Revellers in the absurd, believers in dead pan and those who delight in art’s capacity for questioning the accepted norms, make your way to the canal banks next week.
Tottenham artist Alexander Costello will be sailing by, strapped to the bow of a canal barge, dressed in a white suit, for a special Royal British Society of Sculptors’ performance event entitled Making Progress.
The Slade School of Art MFA graduate and teacher of art at Park View School will be taking the place of a traditional figurehead and intently pointing forwards towards the ‘inevitable future’.
Alexander, who has a history of absurd performance-based work, influenced by artists such as John Baldessari, Bruce McLean, Bas Jan Ader and Jacques Tati, says: “The gesture is deliberately absurd and through it I would like to encourage thought, conversation and questions seeking to define ‘what actually is progress?’, both for and in society, politics, economics and culture, and recognise that it is not just synonymous with a ‘bigger, better, faster’ narrative.“ The spectacle will launch in Camden on September 4 and travel at 2mph along the waterways through King’s Cross, Angel, Broadway Market, Victoria Park and Queen Elizabeth Park before travelling through Tottenham Hale on September 7 where the floating Fordham Gallery will land.
The performance can be experienced from the pathway or actually on board the barge. A camera over his shoulder will film the view down his arm to the end of his pointing finger and this footage is screened live inside the cabin. Alexander will be making stops at various points and inviting members of the public on board to immerse themselves in the performance.
He says: “The route the barge takes also deliberately maps areas of social change, regeneration and gentrification to point out and ask whether such activity and change is ‘progress’ and indeed in whose interest is this progress actually for.
“Such questions are very much hot topic in Tottenham right now.“ The event is the culmination of Alexander’s Royal British Society of Sculptors Sculpture Shock 2014 Ambulatory residency.
Now in its second year, this ground-breaking award encourages surprising site-specific spatial interventions in non-traditional spaces.
For up to date boarding locations and performance times see www.sculptureshock.rbs.org.uk or Twitter @SculptureShock