Exploring our behaviour as an individual singled out within a group, Jenny Rush’s work isolated the performance art audience making us the spectacle. The work was formed of a television raised on a plinth with a large ‘X’ marking the space before it. The audience entered one at time, the second member could only enter after the first has stood on the X and triggered and watched a film. As the audience builds the experience of the scenario is heightened by watching eyes.
As an audience we become the participants without our knowledge. We watch for the next to enter, we watch for their reaction and their response to the film. We laugh, we stay silent, we gesture when they sidle through the room ‘go to the x’.
Aside from our behaviour, their is the subject of the film itself. Bombs, explosions, destruction, loud and violent noises which then finish in silence. The images of threatening and unnerving yet they jostle for our attention as we way up our position in the room, subject of so many other gazes. On most occasions the images fail to impress their intended viewer on the x, Its only on repeated viewings as you blend back into the accumulating audience does the destruction begin the seap through. The noises get louder and harsher, the footage more destructive.
These scenes, repeated are ripped from the everyday, ripped from the short attention of the momentary encounter. The repeated rhythm which we cannot absent ourselves from, draws the group together, we know whats coming and its not good.
The work also leads to ideas of herd behaviour, how we behave in a group under pressure. In this work the group seemed to want to put people at ease, encouraging them to engage by standing on the cross, laughing at their misdemeanors, shuffling along to let them join the group to sit down. Within this shared space, under this duress we accepted each new participant as a performer and then allowed them to become our audience. Not in on it, they were the individual, after experience, part of the collective.
The work challenged how we might perceive gallery space, the experience of the art work, when we become part of it, the trigger we had to sacrifice our indivduality under duress yet become totally isolated against the audience, of whom they were not part. Note the number of participants who tired to scurry to the side, without obscuring view of the screen as they entered.