Situationism On Sea
Author Richard Makin explores the temps: writes of passage guerilla exhibition
“A group of artists, writers and mental health professionals creating a live project reflecting issues surrounding mental health/disorders [sic] and how art and creativity can be harnessed as a transformative medium for healing. Creating impermanent artworks, installations and happenings around town on streets/pathways, using drawing, photography, performance art, installations etc.” – from the Coastal Currents Arts Festival guide
‘I can control time, if I write here time will pass.’– Anon.
Someone once wrote: ‘You make interventions; I am the intervention.’ This declaration surely applies to the temps, whose unsponsored wheat-pasting and stencilled poetic fragments have already triggered reaction from Hastings Local Authority; this body promptly discharged a jobsworth to remove any artworks daring to raise a head along its vaunted seafront. Notwithstanding, the majority of the temps’ valuable contributions to the Coastal Currents Arts Festival have survived municipal vandalism.
The brief is simple: the use of art as a transformative medium for psychical healing, a vital strategy in a context of medication randomly administered with the aim of a rapid return to the obedient norms of work, shopping and infantile leisure pursuits—this succinctly expressed by one contributor’s ‘Care Plan’, culled from actual medical reports: ‘Increase anti-psychotic medication, ensure dosage is high enough to decrease over-thinking and expressed emotion.’ Hereby, thought, reflection and emotional life are relegated and presented at odds with the aims of the psychology industry, with its perpetual reinvention of diagnoses and inadequately tested medicaments, these designed to numb and stultify rather than relieve suffering, fatally misconstruing the human organism as a neurological machine. Consequently, there is an absence of free and effective care for the legion of citizens alienated by the merciless demands of a workticker consume-until-you-die ethos, i.e. of humiliation and aggression underpinned by the corrosive illusion of choice. It is poignant to reflect upon the years commonly spent on a waiting-list for effective psychoanalysis, set against the brief hours it took to remove some of this extraordinary artwork from our promenade (ironically, an environment in which a mediocre effort by colour-supplement street artist Banksy has been dutifully protected behind perspex by the Local Authority, who cannily recognize its value as a faux-anarchist tourist attraction).
Real life is elsewhere, in someone else’s misery – the true taste of the passage of time. Anonymity is the key; unauthored images and texts exploring selfhood are presented as objects in the world—not the impoverished domestic or virtual object but a solid spectacle, in timely counterpoint to the contemporary obsession: projection of constructed personas into the digitized void of (anti-)social media.
This collective art is necessarily various – passing glimpses of poetic intensity, the combative lucidity of a lost revolt – reminiscence of abandonment, of familial and societal abuse: unsane biro’d scribbledehobble juxtaposed with a child’s inborn draughtsmanship; a (now beheaded) eulogy to every dead dad; a collaged medical report, painful to read regarding the utter inadequacy of treatment, while bearing glimpses of an accidental beauty (courtesy of that tortuous medical lexicon designed to avoid the very core of psychical suffering); stencilled missives on the pavement, hidden in piss-streaked carparks; a talismanic figure suspended in white light fissured by broken glass… A flowering of emergency.
Meaning has no place here: the work is visceral and intuitive, subverting any press for explanation. This collision of damaged private and damaged public hosts a tension that could never be generated in the neutered enclaves of gallery or museum, and of course engages a far wider, unwashed audience. the temps manifest remarkable examples of what these times do not want; nonetheless, these ruins are already in your head. Our strollers are kicking back, at a neighbourhood near you. Street art degrades, so too psyche in this dismal era—let it find you, before it vanishes.
You can read more about ‘intervention’ here.
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