s p o o l i n g t h e e t h n o g r a p h i c
”Spooling the Ethnographic” was a group exhibition by Central Saint Martins 2nd year Fine Art students including myself. Ethnography is defined ”The scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences”. We read Hal Fosters ‘Artist as Ethnographer’, in which Foster claims that anthropology, the science of the state of being other or different , has become the common language between those whose native languages are different within artistic practice. We were given a room within Iniva Gallery in which to exhibit our group work. Iniva was established in 1994 to address an imbalance in the representation of culturally diverse artists.
”Mary Ann Smith”.
For the weeks building up to the exhibition we worked on making a fake facebook profile, attempting to make it seem as real as possible, adding as many friends as we could, giving it a vaguely common name, adding photographs, ‘liking’ pages, writing generic status’s and interacting with the newsfeed of other peoples posts. We were to use Mary Ann as 'bait' for our audience to experiment with and observe the actions and responses of the unaware participants from the other side of the screen.
As the exhibition time drew nearer we thought the best option was to set out a laptop with Mary Ann’s facebook page logged in. Instead of just letting people view it, we set out a series of instructions so to encourage the audience to participate and let Mary Ann become, in a way, the profile of the exhibition, each viewer allowed to add, like and say what they like to Mary Ann’s ‘friends’, the majority of whom did not know she was an art project.
While deciding how to curate the ‘Becoming the other’ exhibition we came to a decision that the room should have a domestic feel. All the pieces fitted well in this theme, for example there was a rail of clothes to try and fit into next to a mirror, a book to read through, a documentary style video of cooking in a kitchen, a giant cushion-y pizza in the centre of the room that acted as a meeting point to sit on and relax, and others. I put the laptop on a desk in front of a window as to imitate a homely setting. In front of it was a comfy chair with a cushion and on the floor was a rug. Around the laptop on the desk there was a pot of flowers, photo frames and a few random ornaments and the instructions were placed next to the laptop.
Examples of the experiment results are below:
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