Live performance, 2 hours
Recorded live on Facebook
Friday 3rd June 2016,
Stryx, Minerva Works, Digbeth, Birmingham
Iron, iron board, water, jug filler, laptop, speaker, 2Cellos albums, iPhone, video camera, tripods.
Birmingham based artist Raquel Macartney will be ironing a range of donated second hand freshly washed and dried garments. This live performance will take place at Stryx, Minerva Works, in Digbeth as part of Soup Part III Artist Residency Open Studios and Digbeth First Friday Night.
‘Transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-, meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.” When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.’
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state, or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities. Raquel’s notion of transcendence is explored through the ritual of simple domestic ironing acts and taking this activity within the context of the studio, art gallery or specific site.
The habitual movements and enduring approach in which the artist explores the so called ‘confinements’ in ironing, brings consciousness to small details of the ironing act. For example, filling up the iron with water, spraying water onto clothes and ejecting steam loose into the fabric and air.
Seizing the opportunity to create short term beautiful sculptural ‘crisply ironed and neatly folded clothes’ is often something that can be done unconsciously and in a monotonous manner-. The hope for the artist is to bring awareness in ‘tedious ironing’ coupled with concepts on the ephemeral and questioning the transient.
‘Sometimes when ironing we can shift to ‘auto pilot’ and camouflage into the ironing environment itself, becoming invisible with the surroundings, becoming one with the iron, board, floor, wall and even clothes…’
Just as the musician can be seen to play an invisible role behind the instrument which is the tool for creating beautiful music, so we see here the artist mimicking in a sense; playing an invisible role behind the ‘instruments’ and in this scenario – the iron and iron board etc. in order to create beautiful sculptural clothes installations…
The ‘ironies of ironing’ bring to light how these short term clothes sculptures that have been previously worn by individuals – get worn by individuals again, and therefore continue in this ritualistic act of – passing on these aesthetic materials, even in their old rugged state which for some items is the case.
The artist here through the work, awakens us to a metaphor in which, ideas, habitual acts, life and meaning get passed on from one generation to another and identify some shared human experience and connection.
It can also raise the question of asking ourselves what we are doing and why? Especially if the act of doing something only results in the outcome lasting a short while.
The ironing act will be accompanied with music played from a speaker connected to a laptop throughout the duration of the performance and filmed live on an iPhone camera to connect with a wider audience on social media looking at the ways art is being encountered via technology these days.
The artist also humours the viewer whether they are situated in the live audience or on social media. Why would anyone take the time to watch an artist ironing piles of clothes?
For the artist, catching up on chores during an art opening setting settles her reasoning for being able to juggle both making art and the practices of her private life in a public art setting. Which then raises the notion of whether this can really be art? What is accepted as art? And the possibilities of where art can be made and by who?…
This work also explores the idea of being able to be at two places at once which widens opportunities for people who cannot access art events or activities for whatever circumstances prevent them-. An area which Raquel continues to examine especially in the juggling act of being an artist mum.
2Cellos by Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser
2Cellos is a Croatian cello duo, consisting of classically trained Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser. Signed to SonyMasterworks since 2011, they released three albums and play mainly instrumental arrangements of well-known pop and rock songs.
A range of tracks from these albums will be played in the background of Raquel’s ‘Transcendence’ live performances.
The reason the music of 2Cellos has been specifically selected for this performance by the artist, is that during the laundry of clothes and hanging to dry moments of preparation for this work, ‘listening to their music has literally elevated me to another place that has felt somewhat mesmerizing, spiritually uplifting, captivating, transcending and spurring me on to finish off what I’ve started.’