You are Welcome, devised by artist Sarah Carne, is a 4 week participatory event at Tate Exchange that is asking people to consider how can art make a difference to people’s lives and society. In 2015 People United commissioned Sarah to explore the theme of Love at Southbank Centre. In this blog post Sarah introduces her new work You Are Welcome and explains how you can take part.
I last added a post in June 2016 after my mini Beach Hut 136 residency (you can read it here).
In it I was writing about a slight feeling of ambivalence towards my series of videos for the Love commission This is a Public Service Announcement. I don’t struggle with the films themselves but with their instructional nature – I ask people to look up, to say good morning, to have a moment of exchange. I ask politely, in a self deprecating manner but really I’m asking people to carry out a specific act and by implication criticising their current behaviour.
I’ve been trying to unpick this – in the blog I start by sitting on a train wondering why asking people to say good morning is annoying – I think it has something to do with my position in the videos – imparting information, large scale and above head height looking down and interrupting. Maybe it’s me struggling with the sense that I’m imposing my ideas rather than providing a space where people contribute their own.
One of the prompts for thinking about this was the general horror prompted by the London commuter who handed out badges encouraging people to talk to each other. A heartfelt positive action that was never going to get a groundswell of support. It did make me think, however, about badges – they are a brilliant, ubiquitous, cheap, democratic communicator and you don’t need to speak, to interrupt, to have confidence your statement is welcomed.
Jump forward almost a year and You are Welcome has opened at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern. This is a 4 week participatory event I was invited to curate in which people are being asked how can art make a difference to people’s lives and society. The invitation to come to Tate Exchange and tell us what you think is all over the building, next to artworks, on wall maps and postcards and on the back of toilet doors.
Once visitors reach the space they are met by a Welcome sign translated into over 40 languages by Tate staff across all 4 sites and an invitation to tell a story about a time when art made a difference. This can be drawn, written, contributed to a sound wall, mapped on the world and voted about on a twenty foot wall. Most importantly it can also be contributed online at www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/tate-exchange
What they are also met by is one of the videos from the Southbank Centre Royal Festival Hall, This is a Public Service Announcement: Good Morning. Now on a plinth at human scale height I hope to welcome not impose. As people leave they are thanked for their contribution and offered a badge, saying good morning in a variety of languages, to offer to a stranger or friend.
I will continue to think about these questions of welcome and invitation versus instruction.
I might need another trip to Hut 136.
Visit: You are Welcome, Tate Exchange, Level 5, Tate Modern
Thursday – Sunday 12.00 – 18.00 runs until 11th June.