One of my favourite participatory live art installations at Coastal Currents festival was Worktable, conceived by artist Kate McIntosh.
I took part a few weekends ago when Worktable was held in Coastal Currents’ shipping containers on Hastings seafront, an exciting exhibition and participation space. I’ve been meaning to share my experience with you since then and finally got round to it.
The first container we were directed to had a collection of everyday and antique objects spread out on a set of shelves. We were asked to pick one item each, sign a disclaimer (gulp) and sit and wait until a place in the next container became free.
I was drawn to a man’s brown leather shoe as I was wearing a leather boot where the sole was coming apart from the upper, and I was itching to rip it apart a little more. Ripping apart the Worktable shoe presented a challenge – it would be much harder to destroy than my own shoe.
The second container had been a pop-up cinema earlier in the festival and so the blackout material remained on all surfaces. Tools and safety equipment were laid out on the workshop bench. I wore the visor and gloves and felt like a beekeeper. Unfortunately, I was unable to rip the sole from the upper with the tools that were laid out – I needed something stronger, and a vice! So I just used nearly every tool on the bench to rip apart the shoe. This is what I left it looking like:
In the second container we had to fix someone else’s destroyed object. I chose a Wuthering Heights audio cassette tape. It looked so sad with the tape trailing out of the splintered plastic casing. My plans to make a sculpture out of the bits collapsed pretty quickly and I just stuffed the pieces inside the cardboard sleeve and tied it up with string as neatly as I could.
The last container had shelves for everyone to display their mended objects. There was a mismatch of items, some repaired meticulously (easily enough done with smashed china and a tube of superglue) and some that were put together so differently that it took a bit of thought to work out what they were.
The saddest sight was a taxidermy duckling, with his head lolling off and resting on the shelf. I can’t imagine being the person who took him to the second container and destroyed him!
Kate McIntosh’s website for details of other Worktable events.
Previous posts about Coastal Currents events: