Before its move to HOME in 2015, Manchester’s Cornerhouse is running its final exhibition. Using Cornerhouse’s iconic brick structure and Jacques Tati’s 1967 comedy masterpiece as inspiration, nine artists are exhibiting their work at Playtime. One of these artists, Naomi Kashiwagi, writes for Northern Soul about her Playtime experience.
“The arts have the potential to show that the everyday can be reinvented and that the ordinary is usually extraordinary and that the extraordinary can become part of, or intervene and wonderfully interrupt, everyday life.” – Naomi Kashiwagi
Puffin Crossing Carousel
For Puffin Crossing Carousel, the crossing outside Cornerhouse was transformed [last weekend] into a gleeful carousel with a group of Puffin Crossing Carousellers performing choreographed movements while waiting at and traversing this pedestrian crossing, with a musical backdrop of L’opéra des jours heureux (The Happy Days Opera) by Francis Lemarque from Playtime (the final scene in Tati’s Playtime involves a glorious carousel roundabout with L’opéra des jours heureux as the soundtrack). The choreography for Puffin Crossing Carousel was based upon both everyday movements that people employ when using pedestrian crossings and also fun, comic and playful unexpected movements and gestures.
Cornerhouse is located on the bustling intersection of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street. It has puffin crossings that safely orchestrate the ebb and flow of moving traffic and pedestrians passing through and across Manchester. This puffin crossing is a place with an ever-changing temporary audience; waiting pedestrians, stationary drivers and cyclists, all of whom unexpectedly encountered, experienced and engaged with Puffin Crossing Carousel.
Puffin Crossing Carousel explored an unintended use of a pedestrian crossing: as a carousel that people can merrily go round while others look on; extraordinary and playful, yet still embracing the inherent function of the puffin crossing. Puffin Crossing Carousel aimed to show how small, extraordinary moments and things can inspire joie de vivre in everyday life. Notice the extra in the ordinary.
Puffin Crossing Carousel was photographed and will be shown as slide photographs, projected from a slide carousel, at the Playtime exhibition at Cornerhouse.
I wanted to unlock the playful potential of a gallery space where current norms can be subverted and unexpectedly fun modes of experience and participation can be experienced. Swingtime proposes an alternative way of experiencing a gallery space with an installation that invites participation and engagement between people, architecture and sounds; inside and outside are gleefully confounding.
Galleries are liminal spaces and liminality is linked to ritual processes that involve suspending everyday social and cultural behaviours. In this way, people walk through the gallery spaces, stand or sit to experience art in a liminal way. Installing a set of indoor swings has the potential to subvert gallery conventions, suspend the liminal and return to the everyday, but in an extra-ordinary way.
Swings are usually placed outside in playgrounds, parks and gardens. The experience of swinging encapsulates a love for life; the feeling of weightlessness and the gleeful repetitive swinging motion transports you somewhere else in that moment and forces you to lose a sense of time and place. The sounds activated by the swinging are recordings of beeps and traffic from the puffin crossing outside Cornerhouse. They have been distorted using audio software and the duration and cycle of sounds correspond to the puffin crossing outside Cornerhouse.
As an artist, I have been supported by Cornerhouse for the past eight years and have a great fondness for the organisation, particularly the people I have worked with, and an admiration for this bustling social cultural hub in Manchester. I’m thrilled and humbled to be one of the artists to be producing new commissioned work for the final show.
By Naomi Kashiwagi