'Between the two Fountains'

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'Between the two Fountains' was shown as part of 'The Dream Committee' in March 2018. The artwork took the form of a leaflet, which could be taken by the viewer to complete a walk from Piccadilly Gardens to Platt Fields Park, the sites of the two fountains. Along the route were seven other writings, which each considered the changing city in a different way. 

‘The Dream Committee’

curated by Andrew Hunt

 

[PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY ANDREW HUNT]

Including Stephen Barr, Zac Bradley, Ryan Brown, Bethany Costerd, Ellis Edwards, Mel Galley, Georgia Gibson, Alkmini Gkousiari, Charlotte Harmsworth and Rufus Biddle, Sarah Hawkins, Rowen Jones, Maisie Pritchard, and Alfie Sellers.

 

Opening performances:

Thursday 15 March 2018

4.00pm and 5.30pm

 

‘Form dream committees’ and ‘Arise, ye wretched of the university’ were Situationist slogans painted onto the streets of Paris during the revolutionary activities of May 1968. Fifty years later a new dream committee has been formed at Manchester School of Art among a small cadre of students, a group of indolent aesthetes who have come together to create a series of projects interested in the potential of what art might become in the street in 2018.

This short series of projects and events, titled ‘The Dream Committee’, will present a tension between official and unofficial sites for contemporary art, from the gallery space to offsite locations to the nature of ‘outsider’ practices in their many forms and iterations, namely artworks that exist in style ‘outside’ of fashion, at odds with institutional favour or those that appear marginal to the major historical canon. The project will literally present the artists’ works ‘outside’ of the gallery space through small transient gestures scattered around the vicinity of Manchester Metropolitan University and Oxford Road to the south of the city centre.

 

Zac Bradley, Ellis Edwards, Ryan Brown and Stephen Barr will make public paintings, consisting of banners, flags, temporary exhibitions on railings and in nearby cafes or pubs, while Bethany Costerd, Sarah Hawkins, Maisie Pritchard and Charlotte Harmsworth & Rufus Biddle will work with ad-hoc sculptural elements that range from favela-style constructions, external wall hangings, public art trails and large snowball-like compositions in an indirect reference to Manchester’s current homelessness as well as the history Arte Povera (poor art).

 

Meanwhile performances will be made by Alfie Sellers, Alkmini Gkousiari and Rowen Jones and a textual element will be addressed through zines and printed matter distributed by Mel Galley and Georgia Gibson.

 

The title not only refers to a seminal historical cultural moment, it speaks of the paradoxical bureaucracy of administering art that is at once hallucinatory yet very real, or which deals with relaxed reverie and dares to dream of alterative structures for living and organising everyday life.

1.
The light was grey and soft over the square, damp
concrete reflecting the early morning illuminations of
shop signs and lonely buses.
Deserted.
Row after row, columns of water surge through the
freezing December air. Shooting vertical in a froth of
white, some of the water carried as a mist away from
these urban geysers. Then paving slabs, newly laid,
are damp from the mist that slowly descends, or not
at all.
Time and again the fountains halt, then resurge with
equal vitality to the innumerable times before,
uncaring that there is no soul traversing the pavements
to witness them.
I am here though, and in a sense, you are too.
They perform again and again, until they are
performing to the morning rush hour of urgent
commuters, finally getting some hint of the attention
they seem to so desperately surge for.

2.
‘We are the men of train stations’
1
The doors to the tram open.
There are people packed tightly, up to the very ledge.
Hot breath and damp coats. Rucksacks pressing against me on all sides, a couple
laughing. Rustling waterproof coats, condensation settling on the dark panes of the
windows. Sickly yellow light. The panic starts. A phone ringing. Ringing again. A
couple arguing and I have to get off. Sitting for a while on the bench to wait for the
next one, cold rain drenching through wool. A pitying look. The next one arrives, they
appear in a chain. I cannot get back on; I need more time.
The doors close and it moves smoothly away, no resistance to the tracks it runs on.
A different way home tonight.

 


1 The Futurist Manifesto of Architecture

3.


I stand motionless for a while, facing up the broad causeway of the station
entrance. The many tracks of the railway rattle as a freight train thunders
across the bridge to the left. A passenger train follows a few minutes later, its
interior brightly lit by sickly yellow strip bulbs.I turn my attention back to
the station, staring at a section of perfect stone flags half way up the steady
incline.


It used to be just there, its roof would have risen slightly higher than the
pavement now. Tiled walls and heavy metal music, jute box and pool table. A
bar mat in the eye, snapped pool cue [tried to blame us], and always seemed to
be there till closing.


I focus harder but can’t picture it, buried there, soil filling the bar, the beer
garden, soil filling every crack and crevice. I know it’s been knocked down,
piece by piece, put into skips and taken far from this city. But, somehow, it is
easier to imagine it buried than not being there at all.
A bus pulls past, obscuring my view
momentarily, lurching me back to the present.

4.


Weekly, another appears
From the pit around the base
Drills as tall as towers pierce the ground
Then, mechanically, a black pillar rises up
A perfect pattern repeated again and again, till it fails them.
It is hard to imagine what that ground held first


[A month passes and they are closer now, soon they will reach
the street. Will that be enough? Will they stop there?]


Figures move about,
Silhouettes against the windows
They look like ants from this distance.
Ants build them, live in them
Then, ants living in a different city, decide to tear them down.
Soon the ants will build new ones again.