Pulse Fringe: Blue Screen
Blue Screen Concealing Two Artists (1937), New Wolsey Studio, Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 June
Pulse Fringe: Blue Screen Concealing Two Artists (1937), New Wolsey Studio, Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 June
Weitz and Muller, two Colchester based conceptual performance artists brought to the New Wolsey Studios their exploration of society's artistic perception through the live canvas of a minimal blue sheet and pegs.
Through this highly abstract, slow moving piece of performance, the “minimal” audience was allowed time to reflect on the creation of a masterpiece - Picasso's Guernica - and what indeed it means to be and create art.
A large blue sheet covers the majority of the width of the stage, concealing the two artists leaving only the legs, feet and illuminated pile of pegs visible. Without music or narration, silence commands the piece's full attention, commencing with the simple pinching of cotton fabric and securing with peg. This is followed by more pinching and pegging, and yet more pinching and pegging. Forty minutes later, after much systematic peg dropping, and line rearrangement, we reach the climax, revealing rather impressively the key features of Picasso's Guernica.
From nonsense to masterpiece, Weitz and Muller aim to deconstruct the artistic process, in which every line of construction is crucial and deeply personal. Albeit their method is original and tranquil - though bordering on tranquilising. As an audience we are very aware of the faceless silhouettes behind the sheets, and the matrix of shadows that reverberate as the light shifts, transforming the sheet from domestic utility to artists' canvas. One is reminded that a piece devoid of narration, music and painfully in need of explanation provokes the ultimate question of; what is art? Indeed is modern art truly art if it needs explanation? Most importantly, when reduced to pegs on a sheet, is Picasso's masterpiece robbed of its artistic value in some way?
While these questions are skilfully explored, the irony is that the audience is left questioning whether what they had just witnessed constituted art, or whether it was simply a discussion point resulting from pegs on a sheet.
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Although, without a doubt the lighting and exposure of this piece was inspired, it was none the less dulled by the narcotic pace and air of pretension that pervaded the work.
Daisy Turner and Anna-Lena Gerrard Hughes.