Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects. (Flood) (2013)
Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects. (Fire) (2013)
Stones, bed headboard, shelving system and ink.
1m 50cm high x 60cm wide x 20cm deep
Based on a former version created in 2011, Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects exist as propositions for pieces of back-stage apparatus intended to allow actors to prepare themselves physically and psychologically for the carrying of imagined objects onstage. Despite their failure to describe the form of the object they are designated, through handling these stones in the wings of a theatre, actors could experience, and attempt to memorise, the weight of objects they are about to mime carrying out on stage, to feel the objects’ gravity within their bodies. But invariably this recollection of mass fades almost immediately as the object leaves the hand.
Beyond their proposed theatrical function these objects can also be seen as operating within any institutional or domestic setting; our daily performances with any of these bits of apparatus might also require the development of a heightened sense of how we engage ourselves bodily, and ground ourselves, with these objects’ real possibilities. The work also exists within the realm of science (or speculative) fiction whereby the original source objects have ceased to exist but are, through this ‘kit’, maintained within cultural consciousness as memories catalysed by name and a weight felt in relation to our bodies.
At Raven Row, London, these works operate as a pair, one with a theme of Flood and the other to be used for Fire, both sited in almost symmetrical, ‘mirrored’ spaces on either side of the building, both on the ground floor at the foot of staircases, in hallways leading out to the street. In both works a series of shelves made from sections of a bed headboard – as a sequence of theatrical acts or levels of subconsciousness – displays a number of stones of differing sizes, forms and type. Each of them is labelled with an object; eg for Flood: box of damp books, drenched bag, wet computer… etc, for Fire: burning jacket, smouldering desk, singed sculpture...etc. This list of damaged items is taken from an inventory of materials based in the gallery offices at Raven Row. The work proposes that visitors to Raven Row, or its staff, can prepare themselves, physically and mentally, for the drama of the safe evacuation of objects from the gallery’s office, perhaps out to the street in the case of a fire or up to the roof in the event of a flood. The Raven Row buildings were badly damaged by several fires in the past.
Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects (Fire and Flood versions) becomes a finale, or a ‘footnote’ to the narrative and architecture of this exhibition. Continuing the other works’ references to environmental collapse and displacement, this dyptich also opens up the possibility of an intimate interaction with the audience involving the experience of the lost but imagined object as held in the hands to counteract the remote and missing palm tree that initiates the exhibition.
Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects (Fire and Flood versions), is part of a series of works (including Desert Island , We are Sorry , The Quarantine Ship , Like This , Adaptation and Tropics of London ) in Chodzko’s major exhibition at Raven Row, London, We are Ready for Your Arrival , 2013, which unfolds as a series of events that arise from the apparent failure of a 60′ palm tree to arrive in time to be the central part of the exhibition.
The installation explores the materialisation, through objects, texts and images, of the processes of artistic creative production; its expectations, ambitions, coincidences, irrational leaps and failures. The manifestations of these experiences are then paralleled through their real and potential connections to environmental transformation and collapse.
In its proposed and imagined capacity to transform the (bodily) experience of the user – Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects offers almost the opposite physical sensations to Ghost. While Ghost offers a passive body an experience of lightness and fluidity, of gliding and floating through space, Props...slows the body, activating it, yet weighing it down with the physicality of ‘our baggage’ extending through our limbs and into our posture, movements and therefore our emotions.
An earlier version: Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects. (2011)