Show: Huis Clos / Planning Line. Mike Ricketts.
Tell: “This work has recently been realised in Frome, Somerset, following an invitation from Foreground to participate in their project Notes from Nowhere. The project involves a poster that combines a quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre (‘hell is other people’) with the telephone number of the local council’s planning department.
“The poster appears in various public spaces around the area that’s regulated by the planning authority concerned. The design of the poster is very basic, inspired by common kinds of informational and street signage. I originally made the work in 2007 as a proposal for a group exhibition in Holland Park, London – an area with particularly draconian planning laws.
“Residents were not supposed to post notices in their front windows, for example. The former Head of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Planning Department lived next door to the show’s venue and he wasn’t very neighbourly! So the poster was originally a response to that very particular situation.
“More broadly, the work reflected an interest I had in making experimental projects in allegedly public spaces, inserting words, objects and images into different situations in ways that mimic existing social activities and simultaneously open up unlikely forms of engagement with particular regulatory authorities.
“In Frome, where two big commercial development plans are currently being contested, the posters were distributed to passers-by in the town centre one Saturday afternoon. People were invited to put them up in public spaces or street-facing windows around the town. Lots took them away, and they quickly began to appear in various locations. The following morning, the commissioners Foreground received an email from Mendip District Council complaining about disruptive calls to their planning department.
“Over the next few days most of the posters around the town were torn down, probably by local residents. One person even fly posted their own specially-printed posters on top of some of mine, criticising the project and the commission.
“It’s been interesting to enact a project planned five years ago for a very different location. I like the ambiguity of the poster. I’m also still really interested in trying to make work in complicated situations, trying to understand social dynamics by ‘trying things out’, finding out where certain boundaries lie by running into them or trying to negotiate them.”
Info: Mike Ricketts lives in Frome, Somerset and works in Somerset and London. Foreground’s Projects’ Notes from Nowhere saw a series of interventions take place in Frome, Somerset, between 6th May and 3rd June 2012. Foreground commissions contemporary visual art projects that explore the relationship between art, its diverse settings and publics and develop new, socially diverse audiences for critically engaged contemporary art.
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