As part of ‘Being Together Is Not Enough’, I would like to perform my recently developed piece ‘Bag For Life’ during the events programme. This durational performance is a consideration of the anxieties of social presence and togetherness, whilst questioning the need for artist as spectacle. I envisaged the creation of my ‘bag’ as a social womb which provides the ability to be present but protected.

The prop that I have built for this piece – my ‘Bag For Life’ – has contrasting aesthetics. I wanted to ensure the outside had a typical bag exterior and so used a rough hessian material implying mass production for industrial use. This provokes a pity within the onlooker – the separation appears uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the interior is personal, plush and comforting with a patchwork of soothing materials. This combination of fabrics, including handmade rug, create a pleasurable sensory experience in comparison to the persistent sensory overload I feel in social situations. The inner fabrics are all bright green as this matches my hair colour(!) – making the appearance distinct. I am always interested in how those who know me seem to perceive such an unnatural colour as almost one of my biological attributes – this seemed appropriate in the handmade construction of one’s own womb.

During the making process, I became fascinated by how, when explaining what I was constructing, the listener would always react with excitement or intrigue in what I was going to be doing inside. Frequently, I was offered suggestions – theories on what people would be doing in my position. I loved this idea of speculation and wanted to toy with it in my performance and the resulting exhibited objects. I decided to spend my time in the bag writing a list of imaginary activities that I had completed during the performance – thus spending the performance constructing an imaginary performance and manipulating the speculation of the audience. I love venturing into the realms of ridiculous and humour within art and relish the idea of The Absurd and Sisyphean tasks.

In conjunction with Five Years Gallery, I would like to further develop my piece to provoke audience imagination and participation. The event I would like to propose is ‘Blind Life Drawing’, in which, during a ‘Bag For Life’ performance, participants are invited to draw the person that is inside their bag, that they have not seen and will not meet. This, whilst being a thoroughly silly and entertaining activity, will enable the viewer to interact with their unknown other. I quite like the idea of this still being a structured life drawing class so that a range of images can be produced by the participants – timed drawings of various lengths which will delve deeper into the imagination of the group. This range of images could then go on to play an integral part in the proposed publication. Will an individual produce the same likeness in each of their drawings? Will the artist within be a dream or a nightmare? What gender, what age, what race will my viewers imagine me?
The performance and event are both flexible and I am willing to work with Five Years Gallery to best suit their needs. Meanwhile I am happy to assist with any health and safety assessment that is required.

1.jpg : image of Bag For Life
2.jpg : image of Bag during performance
3.jpg : image of myself in the bag prior to performance
4.jpg : image of a section of the list resulting from performance

Materials and equipment: Easels or tables for participants
Potentially materials for participants, however I find during life drawing people are comfortable bringing their own materials. Paper could be provided to ensure images are then collectable for publication.

I am currently an MA Fine Art student at Birmingham School of Art. Excited by the idea of learning through play, I enjoy lively collaboration and experiments investigating the idea of Self and Other. During my Masters course, I enjoy engaging with artists and playing extra-curricular roles. I currently act as part of a committee which develops visiting artist talks for the public.
Prior to this, I have spent the past two years taking a leading role in the development of Wolverhampton’s contemporary art scene. This has included independent curation in both traditional and contemporary spaces and evolving and entangling artist-led spaces in the area. I have also played a large part in facilitating local artists who are under privileged due to a range of factors including physical/mental disability, social/political background and addiction. Meanwhile, I have been a part of workshops and theoretical reading groups with local artists, hoping to develop close relationships between creative practitioners in the city.
I have recently completed an ACE funded collaborative residency at Stryx Arts in Birmingham and now frequently exhibit in Artistled spaces in the Midlands.

Sunday 20 May 2018
Emily Scarrott
Bag For Life