Bartram O'Neill


Angela Bartram Mary O'Neill


Performing Lost Spaces

Angela Bartram and Douglas Gittens

The interior of the contemporary art gallery provides its users with a sterilised laboratory for the placement and experience of art. Increasingly, its bleached interior presents an a priori condition for the legitimate assignment of artworks within the complex milieu of the contemporary city. Such interiors have become an architectural typology, a predetermined homogenous non-place within which artworks can reside. In this sense we can look to Lefebvre in order to understand the condition of the gallery space for ‘inasmuch as abstract space tends towards homogeneity, towards the elimination of existing differences or peculiarities, a new space cannot be born (produced) unless it accentuates differences’ (Lefebvre: 1991, 52).

The work of the artist, by contrast, liberates difference. More specifically, the art of performance simultaneously generates and exposes marginal space within the gallery interior; it is a corporeal action that deposits residual stains and blemishes across the galleries internal skin, leaving marks and traces that resist homogeneity to create a temporary site of differential experience. The lost, forgotten or overlooked marginal zones and irregularities of the gallery space become a point of ephemeral spectacle and this paper addresses the impact of this spatial and corporeal collision. The research that informs and situates these phenomena traces the lost and unrecorded spaces, irregularities, marks, blemishes and scars that exist within the gallery space before, during and after the performance act. Recorded through orthographic drawing conventions, the research generates a narrative cartography of corporeal intervention within the gallery interior.

The co-authors of this research form a practical and tangible collaboration that fuses the dynamics and complexities of the performer’s body with the fixed conventions of architectural drawings. This paper will explore how the body can become an instrument to record and describe the gallery interior beyond, yet from within, traditional architectural systems of representation.