could therefore become transferred to a ritualistic costume, or, something more expansive, perhaps they map out the location of sound-systems within a landscape, or maybe they refer to a sequence of moods or atmospheres that are to be experienced over the duration of the event?
Like many of Chodzko’s works before Ants Choose Positions for Sequins, (eg: Plan for a Spell ), or since (eg: O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix), the work involves a process whereby specific ingredients, if assembled in the correct order, have the apparent capacity to create a revelation, the artwork hovering in the space of this potential. It also identifies a powerful or magickal patch of earth (eg: cell-a (2002), Settlement (2004), Sowmat (2007) and A Hostile Environment (2019) etc). Like Better Scenery (2000 – ), Plan for a Parade with Two Masks (2004), Because… (2013) and O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix (2020) etc, the work operates in the vibrating space between two apparently disconnected sites apparently communicating with each other.
Design for a Carnival, 2003, is an evolving project. It exists as a series of videos, re-mixed music, billboard projects, drawings, large scale public art works and small ephemeral events which collectively propose an entirely new form of festival – a model for a community to engage with each other in a way which is full of play and disorder, free from commerce, words, reason, and fixed hierarchies or identities. But this is a community which is heterogenous – its identity apparently rooted in the ‘local’ yet networked internationally as the carnival migrates across a number of spaces and times:
Lace-making catalyses a new method of DJ-ing; A large billboard sign in Turin announces a meeting in a hotel bar in Haiti; Local teenagers destroy and carefully reconstruct a woodland sapling; Ants prepare a constellation of sparkling sequins on their ant hill; Baseball caps are burned on pyres; A collaboration, with fashion designer Jonathan Saunders, will see a colossal dress specially tailored to ‘garland’ an 80ft high wind turbine. Clothes are swapped between countries and micro-parades are mapped out to vacillate between places 100’s of miles apart.
To document the carnival an elaborate structure made of bones and telephone cable is created as a camera filter, the resulting images acting as a mask for its audience and subject. Together, the outline of an event is being suggested, a tentative sketch, ambiguous, dark, excessive and joyful, far from the safety of the contemporary, commodified, urban street festival. But is everything Chodzko shows us in Design for a Carnival preparation for the carnival’s future existence? Or is what we see the carnival itself; a carnival of preparation, of speculation, allusions and ideas, taking place here in the gallery itself, between object and audience?
A Hostile Environment (2019)
A Plan for the Perfect Night (1992)
Ask the Dust (2016)
Better Scenery (2000 – )
O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix [live] (2020)
O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix (2020)