The Bath Tour of All Tours, from 2014, will resurface shortly in the form of a piece of work in the exhibition Embodied Cartographies. It's been good to revisit the texts and to reassemble the performance within another medium. The exhibition is looking at artists' walking projects and it will include some live events too. Venue: FaB at Walcot Chapel, Walcot Gate BA1 5UG
10am to 6pm Sat 27 May to Sat 10 June 10am to 3pm Sun 11 June
I was recently invited to contribute to a programme of talks and interventions in London organised by Something Other on the theme of migration. My perspective on this is an unusual one as I am a British artist living in exile, and not self-imposed exile as most assume, but genuine exile as I was not allowed to live with my wife in the UK under new visa rules. This was the basic angle, along with what I have found in China and the role of borders and artistic interventions I was asked to explore through three questions posed by curator Alessandra Cianetti (Performing Borders).
Following an excellent suggestion of hers, I took the the streets, and malls, of Nanjing city centre. Using just my phone's video it was possible to get some pretty usable results.
Walking around the same territory that I am currently staking out for my Adam Smith audio tour, it felt like a very natural format. What's more, nobody seemed to trouble me, since a person speaking into a phone is such a common sight it could be assumed to be a video call or a selfie session.
I've often struggled to find a way to record video of the tour type performances I have been making as they simply don't lend themselves to the camera. You really have to be there and to take in the multiplicity of the place. With this format, however, the commentary does at least return to sender stage and the intimacy that the phone provides allows some quite revealing moments too, like this daft one above. I think it is safe to say there are going to be more videos like this in the future: Watch This Space!
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be giving some workshops and co-creating a performance next month in Hong Kong.
The workshop, called The Veiled City, will take place on the 19th and 20th April and it is organised by CCCD. It will be a practical workshop on how to interact with the city to discover more about it. It is called The Veiled City because I believe most of the city's potential escapes up most of the time. While it is not literally put under wraps like a Christo artwork, it is dormant most of the time and requires specific actions performed by the right people for it to be activated. We cannot completely change our identity but we can transform it and we can change our purpose very greatly. We'll find some ways to look more closely and interact with people and places in order to see a little more.
Hyper Heritage (Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, Sunday 23rd April) is a performance I'm making with postgraduate students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong for the festival Saving The Past For The Future. We are looking at the surrounding neighbourhood and its representation within Hong Kong cinema. This is heritage in the sense that it is a collection of stories drawn from and projected onto the neighbourhood, the city and its people. These stories, told over the last century about intrigues stretching back into ancient times and events in a not yet seen future, are fictions that have not just reflected different realities but have also helped shape our sense of it. What are the sources of today's myths? How much is today's Shek Kip Mei a fiction with reality intruding into it? What would the film of films of the area look like? Join us for a Hyper Heritage tour and see.
I recently wrote about tours whose contents are disconnected from or only loosely connected to their geography. I followed this observation up today with an experiment. The idea was, to make an audio tour that is based upon a text from one time and space and to inscribe it, through precise spoken word directions, onto an entirely new context. In practice this became, how does Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations sound when listened to in a Chinese shopping district.
The results were quite interesting. Unlike most tours, the content is not primarily delivered during stops but rather it flows as you walk along and you have to make the connections yourself. This means that some parts of the text work better than others: the parts where there are links to be made. The choice of route is important too as it can both contextualise the ideas and, potentially, comment upon them. Too deliberate a route and text may feel contrived i.e. listening to Das Kapital while circling the New York Stock Exchange, but too random a combination also has its pitfalls: you might wonder why you are listening to Madame Bovary while walking through a zoo.
What is quite certain is that this is an area ripe for working in. I've taken book study tours before such as a Machiavelli Tour in Central London where we listened to and debated his ideas as we walked, but this is something different again. A more acerbic but entertaining tour of the mall would have been provided by Arthur Smith's 1894 Chinese Characteristics but Baudrillard's Simulations could work equally well. Hmm. I will be busy!