Kimbal Quist Bumstead | This Is Our House | April 2011

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ART IMITATES LIFE IMITATES ART

I have, over the last few years, been fortunate enough to work on various occasions with Kimbal Bumstead a most singular performance artist if ever there was one. If it would be possible to refer to someones practice and thought processes as a Gesamkunstwerk then I would certainly use it here. After being party to the process of deciding how a work should operate and what it should involve I can honestly say that no stone was left unturned, no reason left unrationalised.

In this first work commisioned by BasementArtsProject the brief was to create something that drew inspiration and material from the nature of the location and its inhabitants. The resultant piece involved drawings and a scale model of the entire house surrounded by photographic portraits and the live manipulation and transmission of voice recordings of guests. In this scenariothe basement becomes a repository of information pertaining to a specific point in time; two potentially conflicting purposes meet in a confined space and a strange confused dialogue occurs. But a dialogue it is – consisting of 27 voices chattering at once, emanating from the chimmney downstairs as a party occurs upstairs. Although the installation is downstairs the focus of said installation is in the kitchen. Dropping in on the artwork in progress every now and then the layers of voices increase as new guests arrive and a sleeping baby elsewhere in the house is skyped to a plinth in a darkened corner.

Although the event finishes at 9pm the last remaining participants are just leaving at about 10:30. Afterwards we [Debs and Kim and myself] sit around the table and drink a bottle of vodka as the sound piece continues to loop ad infinitum in the basement, ghostly residue of a party that refuses to end; hopefully a metaphor for the BasementArtsProject. Eventually we have to shut it off but the echo of such events continues far beyond the looping sound.

Marconi believed that a sound once made never truly dies but continues on into eternity growing ever fainter, far beyond the reaches of our perception. I like the idea that he could be right.

RETURN TO LIFE

After months of planning, advertising, organising and that most complicated of concepts networking I have finally been able to return to some things I started some time ago. A feeling of deflation has settled across the house after what I would consider a fantastic performance project and installation by Kimbal Bumstead and a very successful launch for the Basement Art Project. As Debs and I start to think about the next project the house has returned to it’s usual function – a dwelling; the loft is once again a room that I conduct my work from and not lodgings for the visiting artist, Debs uses twitter for other purposes and the children are once again children, as opposed to willing stooges in our performance plans.

This is by no means the end though, in fact it is just the beginning as we prepare to take on the Unravel project on Sunday 16th May. The hope is that we will, in the process of staging all of these singular events, find a way of realising a more permanent arts venue for Leeds.

Bruce Davies | April 2011

Photos: Kimbal Quist Bumstead

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