I am joined for an interview with artist Collette Rayner.
Collette has a solo show opening at The Normalville Contemporary Art Centre next month. Could start by giving us a brief preview into the works you will be showing?
The work requires the visitors to register a few days before attending the exhibtion and select a date and time that suit them (think Lindsay Seers, Entangled 2 at Matts Gallery, London in 2013). The gallery will contact them twice before their arrival to make sure they are aware of when to arrive and to wear easily removable footwear. Each person who is registered is assigned a partner that will enter and leave the gallery with (The two visitors won’t know each other, but ideally they should indetify with the gender of each other’s desired sexual preference.) This is an important part of the work, as my practice places a lot of emphasis on the term ‘other half’ and existing in a union. There is a sculptural component which draws reference from architectural models and hobbyist model rail layouts which they visitors are invited to sit within. The duration is only quarter of an hour. At different points six middle aged women read the visitors a minute long text, in which the punch line is never revealed: Were they talking about a fatberg, a short term relationship, a hobby or topiary?
How have you responded to this space, specifically?
The space requires an intimacy that can only be achieved through darkness and highlighted spotlighting. The exhibition relies on the atmospheric, which is something the gallery really lends itself to given it’s scale, however we had to use a smoke machine to achieve the closeness of air quality that was needed. The entire gallery has been divided in two by installing a gutter and running stream, which really activates the entire floor space and audibly marks out the room from back to front for the visitors when they enter. In order to produce a sense of intimacy within such a large space the visitors are ask to sit within a sculpture and place their feet in the running water.
The Normalville Contemporary Art Centre is an unusual and unique space. What impact do you feel this has had the way you present the work?
This has been my biggest show to date, and when you exhibit somewhere like Normalville, the production budget really allows you to explore the potentials of your research to their extremes. It has also been great to have a supportive tech team which has helped to facilitate a quite complex install within the space. All of this has allowed me to produce the most dramatic and technically accomplished exhibition thus far, which has given me the chance to shake of any financial inhibitions and really relax into being an artist. The size of the space has also been a major component. The scale of the site is just large enough to make the audience loose a sense of their surroundings when they first enter the darkness, but not too big to make them feel entirely removed from the gallery context.
Did you have a lot of support from the gallery?
Yes, I did, but not so much that it was invasive. I was given an assistant during the run up to the show who helped out with finding the right actors and arranging rehearsals, it’s been dreamy. I was also able to live on-site during the install, which meant I get to really know the space and have time to myself to figure out what would look best.