1999, site specific mediatised performance, National Portrait Gallery, London (still from one out of eight cameras recordings)
Eight channel Installation at Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia 2002, Curator Enrico Depascale
The screen of the monitors is a meeting point for myself artist and audiences in this following work, marked by a continuous change of position from in front and behind it. In the making of the piece Ancora Cerca, I was able to experiment with cctv systems, issues of documentation and time as well as self-representation. The work was performed at National Portrait Gallery, NPG, London 12-14 March 1999 and presented as an 8-monitor video installation at the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo in Brescia, Italy, between the 6 and 24 April 2002. For this piece I worked with the existing video security system of the gallery. After having done some research on the ideal location for the performance within the space, I looked at the monitors to which the video-cameras would send the captured video information and made notes.
Floor plans of the top floor of the NPG with notes for production, 1999
‘…room 17-cam.24 -coming from18-stop between sculpture and entrance-watch camera; room 19- cam25 – stop watch camera between glass case and sculpture; room21-cam26 – standing behind sculpture watching camera; room 22-cam 28- walking from 21 in the middle and out; room 18- sitting on sofa…’. This enabled me to visualise the space from the viewpoint of the cameras – the space I would physically enter while performing. The performance took place on the 12th of March, the recording of it from the documentation on the 14th.
12 March – performance: I would stage an encounter with the warden watching the surveillance monitors in the NPG, by walking towards it and watching the video-camera of each chosen room. As I address the camera in each room, I become a ‘picture’ in the gallery, yet the camera, fantasised as the Gaze of the Other is also, as it were, ‘pictured’ as the spectator sees me imaging what it is seeing and giving myself the things I lack and are looking for (meaning of ancora cerca).
14 March – video recording: I went back two days after (as required by the gallery for security reasons) and played back the tapes that were stored. I was surprised to find that the system reduced the footage by half, so that not all frames were kept. As a result the quality of the recording was poor. However, I placed the video camera in front of the screen to record the half an hour of the performance from each of the monitors: the recording of the action went through a number of filters. In the resulting video, the viewers see the evidence of the performance through the ‘eye’ of these surveillance cameras, that have videoed me walking from room to room barefoot, clad in a beige dress, and evoking a romantic spirit of the gallery by carrying a red rose. The spectators, at this stage positioned as the camera when watching the surveillance video or see stills from it, are pictured by myself as I look at the camera. The spectators project what I might have seen from my vantage point in the gallery space. In this gallery dedicated to the construction of identity through picturing it, this performance makes the deep structures of that identity construction emerge, so we all become aware of how much both the artist and the spectator never fully or comfortably, inhabit the illusory space of identification.
Cologni, E. That spot in the ‘moving picture’ is you, (perception in time-based art), in Blood, Sweat & Theory: Research through Practice in Performance ed. John Freeman, Libri Publishing, London, 2010, pp. 83-107
National Portrait Gallery, London
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London