Cécile B. Evans at Tate Liverpool
Gabrielle de la Puente
the ground floor gallery in tate liverpool is white now with flat
screens over walls sad about: bodies caught in wave pools,
rockets splitting in the sky,
simultaneous pool party movement,
There are damp windows with flowers too/ and a CGI Youtube celebrity whose face looks like plasticine. these screens show little unnatural disasters/, while out in gallery space, there are three vertical TVs standing together. each houses a pole dancer lit in a black studio. the three spin slowed-down muscular on their metal * divine powers in (outer) space. Thick plastic sheets cut the space again, and I like the warehouse columns that hold the ceiling up - how they matter in the same way.
This is the set for the play, Sprung a Leak, by artist Cécile B. Evans. her players: a sad robot dog who yawns with its whole puppy body in a octagonal cage; a square wooden fountain that drums at climaxes; and two child size robots that talk and gesture around the space, flex little segmented hands out from fists. the robots are melodramatic, and they have very good posture. i think about their rehearsals for a minute
in the national gallery/the walker/galleries with red quilted walls ~
you know those busy gold framed oil paintings that depict a lone panicked robed muscley man running from something, while three angels point down, looking angry over him, all down from the inky WELKIN,sky. There’s a tree on fire, a fissure in the floor, and u think, god whoever painted this probably murdered their neighbour in Venice back in the day and they lowkey know they r going to hell. i thought of those painting stories when I watched Cécile’s tech fable. i thought about tragicomedies, too, the US election. (Sprung a Leak tells the story of desperate robots in moral servitude to their also robot dog who is in love with a semi fictional problematic youtube fave called Liberty. The screen dimension world is in danger and the YT girl (double-entendre haha) dies when the robots try to connect with her. The whole scene is metaphysically reset, and they time travel back before Liberty was killed, etc. ? etc. ? the end). Sprung a Leak, like John Martin x Eastenders, of image and drama, / it is overwrought with self-doubt and specifically lots of worry for our emotional dystopian future. its drama is of a state that matches the tate visitor who comes with an iPhone in hand. water aesthetic instead of fire. I was on instagram while I watched it the first time through, which is okay cause it has a tone like a 2016 mannerist painting, a tone of OMG - i mean, You know how you type OMG but you are not really omg-ing; you haha but you are quiet. Digital voice has an energy we deploy within that territory only, but sometimes it crosses over, sometimes you say lol in conversation with your cousin. Cécile is playing in that gap, that is where her watchseries.it Coronation Street is. she has taken that voice like ursula from ariel, and it charrrrmed me. it felt easy on my art eyes. its content info and politics are delivered in a way i am very ready to listen to. and it was suitable for the artist to voice all the characters. with the ‘she’s AMAZING’ type script (the robots speaking about Liberty), it offers that american-girl online urgency that demands life or death, that calls Ariana Grande mum because she gives us life. the play emotes OMG ventriloquist millennialism - important, because Sprung a Leak rewrites the narrative that machines and corporate lifestyles are draining us of our emotion, conscience, and complex identity. When the robots say, ‘I AM DEAD, MOP THE FLOOR WITH MY BODY,’ it’s funny cause robot-bodies are probably not very absorbent. n so I love what the robots mean. its like this room in the tate is a whatsapp group in art-future, and something is kicking off, but it’s good and exciting because your girls are sorting it out. the drama holds you and notifications soothe. You type loudly, but don’t make a sound. You fix the world together.
*I watched it three times. I read the wall print as the second run started, and I finally got the dynamics and characters (I normally avoid wall texts but I think you should read it so the characters feel familiar. thats the only problemo with them all having the same voice).
**I think it is very good of tate liverpool to have worked with the computer people department at the university of Liverpool. I like this local resourcing, like when people say they buy local produce but here u got arts and robots not just dirty carrots. Makes me like the exhibition even more, ngl.
/ exhibition details here, on til march '17