28 October - 27 November 2005
The role of the work is like that of a phantom, both the time and space of which it speaks is tentative, and the physicality of it ever having existed is uncertain.*
The installation is composed of an accumulation of seemingly disparate components. On the floor of a moderately bare gallery sits a cardboard box, placed without any particular motive. The box contains double-sided tourist maps of the City of Sheffield. At first glance these maps seem to be the type freely distributed by Sheffield City Council to assist tourists in navigating the city and finding suitable accommodation. In actuality, however, they are flawless reproductions with the exception of a handful of newly added streets. These new streets are taken from maps made around 1810 and although they did once actually exist, they have since been erased from the city’s landscape to make way for large Modernist municipal buildings, as well as new post-war ring roads and roundabouts. The maps are free to take, and it is also the hope that in one way or another they will find their way into the reality of the everyday, meaning the possibility will exist for the deviations on the map to be discovered by the general public without a prior knowledge of the intervention or its history.
One wall of the exhibition space has been clad in what appears to be a patterned concrete relief, akin to what one would usually expect to find on the walls beneath a motorway underpass or on the exterior side of a civic building perhaps designed and built around the 70’s. It is in fact made from fiberglass and coloured and textured to look like a concrete cast. The wall not only exists as a backdrop for a sound piece that encompasses the room, but also as a stage or a set onto which a narrative can unfold. As a reconstruction of a facade; this fortification could not be more artificial.
* If you were given a copy of the novel ‘The War of the Worlds’ by H. G Wells, and asked to draw a floor plan of the cottage in Maybury in which the Narrator hides out from the Martians, I am almost certain that your interpretation of the text into a physical cognitive map of the house would differ greatly from mine; as it would from most other readers.
The same could be said of the main character’s appearance and that of his wife. It’s almost your duty and your pleasure as the reader to fill in these gaps, in some respects that is what makes reading different, to say watching a film, and in turn, that is what makes it yours.
This act of self-narration is humanely instinctive. Ok, now, you are given a backdrop. A façade of concrete cladding, its function is unfathomable.
You are given the city in which you stand, but the city is not as you know it, having taken an alternative trajectory through space and time, it is now far enough from your reality for you to have any idea of how the world will look and how your life will map out. You are given a proposition, to trade your knowing for your neighbours stillness.
Lastly you are given darkness.
Now the question is: What would you give in return?
Your Clumsiness is the Next Man’s Stealth was part of the Art Sheffield 05: Spectator T festival,
See www.artsheffield.org for further information
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