Magazine article Tate Etc.

Studio Experiments

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Studio Experiments

Article excerpt

In 1966 a group of 25 students at Saint Martin's School of Art (including George Passmore, Richard Long, Bruce McLean and Wendy Taylor) are led blindfolded into a specially created environment without any direction and forbidden to speak. It was filmed and now features in a Tate display exploring the artist and model. What was it about?

A cluster of art students gather in an antechamber constructed outside a Saint Martin's School of Art studio space. They strip, slip into swimwear, are blindfolded, hooded with white sacks that are tied at the waist and instructed not to talk to one another. The group shuffles warily forward into the adjoining space, bodies stooped and tightly coiled in anticipation. Like a flock of frightened sheep, they stay close, clutching at the person in front for the security of touch.

The environment they are unable to see is a 24ft long, 15ft wide and 14ft high room, the floor raised to create different levels and polythene drapes dividing parts of it. Filling the space is an array of tactile props - large foam shapes like fragments of modernist sculptures, a cardboard pendulum swinging on a rope and scraps of paper strewn across the floor and piled up to form a blanket of detritus. Amid the maelstrom we catch a glimpse of a female life model, unmoving and rooted to the spot. The scene is set to a soundtrack of exploding bombs, speeded-up pop music, slowly accelerating trains and 'space babble'. Over the course of 40 minutes some participants brazenly tramp about utterly unperturbed, anarchically kicking through the scenery. Some remain huddled together, sidling through the space in twos and threes. One girl slumps to the floor in a seeming state of turmoil, while another person lavishes a little too much attention on the unsuspecting life model. …

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