Monday, March 21, 2011

Goett & Hoad: 300 Spectators - Towner, Eastbourne, 2 April to 2 May 2011

Goett & Hoad, 300 Spectators (2010/2011)
Fabric & wallpaper
200cm x 230cm x 8cm

“Unshadowed, white, clean, artificial – the space is devoted to the technology of esthetics,” Brian O’Doherty wrote in his famous 1976 essay on the modern white cube gallery; among “ungrubby surfaces […] untouched by time and its vicissitudes,” the visitor is expected to be no more than a spectator: “while eyes and minds are welcome, space occupying bodies are not.”

Unlike the old Towner Gallery with its creaking floorboards, lived-in past and crumbling surfaces so visibly touched by the vicissitudes of time, the new Towner has been built in the tradition of the modernist temples of art, dedicated to safeguarding the artwork and keeping visitors in awe and at bay.

300 Spectators pays homage to the gallery visitors’ undesired and absent bodies, creating a small space for their comfort. Making visual reference to the rows of seats found in the Congress Theatre next door with whom the gallery shares a wall and a cultural space, the piece plays with affinities of audiences on both sides of the wall.

The 300 miniature, minimalist armchairs, measuring 8cm x 8cm x 8cm each, arranged in neat rows, from a distance look like a colourful patchwork. Made from fabrics and wallpaper, they bring a touch of private home comforts into the public gallery space. Some seem similarly ‘dressed’ at first glance, yet at closer inspection each of the seats, like the visitors they are dedicated to, is different.

Who is looking at what? Is 300 Spectators to be interpreted as a critique of the gallery, a comment on visuality, or a cultural ‘borrowers’ auditorium? Whatever else it might be, first and foremost it was made for the delight and enjoyment of the visitors, to entice their own imaginations irrespective of the makers’ intentions and thoughts.

Solveigh Goett was born in Germany in 1953, and has lived in the UK since 1985. She completed her MA in Sequential Design & Illustration at the University of Brighton in 2003 and a practice-based PhD on the subject of everyday textiles and memory in 2010 at the University of East London. She has exhibited widely both in the UK (Eastbourne, Lewes, Brighton, Bristol, London) and abroad (Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, France, Belgium and Austria). As an artist/researcher she frequently presents her work at international conferences and symposia, and has published in journals such as the Working Papers for Art and Design. She currently works as a free-lance artist, researcher, lecturer and writer, both literally and metaphorically engaging with the manifold and multiple matters of the fabric of life. More about her work can be found on her website

Jean Hoad was born in Liverpool in 1956 and has lived in Eastbourne since 1973. She studied 3-D Design at the University of Brighton (2000 - 2003). With a strong interest in outsider art and a firm belief in Beuys’s maxime that everybody is an artist, she abandoned the more conventional art school environment in favour of working with severely disabled adults, helping them to achieve a better quality of life through creative endeavours. Her own work has benefited from her experience of working with others, seeing the world through their eyes and making sense of it through their hands. Her art reflects her love of nature and a concern with environmental and social issues and could be described as situated at the threshold between nature and culture. She has created site-specific installations and sculptures in a variety of outdoor locations, including the Sussex Downs, North Wales and the South of France. Her work is part of private collections and she has undertaken several commissions.


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