Tape Projects News & Events

Tape Projects Portraits @ Platform 20 Year Anniversary

A peerer and a glancer.

Many moons ago, when we were younger, prettier, and our coffers overflowed with the sweet public coin, Tape Projects put in an application for a big group show at Platform. That show ended up being Arab Telephone, an unwieldy, whole-space group show with a slightly complicated but unifying structure that allowed us all a window to play with, plus a few to offer to some friends and other artists.

The next year, when we were considerably less flush with cash, we were invited to do a 6 month residency at Frame, the dedicated video window right down the end, in the darkest recess of the subway. The timing of this was so perfect for us- we were in the process of developing 100 Proofs, but as yet had no funding, and no time to do anything else. It killed two birds with one stone: an opportunity to test work in progress over a period of time, and a series of public outcomes for TAPR which would be supported by someone else, while we were too flat out to organise and promote our own gigs.

That residency turned out to be a real life-line: when funding bodies wouldn’t have a bar of us, Platform (in the form of then-director Din Heagny) supported us by providing some space and a free hand to do whatever we wanted.  And it’s a challenging space. Those boxes always seem much smaller in your mind’s eye, and then you arrive for installation and they’re huuuugggeeeee. Showing moving image work  is particularly tricky, because its a thoroughfare, and many people don’t stop. But it’s these challenges that make it so exciting to work there- you are not in the perfect white cube of the gallery, you are (almost) in the gutter- competing against all the mundane distractions of the working day to get people to look at your art. It’s an excercise in thinking about site-specificity, and how to make a public space intimate. How to draw people in, or how to layer your work so that the glancers get something as they’re rushing past, as much as the peerers do when they stop and spend some time.

SO (all this is leading somewhere)- when we were asked to take part in their 20 year anniversary show, how could we say no? It was a somewhat short lead time, last-minute scratching mayhaps leading to our inclusion, but we were honoured nonetheless.

To build on the theme of the 20 year anniversary, we started with the idea of a retrospective of Tape Projects from the year 2030- imagining how our little ARI might look, and be thought of in 20 years time. This idea sort of morphed into the portraits project. We drew names out of a hat and each had to produce a portrait of another member of Tape Projects, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of the year 2030. And it had to be a collage. And it had to fit into a space 50cm x 80cm. Accompanying each portrait is a speculative blurb which projects 20 years into the future, and then looks back at the artists life and career over that time.

I’ll put it this way: they’re wacky.

The best thing about this collaborative project (apart from the awkward hilarity of sticking your fingers together with PVA) is that it was so much fun. It does have a bit of video in it (cos after all we are a TEMPORAL collective), but it was brilliant to get our hands dirty together and do something very hand-made, with crooked edges and finger smudges an all.

Ultimately, this is also the best thing about Platform: it’s fun. Its so unlikely to find contemporary art there in that dingy corridor under the station that it inspires a bit of madness in the artists showing. And you don’t feel there is a right or wrong way to do things at Platform- you feel free. It’s also inspiring that in 20 years, it hasn’t lost its rough edge, its DIY, make it up as you go along texture, which is a vital part of its appeal and success- as far as I’m concerned- in fostering new talent.

I bought a copy of “What Art? Which Public?” last night also, which I am looking forward to poring over. I know there are plenty of TAPR anecdotes to add to the list provided by Three Thousand recently, and expanded by Richard Holt in the book. We have been crime fighters, drunkards and subterranean, sunlight fearing art-moles in that space over the last couple of years. We are very proud of it.

 

Tape Projects Portraits -Life Studies from the year 2030
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Filed under: 2011, TAPR Artist Event, TAPR Documentation

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