The artist collective to which I belong, alldaybreakfast, were invited to re-stage Holy Souls at the Fringe Arts Bath Festival. Its a huge event including music, performance and visual arts and takes place over two weeks all over Bath. We are five artists involved in alldaybreakfast: Tommy Cha, Carol Laidler, Pat Jamieson and Bernard Fairhurst, all of whom contributed artworks and building skills to the final installation.
We were give a wonderful labyrinthine basement which included a large waiting room and corridors. We collaboratively created an environment, the waiting room is similar to the previous one but beyond this the exhibition has grown and changed; for the better.
Viewers descend a wide staircase into this space clothed in plastic, lit in blue.
They are invited to take a seat, take their time and think about which of the three possible doors, all marked ‘Enter’, to go through first. In the background plays a badly reproduced, tinny bossa nova. Quiet but insistent; strangely not annoying, the girl from Ipenima keeps her measured pace. Some people enter the spirit and sit, slow down, then choose a door.
Beyond the doors is an abandoned space, timeless, purgatorial, artefacts are to be found here and there on walls on shelves, as though abandoned.
Enter a door, seek what is to be found – a narrow corridor.
Souvenir postcards from Atlanta Airport – sine qua non of non-places. Famous for being a huge hub; change here though a direct flight would be shorter and quicker; there are no direct flights. Famous for delays due to the weather. Famous for the old joke; when you die, whether you are going to heaven or hell, you will have to change in Atlanta…
Postcards from someone at the end of their tether. Might one not go mad held in departure lounges, no means of escape, nowhere to escape to? A re-visit to Huis Clos.
A typewriter with a Kerouac quote, he too is feeling lost and displaced.
A video which keeps breaking up; a woman sits behind a door, it feels like voyeurism.
More shelving in the dusty, abandoned corridors.
A pair of card index boxes; old, used filing cards stamped ‘Did’ and ‘Didn’t.
An eye which could almost still be living, let into a box.
What is to be seen through that eye? A view into a hidden room, something forbidden?
But where is it looking- through the wall?
Another door another view. Nice, multicoloured biscuits spread across the wall.
Dow the corridor and around the corner, another image. This time huge.
Too big for the space it hangs cramped and awkward. A background
of concrete with a dustbin.
The last door reveals another wall and another corridor, brighter this time. On the wall twin frames, emergency drill, evacuation routes? They have been there so long they have become part of the wall; invisible.
Closer inspections shows a plan labeled with circles – the inferno – hell.
The next wall bears evidence of stuff removed; the path leads back, surroundings look familiar, perhaps.
Tatty posters bemoan the loss of Youth and Beauty as Thomas the Tank engine is dragged backwards into oblivion.
In a small wooden frame a film seems hauntingly to reflect that mood.
In the darkness ugly shapes collapse on shelves.
Near by boys are in evidence.
All memories of youth and beauty; best forgotten?
Around the corner in a secret hidey hole another video, young people confidently and thoughtfully evaluate their lives. Youth and beauty incarnate.
But frustration and anger are expressed in the wrecked dressing table on the shelf below. A grimy towel, rubbish and more strange rubber on the floor.
The stickers say ‘Save’, one has ‘me’ added in pen. In the box a bank bag for silver…