Highpoint Engages With Public Art

1128publicWhen you think of food courts, you probably think of a few main purposes: giving shoppers easy, comfortable access to food, a spot rest with a cup of coffee, or a place to meet up with friends. Hosting an auditory art experience isn’t likely to be high on that list.

Highpoint Shopping Centre’s food court is the perfect setting for just such a thing this week as Tamara Saulwick holds performances of her site-specific work Public. The audience, who purchase tickets for their spaces in advance, are given wireless headphones that draw them into “a series of intimate encounters that complicate the boundaries between public and private.” Shoppers in the food court become part of the tableau as performers move through the crowd, often unidentified.

From the work’s description:

“PUBLIC is an audio-led hybrid performance event, which interrogates the nature of public space and intimacy. Located in a shopping centre food court, it explores the unspoken boundaries between public & private, and the protocols surrounding watching & being watched. It examines the tensions arising from our need to be with others, and also to be alone. In a shopping centre food-court the audience members, equipped with wireless headphones, experience a multidimensional audio design that frames, augments, & disrupts their perceptions of the environment.

Live performers work in conjunction with and in counterpoint to audio & site – their activities at first indistinguishable from the activities of people around them, become increasingly performative & declared. As the work unfolds the audience members wearing wireless headphones are gradually woven into the logic of the event. The demarcation between audience, performers & the public are destabilised. Questions arise: Who is watching whom? Who is performing now? Who is the real audience? Gently & incrementally PUBLIC reconfigures the public space and the people within it.”

The work is part of Big West Festival, and it is, of course, performed with complete cooperation from the center and the GPT Group. It’s opened to positive reviews.

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