Untitled [Summative Pole Performance]

Final full edited version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room. No sound editing.

Final full edited  version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room, edited to view both angles at the same time with a focus on the projections rather than my bodily movements.

Full, unedited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.

Full, edited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.

These screenshots are demonstrating the skill taken to perform on the pole, and shows the projections and shadows created during the performance. I enjoyed this performance, and felt confident with the way that it was presented.

Artist Statement

Much of the work presented looks at the manipulation of space and the movement of those within it. The Start Project concentrated on the traditional architecture of Yemen, a country that many fled from with their lives. The Forgotten War video highlights the elements of movement, while crushing and destroying the space. Following on from this, I studied my own life, focusing on the manipulation of space and movement. Pole Fitness allowed this manipulation, whilst bringing forth the idea of reactions and sensations for the viewer. The use of multiple screen while displaying Pole GoPro Experiments was inspired by John Akomfrah’s, The Unfinished Conversation (Akomfrah, 2012).
A larger manipulation of space led me to the work of Matthew Barney (Barney, 1992), who performs by mark-making an entire room, and the making of my own pole in the studio, along with Untitled Collection. Untitled Collection showcased the manipulation of space better within a small room, with three separate cameras capturing my body throughout the space.
Feminism and returning the male gaze, raised by Laura Mulvey (Mulvey, 1999) and Jacques Lacan (Lacan and Sheridan, 1977), were a heavy influence from here, as pole is associated with eroticism, strippers and impurity. Valie Export (Export, 1968) and her somewhat crude displays of returning the gaze inspired me to become more daring with my own body, movement and space to communicate ideas more clearly. Performances were produced with accompanying projections and audio. Immersing yourself into the environment of Pole Performance allowed the artwork to say something beyond the walls and created an overpowering space, much like No Crying in the Barbershop, by Pepón Osorio (Osorio, 1994).
Sound and voice were key aspects of Pole Performance; however, it was drowned out by other elements. By stripping the work down to audio, something more personal and powerful was created. Invisible sculptures were created when using two, three and four different speakers in both Feminist Poems and This Is What We Did Exhibition. The manipulation of space, and the movement of sound was inspired by Paul Purgas (Purgas, 2017) and Evan Ifekoya (Ifekoya, 2015). The theme of feminism was further highlighted when displaying with other feminist and identity-themed artworks in the exhibition.
During the progression of Feminist Poems, there was a need for further manipulation of the physical space using light and the pole. Heather Cassils in Becoming an Image, (Cassils, 2012) uses the camera flash to create an intense environment. Using strobe and UV lights on the pole, the audience are only able to gain small pieces of information, recreating intimacy and a physically overpowering space.
A glimpse of the performance creates moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.

Blog: www.charlotteabrahamart.wordpress.com

Akomfrah, J. (2012). The Unfinished Conversation. [Video] London: Tate Modern.
Barney, M. (1992). drawing restraint. [Performance and Video].
Cassils, H. (2012). Becoming an Image. [Performance].
Export, V. (1968). TAP and TOUCH Cinema. [Video (black and white, sound)] New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Ifekoya, E. (2015). Ebi Flo. [Video].
Lacan, J. and Sheridan, A. (1977). Écrits. 1st ed. London: Tavistock Publications Limited.
Mulvey, L. (1999). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In: L. Braudy and M. Cohen, ed., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. [online] New York: Oxford UP, pp.833-844. Available at: http://www.composingdigitalmedia.org/f15_mca/mca_reads/mulvey.pdf [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
Osorio, P. (1994). No Crying in the Barbershop. [Mixed media installation with barber’s chair, photographs, objects, and videos] Puerto Rico: Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Collection.
Purgas, P. (2017). Boiler Room. [Sound] London: Art Night.

Final Videos [Pole Performance Projections]

Because there were several elements that I did not enjoy within Pole Performance Videos, I decided to take action and change them. I wanted more dark spaces within the video, and better clarification of modern feminist marches and speeches. I also needed to add the black at the beginning of the end, to give myself time to enter and exit from the performance area. This was completed in the videos below, where I took the full audio that I were to use in the clip. I found that changing these elements allowed the clips to be more successful. When projecting them, I did notice that the UV clips were still very dark, however I enjoyed working in this slight illumination of the space – it continued the theme of having a glimpse of the performance, creating moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.

I then layered these on top of each other, to highlight further the elements used within the two videos, and how they interact with each other. By using this technique, I was able to determine that there was an even spread of different types of clips, including UV pole, spoken poem, and both old and new feminist clips, throughout the videos. It also allowed me to determine when the dark spaces were, allowing me to be prepared during the performance.

I then lastly added the audio that was to be used across four separate speakers. I preferred this outcome to the earlier videos that I rushed through while editing. I did notice, however, that the audio did not go across four speakers when setting up for the performance, but rather two. I found that this was for the better as four speakers may have been too overwhelming, but the two sets of speakers across from the room from each other still allowed for the interaction of audio.

Year 2 Spring Exhibition

The Spring Exhibition was a little controversial, as some believed that we should have not had this because of the minimal support we had over spring term, due to lecturers striking. The exhibition, however, went ahead. The poster we used [below] was created using the top titles the year group voted for, as many of them had the same number of votes, and was created by Clémence Muller.
I placed my sound piece in a room with several other pieces that looked at feminism, the body and identity. Instead of clashing with the artworks that were already in the room, I felt as though my sound piece enhanced them, and created an invisible sculpture in the spare space around the works. Although this connected the pieces within the room, I also felt that the room wasn’t particularly inviting. There was a piece that covered much of the door, and although there was a sign saying for people to duck in, many peered in and then moved on. This barrier meant that they were unable to listen to my piece and the impact it had on travelling around the room.
Within these, I also uploaded them to YouTube with images of my Pole Performance. I did this, as I found it links the movement that you can hear in the audio pieces, with that of the movement in the performance and in the accompanying videos. I also put these on for ease, as I wanted someone to listen to them, and to associate my previous feminist work with this audio. When showing these, however, I did not show the videos, but rather audio only, meaning that many people would not have this association, but they would still be able to grasp the concept.

Even though this had occurred, I still felt that the piece, and the curation of the room, as well as the exhibition as a whole, went very well. I was able to stand in the room for quite a while to listen to the piece. There was some unintended overlap of speech, however instead of sounding weird, it just sounded like an echo. This echo gave the perception that the space was louder than it was. The use of smaller speakers in the corners of the room gave the effect that no one was there, even though there was always a sound.

Pole Performance

I have to admit, I’d never imagined myself being a performer, let alone using projections, videos and performance on a pole. Setting up this room was a little annoying, as the pole itself took two weeks, and then there were difficulties with equipment. I did, however, enjoy performing to the studio group, and receiving their feedback for the presentation of the performance.
It was said that the set up of the performance worked well, in that you are always looking at something. This included the projections, myself performing and also the shadows that were created. There was also a drawback of this; even when it said ‘look at me’, some people found that they were too busy watching the videos to watch me, even if they wanted to.
The use of the blacked out room also made the performance more powerful, along with the spoken word. I did find, however that the black blackout material did not work as powerfully as the white walls, and thus people did not often see that there was a video on this wall. For my next performance, I may try out some of the different techniques of projecting that I tried in Untitled Collection Projections, in order to determine the consensus and the power of this.
My costume choice was also mentioned, as this was something that was rushed and a last minute decision. In my next performance, I would like to explore more my costume choice and how this may affect the power and speech of the performance itself. The power of the speech will also be improved through louder and more empowering speakers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this performance and the ideas and points of view that I was able to present within this performance. Below is two versions of the performance; one that I showed to my studio group and another that I created afterwards, in order to get a full edit from different angles. Below is also several film stills from the performance, used as documentation.


Tate Exchange

The Tate Exchange is a current workshop experience that is being run on the 5th floor at the Tate Modern, London. Working with ArtLab @ Tate Exchange, we ran workshops over two days with primary and secondary school children. By working as a co-researcher in the Artlab team, we were able to explore artists materials ‘from the clay that the dinosaurs walked on to building new experiences with 3D printers and green screen’.
Throughout the day, the students were taken through different ways of making, producing and thinking about artworks. Clay was used to create faces, and then hands using blindfolds and description. Creating a long piece of artwork that spanned the table was the most difficult challenge a many of the students had ideas that they wanted to execute, but found there was not enough time to do this in.
We also had the challenge of wrapping plastic, dyed in pink to raise awareness for breast cancer, around various objecting including balls, people, chairs, pillars and even on the windows. This allowed an extra level of creativity and thought in order to physically manifest the ideas in real life. A group of girls wrapped an exercise ball, and then themselves in a group attached to the ball. This did make it difficult for them to move, however they seemed very comfortable!
The last activity of these days was looking at green screen on iPad’s. Using a green screen app, we were able to make different colours the green screen e.g. yellow, to be able to see the image in the background. These images and videos were captured by the group, and layered using this app. Thirty second videos were created by over six groups and previewed by the group at the end of the session. Throughout this experience, I was able to assist the groups with their ideas, and creating their videos. I even participated in one, being a basketball hoop for a group who looked at ball games and participation.

The Start Project: The Forgotten War [Little Yemen]

The Forgotten War sculptural piece was simple, however the story behind it meant much more to me. I found this story more interesting than the piece, and wanted to show the destructiveness that the war has bought to the country, leaving a complete mess, rather than a serene moment. Through this, I decided to drip and pour paint over the piece, by using the colours that have been used on the Arabic text, and on the stained glass window designs.
The use of dripping and pouring paint over the architectural model shows how the beauty cannot always protect the city, inevitably letting war in. The layering of the images shows that it is not just one influence that has impacted on this country and their war, but rather multiple sources. The audio clip, The Forgotten War [Little Yemen Audio], has been cut down in order to give a better representation on how fast this can all impact an area.

The Start Project: The Forgotten War

The final piece that I have produced has been influenced by architectural models, and Layal Abdullah, of whose artwork I have been asked to reinterpret and respond. The final piece of The Start Project I have created is The Forgotten War. This is a small architectural model of the city Sana’a that has been destroyed during the Yemeni civil war. On each of the buildings is a symbol of beauty such as the classical stained glass windows, flowers that Abdullah has depicted throughout her artwork, and sacred Arabic text. This has been coupled with an audio clip, displayed on headphones, speaking of the beauty, and the destruction, that is currently in Yemen and the people.
I decided to copy the street layout of a part of Sana’a, trying to keep the buildings and road sizes to a certain ratio in order to gain the authenticity of Yemen. [Screenshots from Google Maps].
Google Earth YemenYemen FullYemen Zoomed

My own copy of the above city plan from Google Maps, Sana’a, Yemen.

The three aspects from Abdullah’s work that I wanted to bring into this project was the Arabic text, traditional Yemeni architecture and Yemen stained glass windows. To gain the vision of beautiful chaos, I decided to keep the individual designs large by using the whole piece of A3 paper.
The Arabic text was that of religious text, found on a ‘learn Arabic’ site. These have been placed together consecutively in order to fill the area. The text has been designed with black, blue, green and red, which are traditional for Arabic text.
The three designs of the stained glass windows have been copied from windows in Yemen, including the colour and design.
These pieces were then transformed into buildings and rubble, in the aim to attempt the beautiful chaos that is the Yemen culture and the war that is tearing it apart.

This architectural piece was accompanied by the sounds of Yemen in a three minute audio clip, presented with headphones, to make a more immersive experience for the viewer.. This audio clip was an accumulation of Yemen interviews with Mohammed, Yemen expert Natasha Ezrow and Saleh, news clips by the BBC, and music from Yemen.

The Start Project: Yemen

As of Tuesday 19th December, Yemen had experienced 1,000 days of civil war between forces loyal to the government of President Adbrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. During this period, more than 1000 people have been killed and 49000 injured, while more than 3 million have been displaced. 20 million people, including 11 million children, are also in need of humanitarian assistance and created the world’s largest food security emergency to date.

“Mr Hadi struggled to deal with a variety of problems, including attacks by al-Qaeda, a separatist movement in the south, the continuing loyalty of many military officers to Mr Saleh, as well as corruption, unemployment and food insecurity.” – BBC

Dynamics of the war changed when Ali Abdullah Saleh was killedOnly in December did cracks begin to appear in Mr Hadi’s forces, potentially sparking a fresh effort at end of war negotiations. At current, there have been no leads to whom will win this war, and where the steps taken after would lead the country.
Architecture has always been a large part of Yemen’s history and culture. Most of Yemen’s architecture boasts a non-repetitive design, which logically should look ugly, but in fact looks beautiful. There are similarities of colour, window patters, shape, alignment, positioning and size, but also a ‘rugged beauty’ that when mixed all together, these buildings hold. Many of the settlements, towns and cities are on hilltops and near a fertile bed, or a river. The buildings themselves are crafted out of mud brick, with some buildings reaching an impressive 100ft. The walls would be built thick, with small windows to keep the heat of the day out. Windows are also set low within the room with decorative niches above them, often where personal possessions are stored. As you gradually went up the building, these walls would become thinner. “These gently canted walls give the building a dignity and monumentality as a result of structural and materials concerns. The wall is not trying to look beautiful” (MisfitsArchitecture.com).

Stained glass windows are predominately found in the ancient city of Sana’a. These stained glass windows are known as ‘Qamariya’, or ‘windows of the moon’ and are virtually always used as a small decorative window above a main window. There are hundred of these throughout the city, but no two are the same. Qamariya windows we common much earlier than the ancient Greek and Byzantine cultures, with the main motifs of the crescent moon and star, which can still be seen in the windows today.

“At night, when they shine out of on the tall buildings and narrow stone alleyways of the old city, the Qamariya windows transform this old mountain fortress and its Afro-Arab people into a lively market town with an artistic and esthetic overlay. It is a calming experience just to walk the streets and take in the multicolor glows.” – Further To Fly

Arabic is the main language in Yemen, with many of its people following Islam. Yemeni Arabic in particular is a mix of different varieties of Arabic, commonly spoken in the geographical area. Each dialect can be found due to their own distinctive set of vocabulary and phonology. Arabic texts often talk about Allah, whom is their God.