Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dis-Playing – a game on playing and its unravelling

Dis-Playing – a game on playing and its unravelling is a play on seeing the seriousness of what lies inside the outer layer, behind the frontal/face, the game, if you like. In fact, to ‘dis-play is to bring something to play; to make it both subject and object, as that which subliminally imposes itself, and whose material offers itself for consumption, visual or real.

The project Dis-Playing, as conceived by artist, Panayiotis Michael, involves 8-9 art students who have been given guidelines to create an artwork, which may then be installed in the display windows of various shops on the road of Ονασαγόρου, in old Nicosia. Some of these shops no longer function as small businesses, and so one of the challenges for the students is to create works, which may, or not, inhabit these spaces. An interesting point to make about this area is that it falls in a part of Nicosia’s green line, and so this raises questions to do with the geographic and historic nature of the area in which these desolated stores stand. By whom were these small enterprises run? Why did they close down? What kind of shops were they? How did they display their windows? These alternative spaces – and I call them alternative as they may be experienced by art students who are planning to show their work in a temporary “exhibition” space – offer their own histories, whether through the students’ abilities to imagine them as they were in the past, or to envision them as future constructions.

Each individual has his/her own ideas about shopping, window displays and forms of consumerism. The concept of this project puts the students in a situation to imagine themselves as both the consumer and owner, the object and subject, the outside browser and the inside trend-setter. So the relationship between the artist and his/her product, the student and his/her work is related, in ways, to that of the entrepreneur and the consumer. The artist/student has an audience to consider, and in many cases, a potential collector/viewer.

There is a semiological setting that attracts a viewer when strolling by a shop window and the invitation for these students is to install works that develop an exchange between the inside and the out.

We have only to imagine how long it might take someone to walk several blocks on New York City’s 5th avenue. Glamorous designer stores; children’s toyshops; chocolate boutiques; sensational perfume houses, and art galleries, are all encoded with hidden messages, which allure browsers passing by. Dis-Playing, might then, be seen as an experiment on how viewers might respond to storefronts that house art rather than particular products designed for quick consumption. How might we imagine Ονασαγόρου street to look after the project Dis-Playing is installed? We await with anticipation!

November 2007
appeared in ΥΓ of Phileleftheros newspaper

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