2nd Empire State Building , Lizzie Hughes, (2001)

Listening to Lizzie Hughes’ work 2nd Empire State Building, a sound piece consisting of a series of brief phone calls in which the caller asks politely which floor the person on the other end of the line is working on, I was at first unaware of the title and date of the work.

It took me until the 11th floor to work out that the calls were in sequence, and after that it became vividly engaging, as I waited for each floor, wondering how far up the building we could go. The answer would come, similar but always varied answers, all the way up to 80.

The higher we go, the more it narrows the possibilities for which building we could be listening to. The caller is British and states that she is in London, the people answering all have American accents and reveal various street names which imply the building is in New York.

In some respects the date and title of the piece become irrelevant. Whenever this was made, the mere phrase ‘New York Skyscraper’ today conjures up images of the destruction of the twin towers, ‘911’. The stark human component of a skyscraper, the human beings in the concrete and glass, the lives lived out and cut short in the attacks are brought to life, and to death.

But while listening to the work, they all live, and become real people on the end of the line. Like a vine growing up from underground all the way from us to them, the lifeline reaches impossibly high, higher than any living thing can reach up unaided above ground level. It is a marvel and a tragedy, a celebration, affirmation and memorium.

The Empire State Building stands 450m tall and consists of 102 floors, the first 80 of which are offices.

The world trade center buildings stood 530m tall and consisted of 110 floors.

 

We told him it was an intervention. He told us to go and intervene with outside.

Ai Wei Wei’s 100,000,000 sunflower seeds at Tate Modern, made as a comment on trade, production, society, cultural history and workers’ rights, are now closed to those of us who want to walk on them. Two enlightened individuals took action and interacted with them in the spirit of their creation. Then were ejected from the museum. Management argued that ‘now workers will have to don masks and spend time raking them again’. Funny they didn’t think of that before they agreed to house the work. As for the workers who produced them- I wonder if they were all issued with masks too? Not that it matters now, as I hear the factory is not only closed but will be pulled down. This intervention in the film is in celebration of the rights citizens and workers do still possess in the UK. Remember to cherish them.

I’m amazed there aren’t more examples out there of people doing this. Notice that no-one joined us out on the seeds.

Mercedes Nunez Ferrari

Mercedes Nunez Ferrari Mercedes is an artist who works mainly with textiles and stitching, drawing on her life experiences as a woman for inspiration. Previous works include ‘The Mother’, as shown above, which draws us into a dialogue of the role of a mother, featuring an ambivalent suggestion of physical demands.
The work which will be discussed here featured a collection of 3 pieces of work which address the similar theme of the mother. They were presented in a group, as roughly illustrated below.
The work consisted of a graphite representation of a uterous surrounding a pink plastic peg, a pair of hand-sewn fabric representations of breasts suspended on the wall, and a large graphite title declaring ‘Like a 24hrs shop ready to serve’
Whilst the works were recognisably referring to a common theme, I will discuss them separately, as I feel they were strong enough to stand alone, or in a group, rather than collectively as one piece.
The Uterous. Containing a pink peg in contrast to the drawing surrounding it, this suggested domestic chores, which are chores after all- and the choice of colour, associated with the femine, was supported by the female reproductive organs. A peg is an object with which to hold something up, but it can also pinch. This seemed really fitting, echoing the nurturing, or ‘holding in’ of the foetus, and also the physical pain of childbirth. The inclusion of an actual peg brought it into the present, rather than presenting it as a nostalgic image, suggesting an ongoing use.
The Breasts. Visibly hand sewn from calico and pink fabric

Lynn Hershman Leeson, !W.A.R.

Just saw this film about women in art, and am shocked how much of this I didn’t know. I felt compelled to share this with my fellow students, and it should be part of every foundation education! The fact that it isn’t is explained in the film, and further proves that it should be. I now have a very long list of artists to research, so much the better.