Dealing: Agnes Bolt's Virtual & IRL Intimacies-School of Art - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dealing: Agnes Bolt's Virtual & IRL Intimacies

"Dealing" is a two-part project, whereby a series of private moments Agnes Bolt (MFA '12) intervened into the lives of two Washington DC art collectors, Philippa Hughes and Philip Barlow, with the intention of exploring the consequences of the artists’ undeniable presence in their lives. This is how it played out:

Over the course of a week with each collector in May 2011, performance became real life and real life became performance as complex interpersonal and power dynamics played out; influenced by the attention and opinions of outside forces, including the media, friends, and the collectors' social scenes.

Part 1: Exchange

bolt-dealing-det1Bolt initiated separate contracts between herself and each curator, outlining a course of interactions and rules that would take place between them (in person or online) over a set period of time.

In the case of Hughes, Bolt existed inside a transparent, temporary structure (the "bubble") placed in the collector's living room 24/7. Through a written contract, Bolt was dependent on the collector for nourishment, affection and intellectual discourse. The artist became a witness, fetish object, captive, intruder, spectacle, mirror, insider, outsider, friend and yoga instructor. Hughes' blog during Agnes' stay

In the case of Barlow, Bolt constructed a series of virtual exchanges between herself and the collector, never having met nor meeting one another. Toying with the format of online fantasy and constructed identities, the exchange also considered the power plays and seductions of producing and consuming art. One exercise connected them through a live audio feed allowing the two to hear each other’s heartbeats during the course of an entire night. Upon hearing her own embarrassing digestive sounds, Bolt's heartbeat quickened which caused Barlow’s own involuntary reaction, poignantly connecting the two.

Part 2: Exhibit

bolt-dealing-det2Bolt exhibited the bubble and "souveniers" of her interactions with Hughes and Barlow at Project 4 Gallery in DC in October 2011. Objects included:

  • photographs made during the performance
  • various sculptural artifacts, including a fork with a piece of ceramic lasagna on it
  • the bubble itself, with an audio recording of Both and Hughes' interactions
  • a series of dust brushes (one of which was used to clean the bubble and has handwritten messages between Bolt and Hughes secreted inside the handles)
  • a poster-sized reproduction of the artist-curator contract, all priced to sell, and more.

The objects resulting from and references to intimate exchange (crafted or impromptu) highlighted the absurd, but occasionally transcendent, moments of art that attempt to bring people together, and ultimately, according to Bolt "exists in the messy territory of unrequited desire for connection."

Part 3: Release

bolt-dealing-det3The bubble was then delivered to Occupy DC's McPherson Square in late November, a timely gesture of transparency, where the temporary live-in object could take on a new context. Read more at Huffington Post

"I don't know what will happen with the bubble - it's really a donation to the occupiers and I will help guide it along if need be. I suggested they make it a sauna or veg. greenhouse and apparently its already found an inhabitant. I have this notion that the bubble should travel around and continue to find new contexts for itself - but mostly outside my control."

Read the contracts and see more documentation of "Dealing" on Agnes' website