X≠Y: How to put up a shelf (V)
– with Dr. Catriona McAra
Performace / installation
wood, steel brackets, screws, tools, stepladders, lights, sign, walls
[dimensions variable] / 4hr:30min
Part V of an ongoing series of investigations into the process by which a utilitarian, ubiquitous object comes into being and is understood.
The fifth iteration of ‘How to put up a shelf’ comprises a co-investigative performance into the politics of curating and fabrication. Using the symbol ≠ as a representation of unequal shelving, a female curator and male artist work in tandem to construct two shelves. This performative intervention aims to create a more level playing field whilst framing and challenging prejudices regarding positions of power in industry.
The ‘How to put up a shelf’ series – background
Before I became an artist, I was an handyman. When people used to discover this about me, over half would ask the same question:
– So do you put up shelves and that sort of thing?
In order to discover why that question arose so frequently, I devised an experiment to investigate in detail how I put up a shelf.
I videoed myself putting up a shelf in my studio, and then reviewed the footage, recording all the decisions, no matter how small, that I could see myself making. Taking a decision to comprise a question and an answer (Q. Do I want that? + A. Yes. = D. I want that), I wrote what I believed were the questions I was asking during the process, e.g. ‘Is it level?’, ‘Is the drill set to the correct speed?’.
The resultant list of 553 questions became the first part of my open-ended preoccupation with shelves.