The installation and performance
took place on Valentines Day 2003 in a life drawing room within the
college. The intention was to explore the nostalgia and sentimentality
inherent in romantic music and love songs and to subvert it into an
(un)familiar form. The music itself was chosen for both its sickly
sweetness and kitsch quality or for its status as ultimate examples
of the genre. The love song is one of the most popular and enduring
forms of music as the constant re-recording of certain songs shows.
The sentiments expressed in songs of this genre could be said to be
the only truly universal and timeless themes within vocal, popular
music. In the installation I intended to subvert notions of sentimentality
and question the intentions of the songs and our familiarity and fondness
The installation was intended as a presentation of reworked familiar
classics and a live performance including both familiar and more obscure
songs. Material was gathered mainly on vinyl from charity shops, junk
shops and from donations from friends and family. Certain songs used
for the reworkings were downloaded from the internet as I was unable
to find them on vinyl.
I created a text piece for the installation which was simply printed
and displayed on the wall. The text was a number of Haiku formed from
the lyrics of Bryan Adams` 'Everything I Do'. The text was used in
its entirety and the individual haiku used words only once, and only
from the words remaining. The leftover text was arranged to form a
The space itself was an odd combination of the collected machines
and familiar sitting room objects and furniture. I used my own armchair,
sofa and table to create a space which was both domestic and comfortable
but also imposing and unsettling with the mass of machines. I also
utilised objects from the life room, vase of flowers, tea cups and
saucers, bedside table to extend the space to fill the room as much
as possible in order to create a cohesive and functional environment.
A raised platform used for life drawing was made up to look like a
bed and placed in the corner, just in case anyone got in the mood.
A number of other objects were used including some classic romantic
novels, Turgenev`s 'On the Eve' and Dostoyevsky`s 'A Gentle Spirit'.
A small shelf was put up to hold these and a number of cassette tapes.
In addition to my own presentation and performance work I invited
a couple of guest performers. I invited my then current now ex-partner
Lou Laurens to perform on keyboard. She gave an instrumental rendition
of 'My Funny Valentine' on a toy piano. The other guest performance
was by Sam Knight a.k.a. 'Photorealism' who gave a cut up karaoke
version of 'Stand by your Man' with a large rubber cock and small
microphone in his mouth.