Interview with Charlotte Colgate


SomoS interviewed Charlotte Colgate, curator of the recent exhibition, AND SURRENDER, about her artistic practice and experiences working on this exhibition.

SomoS: How would you describe your artistic practice in relation to AND SURRENDER, and how did this group of artists come together for the exhibition?

Charlotte Colgate: Well, I curated the show, but it started off with a piece that I started filming about 2 years ago, actually. It’s based on ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is an online phenomenon. They have quite long videos, and it is always about sound or about tactile things and how people get these shivers in response to certain stimuli. So I started filming this piece, a tryptic, based on three different props that are quite common in ASMR videos – the cone, the rope, and a piece of plastic. And then I moved to Hong Kong for a year, so I planned to show it, but I went away, and when I came back I decided to show it finally. I also decided to be in total control and to use ASMR as an inspiration. So then I reached out to artists who had a similar slant to their works and that I thought I could work well with.

S: It also seems to me that there is a strong emphasis on the senses, and how art can titillate these different senses. What is exactly that interests you in this connection of art and bodily sense?

CC: I think it is how everything together can be pretty overwhelming. For example, if you go to see an amazing gig, the music, the lights, the closeness of the people, the temperature of the room, and everything all together, can emulate strong feelings. This can happen with artworks as well. It does not need to be a static thing that you are looking at. It can be more dynamic, or it can be an experience.

S: In relation to that, what was your goal with And Surrender, if you had any?

CC: Hm, it is a good question. The goal probably is just to have a different gallery experience. Because it was also important to have this show in a gallery space, and not in a basement or outside, or anything like that. So the environment is very controlled, and also it is very different from coming to a general show or opening. With this one they might have to stay a little bit longer and give a little bit of input as well.

S: It is interesting that you say that, because based on the opening of the show, it indeed seems that the exhibition challenges or re-configures the traditional idea of the gallery setting, experience, and the role of the spectator. So how does And Surrender re-configures these traditional positions exactly?

CC: I think they maybe have to engage a little bit more and concentrate. And even if in that moment they think ‘Oh, I really don’t want to do this’ or ‘I’m really not into this’, then that’s also positive in my eyes, because it’s having a definite response to the works. So instead of being very passive and just always letting things wash you by, I’d rather kind of make them react in one way or another.

S: So could we maybe say that this is not only an immersive art project, but also a relational one?

CC: Yeah, definitely.

S: Did And Surrender meet your expectations, overall?

CC: Yes, I think it possibly exceeded them. I thought more people would have less of a dramatic reaction, I was quite shocked that they had very strong feelings about the pieces. Even though that’s what I was pushing for, I did not exactly expect it to happen to this extent.

S: You emphasize the feelings of the spectator. For me it seems like that these feelings root in the body. In this way, the body of the spectator shifts into the focus of the show. Thus, where does exactly the boundary of artwork and the spectator’s body lie in the context of And Surrender?

CC: I think I’m always for to push that boundary a little bit. It is also up to the spectator how much they allow to the boundary to be crossed. For example, with the Georgie Harrison piece, where you can look down into this box in quite a compromising position and then somebody maybe will interact with you, is possibly a bit unexpected, but in case of the other interactions we asked the participants ‘do you mind if we do this?’, so people were more invited into this game and they were able to decide if they would like to play along or not.

S: Pushing the boundaries in this sense is then another goal of the exhibition?

CC: Yes, certainly.

S: How do you see the future of immersive art?

CC: In general, I think with people like Marina Abramović and performance artists who are coming out with bigger and bigger pieces that people can get involved in, and even in Berlin there are a lot of performance pieces and this whole thing seems to be quite common now, so I think it will keep growing bigger and better.

S: What is next on your agenda?

CC: We would like to do another show in the next couple of months, that would be more focused on sound and performance. And then there is also an immersive artist from London that I am planning to work with in October, but I can’t really say more about that at this point.

S: Yet, what can we expect? A bit more of synesthesia?

CC: A lot of music, performance, and interaction with the audience. And yes, lot of synesthesia, and actually it will cover every sense of the human body.

About And Surrender