A 10 day residency August 2012
Here comes everybody
Nela won Southwark Art Prize for the work developed in this residency
People seemed to have disappeared from these council’s, developers’ and even arts’ projects on regeneration. So, I engaged with people by opening the ground floor window of the space I was working in. This threshold of public and private space over the course of ten days became an eye and world opener to both sides – me at home and them on the street. The outside world looking in the indoor one, quickly realised that even though contained and enclosed, the home offers many unexpected occurrences and relations. For example, they did not expect anyone to say hello through window, let alone invite the viewing of this private space while someone is doing their washing in the background. Equally, I did not expect anyone to stop and talk to me, let alone about their lives. I collapsed the boundary between socially divided spaces and the public walked straight through that parting as if it never existed.
We laughed, cried and shared goods – drinks, CDs, dogs even, in a way I only saw in the films. So, I organised a film screening and did a different engagement practice every day, starting with a photo booth, local history tours I was taken on by the people, a beauty parlour on a Bank Holiday when the Walworth Road beauticians went to the carnival, a newsagent for reading papers and sharing the news and a window gallery showing the photos I took on a DVD player. I am yet to be a mending service before I finally open the doors of this old Victorian house that became a project space and let people in the way we normally enter someone’s home. For ten days, our house was truly in the middle of the street and everyone came to it.
My work centres on the theme of identity – lost and regained through leaving home. It explores the sense of belonging and the stages of adjustment to the new environment.
Longing for home, the one left and that doesn’t exist anymore is a childhood memory we can all relate to. This gives me a plethora of themes to develop in my artwork – past, present, future, roots, migration, displacement, identity, belonging, a sense of place, integration, assimilation, resettlement…
I present them in various formats; from moving image to fashion design, from written material to installation; from drama to photography. I particularly explore the use of mosaic, collage and material that creates stories coming in different shapes from the contributors. Drawing on imagery and the sound, I recall their memories of the place, age and circumstance and engage them in producing their own visions and stories.
People exist in the realm of spectacle as everyday subjects and we invite performative by our presence in spaces. How I make subjects/objects breathe with the life they get with the gaze of the audience is my practice enquiry. I use the contact with the public and participants to generate answers and devise a display that adequately transfers private into the public sphere. Something ordinary becomes spectacular when displayed in the right way and I hope to explore this further.