Design for a Carnival (2003)
House 1: ants organise sequins
House 2: lace making for vinyl
House 3: tree smash/fix
Single screen video with sound. 4:3
Design for a Carnival as low res version for Vimeo.
Design for a Carnival, as video, is part of the broader multi-media project Design for a Carnival and shows the operations of 3 ‘houses’ involved in preparing for the event. House 1: ants organise sequins, House 2: lace making for vinyl, House 3: tree smash/fix work collectively as part of a ritualistic system of decoration and preparation across forms of making that vary across the skilled, traditional, youth cultural, amateur, violent, delicate, to the absurd.
Bobbin lace-making prepares a ‘doily’ which, once made, sits on a vinyl 12″ version of A Certain Ratio‘s Winter Hill (1981), eventually snagging the stylus so that song grinds to an abrupt stop. The music gives a rhythm to the lace making, the movement of ants on an ant hill and to the activities of three teenagers (Jasmine, Liam and Lance – Chodzko’s next door neighbours) who break up a sapling in a forest then carefully fix it with coloured cable ties and electrical tape. The ants movement of coloured sequins around their hill determines the positions of the colours on the modified tree. Or perhaps it’s vice versa, or both?
It is a form of preparation that is partly rooted in the familiar and yet has fostered unusual relationships as though following a different form of reality.
About Design for a Carnival as a body of work:
Design for a Carnival 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?