April 23, 2010

HOSPITALITY 2: Gradually This Overview


Two Sentence Description

Using the simplest possible materials (post-it notes, pens), PME-ART will warmly welcome each person who enters the gallery. Together we will examine the intersections between community, audience, data and real life.

Short Description

HOSPITALITY 2: Gradually This Overview blurs the lines between performance and installation. As you enter the gallery you are given a pad of post-it notes and asked a series of thought-provoking questions. The post-it notes with your answers are stuck onto the wall in a grid with all of the others. The members of PME-ART then attempt to understand something about everyone who enters the gallery by placing the post-it notes into categories. (Feel free to disagree with the categories your answers are put into.) By putting the answers into categories we’re trying to learn what we all have in common. To find out how we all are, and are not, a community. To achieve some sort of overview. However, because each of the answers we receive will likely be unique and complex, it will require our full creativity and humour to find categories that actually make sense. This is the challenge we have set for ourselves, an examination of the intersections between community, audience, data and real life.

Long Description

You have an appointment. You don’t understand precisely what the appointment is about but the person who randomly phoned was extremely charming, their ideas in and around hospitality seemed intriguing, and you have a bit of free time so, what the hell, you decide to take a chance and attend. The appointment is at the artist-run centre Articule so you suspect it will have something to do with art.

When you arrive at the gallery you are handed a pad of post-it notes and told you will be asked a series of questions (we are thinking of around six). You should answer these questions spontaneously. Your entire answer must fit on one post-it. Your answers will be anonymous. As you write down each of your answers, the post-it note is taken from you and placed on the wall. The entire gallery is covered in rows and rows of post-it’s, each one containing a single answer.

Soon you to are taken to the wall, to a specific section of the post-it note array, and you watch as post-it notes are rapidly removed from the rows and placed in smaller groupings, each grouping representing a ‘category’. You watch as your own answers are placed into different groups and listen to the explanations. You may also not agree with a category your answer is being placed within and you can certainly say so, discuss these decisions and how they are being made.

And yet as soon as one series of categories are established they are just as quickly undone, the post-it notes placed back in their original rows as the process begins again, as a completely different set of categories are tentatively set out. For example: answers that suggest ‘power comes from the self’, answers that suggest ‘power comes from working together with other people’ and answers that suggest ‘power is something we are subject to, that it comes from above’.

As this process of categorization and re-categorization is enacted, together the spectator and performers can think about how such processes are in many ways arbitrary, at the same time seeing whether or not they can also shed new light on the original questions, whether or not we can make interesting observations about the community of people who have agreed to partake in this experiment. Of course, as you watch, this process also makes you further consider your own approach to this very particular game.

This is just one of the ways people might experience PME-ART’s gallery-based project HOSPITALITY 2. We will also take the post-it notes out onto the streets, into cafes and restaurants, to parties, learning everything we can about the community of people willing to answer our questions. During the four-week span of the exhibition there will be events and discussions that will question and re-invent the project from different angles, culminating in a performance on the final evening in which we arrange and re-arrange the post-it notes in every possible combination, constantly explaining and re-imagining as we go.

HOSPITALITY 2: Gradually This Overview uses the simplest possible materials (post-it notes, pens) in order to examine certain intersections between community, audience, data and real life. But at the core of Gradually This Overview is a distinct paradox. On the one hand its questioning produces the widest possible range of responses, showing individuals in all of their personal eccentricity and diversity. On the other hand it attempts to categorize these answers into meaningful patterns, patterns that the extreme diversity of the answers constantly reject and defy. If we were simply to ask people ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions it would be very easy to turn their answers into data. We are definitely not choosing the easy route. Instead, we are much more interested in the paradox of seeing what happens when we allow the full diversity of human response to crash into our attempt to arrive at a meaningful overview of some kind of community.


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