We wondered very hard about whether to post these image and reflections, but we think it’s nice to get a sense of how Brown-eyed girl, 2010 was made and what we see when looking out from our work…
‘Through the looking holes’ – Days 1 + 2 (Sun Dec 5th 2010 & Sat Dec 11th 2010)
We can see you. We saw you. Did you see us?
We sat there every weekend for 6 hours at a time, watching. Those who knew we was there might have wondered; ‘what did they do in there?’. They called it dedication, even love. Those who didn’t know we were there were wondering ‘is it real or is it a film?’. We saw them, we HEARD them. We are real!
We only had two looking holes or spy holes on the outside world. But we also had an inside view. We had the visual freedom within our cupboard to look at anything we chose, a book, maybe a chair, a discarded painting or an unfinished bottle of gin. We could munch on some Percy Pigs and even sip a shot of Brandy, the curator’s favourite. But we had one rule: ‘You must not be seen or heard’. We liked this game.
If it was quiet, we could sneak out from behind our wall, stretch our legs a little, look at the pieces of art we could hear everyone discussing. But if we heard footsteps we would scurry back.
‘Quick! Someone’s coming!’
We never knew if it was someone on our side; a member of staff bearing gifts of sandwiches, one of the curators searching for a tripod; or if it was one of the others, a visitor who didn’t know our secret. We couldn’t take the risk. We felt like Anne Frank.
Our second view was through the looking holes, each no more than 1cm diameter. The Winter breeze burned our eyes, saw-dust puffed with every blink. Most of the time we could only see the piece on the opposite wall, ‘CYBORGS’ it read. Other times we was temporarily blinded by the torches. People trying to catch us out, trying to see if our pupillary light reflex was intact. Yes – our pupils shrank.
Was this view more limited than that of our cupboard? The field was smaller but perhaps we could see more. We were the eyes to the painting, the painting could see as much as my ears could hear. We had seen many exhibitions before, but we had never heard one like this.
We became familiar with voices, dog barks, even footsteps but their faces we rarely saw. ‘I like the underground feel – it has a sort of Fritzl atmosphere’.
‘This piece is by Nigerian twins Ayo and Oni Oshodi. Lots of their pieces revolve around hiding within disused areas and observation of behaviour in public spaces’.
We are hiding now. We are watching you.
‘Why is it in the dark with torches?’
‘It’s to honour the Japanese essay “In Praise of Shadows”‘.
‘The emphasis is on the beauty of the shadow rather than the West’s preoccupation with illumination’.
Our ignorance involuntarily corrected through eavesdropping. Deep – we thought.
It was what we would call a fly on the wall experience. We revelled in knocking on the wall if someone obscured our view, so entrenched in conversation they forgot we were there. That made them remember.
‘I wonder if this painting can read text messages’ – it can.
‘Is it her fault? Let’s ask the painting, blink twice for yes, once for no!’
‘Get up close’ they said.
You could see us blink.
‘It’s spooky’ they said, ‘don’t look at it’
We’ve never been called an ‘it’ before.
‘It’s a film’ they said.
‘You’re wrong’ we thought.
‘There’s only one way to find out’ they said.
‘What’s that?’ we wondered.
‘With a stick!’ they said
‘You DARE!’ we thought.
They played games, tried to catch us out. You see – a video can’t react. Sometimes we wanted to laugh out loud. We didn’t dare twitch an eyelid. We could smile, but nobody could see. Silently we stared into every visitor’s eye, separated only by a painting. If they were very still they might have even heard us breathe. But still, most of them didn’t know we were there.
One tested us. He looked up, we looked up. He looked down, we looked down. He blinked twice, we blinked twice. He crossed his eyes, so did we. He bowed and departed. We blinked thrice in return.
One cheated – he opened our door.
‘Sorry – just looking for the curator’ he said.
‘You liar’ we thought.
We saw your eyes one minute ago.
One saw us, a child. How was he so sure? He said he saw us move. We did.