Photo courtesy of JanJan and Soi Project
I went to Ikon Eastside last Friday for a guided tour of Soi Project, Island shortly before it closed. According to the guide, the artists wanted to find out how much time viewers were prepared to ‘waste’ on this artwork.
In my case, when I went to the Launch Night, it was about 2 minutes. No-one told me that the lighting over the three-dimensional island changed from daylight to pitch black over 24 minutes, with one minute marking an hour. I arrived at ‘night-time’, declared, “I can’t see a fucking thing,” and went home.
So I’m glad Created in Birmingham persuaded me to give the piece a second chance. I felt I got a lot more seeing it at the tail-end of its showing, rather than the beginning, because it was viewers’ reactions to it that made it.
Visitors were given one sheet of stickers each upon entry to attach to the island, of buildings, swimming pools, beach umbrellas, animals and billboards. The strict sticker rationing meant creating something sizeable called for collaboration – the billboard pleading for a jungle which was duly surrounded by others’ elephants and trees was particularly touching. It also left peoples’ projects wide open to sabotage by the more mischievous.
However the best additions weren’t those using the stickers, but the spaces around them cut for some totally new creations. Someone’s reproduction of the Cerne Abbas Giant was pure genius.
Apparently the artists were just as interested in these unexpected reactions as they were to the ones more prescribed. Which leaves me wondering why the gallery worker stopped my flatmate’s insertion of a new island made of scrunched up stickers near the entrance, saying people would stumble on it. I very much doubt someone could do themselves serious damage with a small sticky ball.
According to the girl leading the tour, the Ikon are hoping the interactive Island will help Ikon Eastside achieve their aim of moving away from the formal, ‘don’t touch’ atmosphere of the Ikon Gallery to a more open, participatory space.
The next exhibition by Mexican art collective Tercerunquinto I Am What I Am opens on the 10th July. I’m told it’s to be some sort of statement on the regeneration of Eastside, possibly related to similar built environments back home in Mexico.