Tuesday, 30 October 2007

‘Therapy for the Masses.’
Davina and Daniel’s 8 Weeks of Change, Space Station Sixty-Five, London.
Sinead McCarthy, October 2007.

Davina and Daniel’s Eight Weeks of Change proposes a tried and tested mode of self help that can make that all important change for you. The gallery space is transformed into a sterile, white walled waiting room and treatment zone, labelled and minimally decorated for an authentic take on the medical environment. The parallels between this and the obligatory white space of a gallery are comparable from the outset. Davina and Daniel are embracing ideas around participatory art practice, combining this with self help, to create their own brand of art therapy.

As a visitor to the clinic you are invited to take part in some pre-planned tasks that evaluate the treatment required. The artists’ have employed equally enthusiastic assistants poised to interact with you (to even sing to you) to make your therapy a success. This combination of artists and agents on a face-to-face basis is actually rather successful. It is easy to feel suspicious and unsure of the merits in participatory art of this nature. Indeed, the recent influx of relational work in order to symbolise a more overt interaction with the artist, combined with the public being instrumental in the success; is something that can not always be negotiated successfully and believably.

Davina and Daniel, however, do manage to succeed in this installation/performance for two major reasons; they are satirising self help, a genre which has already become something like public property. You are all collectively aware that their brand of therapy is not to be believed. Indeed, the disclosure of the artists’ self-created credentials in the press release emphasise this. Paradoxically, there is something genuine in this show and the intention they have to interact with their audience on this level. When they speak with you, you feel they empathise wholeheartedly with you. Perhaps this is all part of the plan, but the energy that they have devoted to this composition; from producing a Therapy of the Day to the One to One consultations you can experience, is a major investment on their part.

Upon leaving the clinic I felt invigorated and happy. And surely this was their intention. They offered me some therapy; an offer of a collective experience, which I accepted and ultimately I felt in retrospect, that this made me feel better. Perhaps this ‘therapy’ was purely a metaphor and the immediate interaction was its success, but I don’t think that this matters. Davina and Daniel are on a mission of life affirmation. Job done.

Space Station 65, is situated in East Dulwich. Davina and Daniel’s Eight Weeks of Change is on Saturday and Sundays until 11th November.


MFA Curating 2007/09 said...

Why you didn't send me this one i don't know. This is such a precise and elegant evaluation of the experience. Are you perhaps biased because you liked the exhibiton?


MFA Curating 2007/09 said...

Yes, I agree with Tom, your writing flows beautifully and your description is clear.

You mentioned that the artists' had created a deliberate comparison between the ‘White Cube’ space and a medical environment. I get the impression that this may have a relation to the idea of self-help as public property, but I may be wrong, I will have to see the show.

Also, it is clear to me what you are referring to when you write about the growing cynicism around relational art. However, a brief example could clarify this further. It's not essential but could be useful to a reader unfamiliar with the term relational art. (Of course there is the word count to contend with).

This review did an important thing; it intrigued me and makes me want to experience the work for myself.

Well done, Sinaed.