This the broad title I have
given to the first part of my research which will look at two familiar
places and try to arrive at a theatrical way to express them. Most
importantly I am trying to get this idea of a space having a readable
'memory', in other words that you as an audience can project forward or
backwards in time to what has happened (narrative) or is about to
happen from the implications of the space and the relationship to
performers within it.
I will start with a hotel room.
hotel rooms I have been in do forget. They are designed especially so
that you don't know what has happened before you enter. So this will be
my challenge, to portray a hotel room that both holds the memory of
what has been and implies what will come.
So how to do that? I have a starting point and two approaches.
1 Slideshow of my holiday in Luxembourg
will be a set of stills set in a hotel room, using a bunch of reference
points. I have always been seduced by the images of Jeff Walls, partly
because of his deliberate reference to classical composition but mostly
because he manages to evoke this eerie sense of vertical time in his
Without illustrating it he implies the past and the future in a
loaded present. Gregory Crewdson has a bunch of photos a bit like this
too but I'm not sure that I'm not more seduced by the scale and epic
film-like quality of the production here. Certainly there is an
overwhelming sense of mood. I am reminded of some of the work I've been
introduced to from the work of Michael Checkov where the actor projects
light and space with the intention of their body. Similarly some work
with a friend recently back from Min Tinaka's farm in Japan worked with
this very focused projection of oneself. I feel like these could be
very effectively linked to each other. The other reference point is of
course Bruce Nauman (and many other video artists) who filmed
themselves standing in different parts of an empty room.
This is an early photograph by Jeff Walls, where he reconstructed a bedroom following the compositional template of a painting by Delacroix (below).
these reference points I will make an artificial hotel room and explore
bringing these techniques of projection, mood and narrative together.
second part of this project will be an improvised offshoot using the
same hotel room to role-play a fantasy of what happens in a hotel.
Whenever I go into a hotel room I wonder about who has had sex in
there, there's never any evidence of it but it for some reason screams
out at me, I thought maybe this was a juvenile response to hotel rooms
that I would get over, but now having stayed in at least a hundred
hotels (it would be interesting to try to count them one day) I still
haven't grown out of it. So this part of the project will take an
illicit meeting of two strangers from a well known movie and will be
played out by as many different people as I can co-opt into playing the
parts. I will have costumes and wigs and the original scene on hand for
the players to use and then it will be entirely up to them to play it
out. I'm still looking for the scene to use, I had wanted to use Blue
Velvet but there is a problem with the third character being stuck in
the cupboard and also the blatant misogyny might not hold the same
interest for women to play. I'm reading a book called Living Dolls, The
Return of Sexism at the moment and while I don't think David Lynch is
reinforcing sexual stereotypes, it's hard to ignore that the scene in
Blue Velvet is all about victimisation.
Cindy Sherman from her Untitled Film series in the 70s. She plays a film actress with all the photographic support but with a complicit knowledge from the viewer.
Sophie Calle, the ultimate snoop. She photographs a series of hotel rooms, posing as a hotel cleaner, which allows her access to the room when the guest is not around. She documents through their absence a kind of portrait of each guest. I am very compelled by the work of Sophie Calle that I have seen, she thoroughly mixes the personal with the public.