The derelict painting studios in Exeter College of Art looked smaller than I remember – these were the spaces where I learnt my painting skills and the place where I was told to forget my painting skills. Those were the days when art was promoted as an intuitive process and not a prescriptive target driven qualification.
On the floor below the studio, directly underneath was the library, now devoid of shelves and books. All that information, inspiration and knowledge gone.
The lecture theatre still had its seating but its projection screen was missing. This was the place where I booed lecturers who spewed bullshit and I think I met Sir Terry Frost (?) – the place where I rediscovered Pollock and was seduced by Rothko, learned about Fox Talbot and watched some ridiculous interview reenactments based on articles published in magazines…
Sarah Bennett used this empty vessel to install ‘Institutional Traits (Series 2)’ which comprised of two large printed photographs of the empty lecture theatre. The lighting in the space was (and always was) simple – controlled by two light switches, one that puts the lights on at the back and one that put them on in the front. The two images mounted on the sides of the theatre reflected the lighting options, one was of the lights on in the front and one was with the lights on at the back.
This corridor brought back memories:
In 1977 I was asked to ‘crew’ for a video (in those days the equipment was huge, I had to carry a box the size of a suitcase). The video was of the processes involved in producing meat in a slaughterhouse, I did this for a painter who was creating images based on dead things.
I witnessed the slaughtering of pigs, lambs and beef cattle. The video shoot was over three days and although horrific it was surprising how quickly I adapted to the mass slaughter – the analogies between what I witnessed and the images of Jewish concentration camps during the Second World War were obvious – what I was surprised with was the speed in which such volumes of livestock could be processed.