1 Mai 2020 > 30 Mai 2020
Sheila Ghelani

En ces temps délicats où il convient d’être attentif.ve à soi et aux autres, nous avons convié plusieurs artistes à proposer une action/réflexion artistique au départ de notre situation commune de confinement et de ses conséquences sur la notion d’espace public.

Le travail de Sheila Ghelani couvre la performance, l’installation, les événements participatifs et l’image en mouvement. Elle s'intéresse beaucoup à la médecine, aux soins et à la relation entre arts et sciences, avec un accent particulier sur l'hybridité.

Nous l’avions invitée en 2015 lors de la Urban Academy consacrée à « L’Art face à la terreur » et lui avons proposé cette fois de réfléchir à notre nouveau monde en crise.

Elle se lance dans la réflexion en prenant plusieurs points de départ : l’idée du care, son instinct autour de sa réticence à répondre au moment présent par l'art, l'espace public en relation avec les jardins, et peut-être ses rêves, car même si elle est confinée, elle se retrouve toujours dans l'espace public et en interaction avec les autres chaque nuit pendant son sommeil...

Elle décrit ci-dessous son processus :

Making the piece. The process…

When the CIFAS invite first came in I wasn’t sure whether to say yes or not. I wanted to spend my time with my parents - whom I’d come to help out during the pandemic, to do the chores and just be present with my already unwell (but not from Covid) mum.

Care, something I make work about often, was either everywhere I looked (at last), or lacking in such a monumental and profound way that institutional change or all out revolution was what was needed, not me and my art… I was reluctant to contribute to the noise.

Plus I could feel in amongst it all that turning to my practice would make me face some things that I, for the moment at least, wanted to pretend I could keep at bay - death, grief, the imminent collapse of the delicate arts ecology I was part of (most of my work had been cancelled, but not all).

But then outside in the garden, whilst tending to the ‘forget-me-nots’, a new space in my thoughts seemed to open up. A reflective space. A rehabilitative space:
What were the consequences of confinement on the notion of public space?

If I went slow perhaps… split up the ten days I was being invited to spend on the subject… only worked when I could (because caring for ourselves and caring for others takes up time, expends energy), perhaps I could say yes…

And so that’s what I did.

At first it felt every bit as complicated as I’d thought it would be. I wasn’t in my own home and so I didn’t have any of my stuff - my camera, access to my studio, my materials. My usual patterns of making were broken.

But then Mathilde from CIFAS said something about starting small, and I found myself typing up a list of my daily actions (making a kind of diary I suppose) under the title ‘some small acts of care’…

The list felt like a counterpoint to those heavy feelings I was experiencing now the art-making had begun. It simply described the care and maintenance of life, another type of essential work and labour, but one that happened daily behind closed doors. Perhaps what I was doing with this piece was making public a series of everyday acts of care (usually performed in private)?

The one art-making tool I had brought with me was some carbon transfer paper to complete an idea for another project (now suspended), and so I turned to that. I started tracing out my words and thinking about how they might be arranged… I imagined them on a white tile, hospital-like.

Looking around the house for something similar (to hold in my hands and stare at) I ended up in the garage, and to my surprise found some exactly like I’d imagined - some old bathroom tiles.

I’m not sure how I first decided to trace onto the tiles directly, but I do know that it was immediately really pleasurable. A non-permanent action without the right chemicals and certain processes of course, but slow, contemplative and much better feeling than doing it straight onto paper.

But the white ones didn’t photograph well - they were too shiny - and in any case, maybe weren’t quite ‘right’.

I went back into the garage again as I’d also seen a few spare kitchen floor tiles lying about. At the time I’d rejected them as they weren’t white, but perhaps they’d photograph better? Plus what better place to trace out my daily actions than onto a kitchen floor? The very room which I myself had walked over, prepared meals in, washed up and wiped clean, over and over and over again… Just like what I was going to do to the tiles at the end of my ten days (wipe them clean).

And so that’s what I did.

I think this piece, which exists currently as a set of photographs (the only trace of my words and actions), could one day also perhaps become a set of cards - moving through public space in another way. Passing lightly through many hands, containing private messages sent from one person to another.

Or equally still be reproduced as tiles to be placed somewhere in public. As a kind of memorial to an experience, that took place in the UK in an unremarkable house, in an unremarkable suburb in March, April, May and June 2020…(where I still currently am)… an experience replicated in lots of other households across the country, over and over and over again.

Making the invisible visible for a moment. Before once more returning the tiles back to the garage where I first found them…

Casting a circle to protect my parents? casting a circle to protect us all?

L'espace Public Confiné

Cela fait 10 ans que le CIFAS s’intéresse au travail artistique dans l’espace public. Nous investissons la ville comme espace ouvert de réflexion et d’action, en y organisant des ateliers, des débats et des interventions artistiques.

Dans cet espace public, le rôle de l’artiste est complexe et varié : offrir de nouvelles perspectives esthétiques, créer du lien social, réinventer les spectateur·rice·s, contribuer au renouveau urbain… Les stratégies artistiques à y déployer rencontrent des nécessités et des contraintes bien différentes des espaces habituellement réservés à l’art (salles de théâtre ou d’exposition).

Aujourd’hui, avec la crise liée à la propagation du Covid-19, l’espace public est mis à mal : il n’est plus possible de se déplacer, se croiser, se côtoyer ou se réunir. Choc social que nous vivons chacun·e confiné·e·s dans nos sphères privées. Alors comment faire de l’art à l’heure où chacun·e craint pour sa santé et celles de ses proches, et se demande quand et comment il sera possible de retrouver une vie urbaine? Existe-t-il un art du confinement ? Quelles stratégies artistiques inventer pour continuer de créer dans ces conditions ? Qu’est devenu l’espace public aujourd’hui ?

En ces temps délicats où il convient d’être attentif.ve à soi et aux autres, nous avons convié plusieurs artistes à proposer une action/réflexion artistique au départ de notre situation commune de confinement et de ses conséquences sur la notion d’espace public.