MIRRORING: A PROCESS IN PERCEPTION / 2010 / MA STUDIO – OXFORD BROOKES

The underpinnings of how we view ourselves and others, and ourselves in relation to others are made visible in an intimate and sometimes challenging process of seeing. A circle configuration with chairs facing one another is arranged with mirrors set up behind the chairs. Participants are told that they can stop participating at any time, and each step in the process is introduced as an invitation rather than a directive. The artist is present in each step and performs the same actions as the participants. One: participants are invited to “see” each person without words. Two: participants are invited to turn the chair around and see themselves in the mirror. Three: participants are invited to use the mirrors to see themselves in relation to others in the room. Four: participants are invited to see the group with their eyes closed. These steps are performed in a different order with groups of varying numbers. Deceptively simple in phrasing, the steps become anything but simplistic as the artist and participants confront themselves in one another’s eyes, a feeling at times both painful and beautiful. Each time a new group participates a different energy is created, often magical and uplifting but sometimes uncomfortable, disconcerting. While documentation of the process—reflections multiplied—could be visually sublime, residue of the work is diagrammed later on a chalkboard, enabling more anonymity and present awareness for the participants. Simple chalk lines document the movement of connections, awareness and relationships that occurred throughout the process.  If Social Sculpture explores the possibility of “oneness” within society, the human gaze is undoubtedly a social phenomenon that highlights both the challenges and the potential of this exploration.