Arm’s Length Government Body — Celine, Glasgow, 2016
Arm’s Length Government Body is a performance which brings art language down to reckon with the most base of communications, that of a parent to their child. Subverting the tradition of Institutional critique in contemporary art into a domestic setting, the film takes place across the different rooms of a bare apartment. Performed to camera the artist speaks to you, the audience, as if you were her child.
This performance was conceived in response to and for Céline as a space, a gallery in a flat in Glasgow and the wider context of an artist run space within a broader arts ecology . The property is owned by Network Rail, an “arm’s length government body” and cannot be owned by the occupants. The performance followed the pattern of a bedtime routine of a child throughout the domestic space of the gallery. The figure of the pre-language child is replaced by a mute audience. The script is made up of collaged fragments from arts organisations’ promotional statements interspersed with encouragements, scoldings and terms of endearment. The script is performed directly to different audience members in a tone and manner of a parent speaking to their child. The title has a double meaning referring both to funded arts spaces and funding bodies and also to the idea of the child as a body being an extension of state apparatus.
“Right time for a drink then. Offer breast Sigh You don’t want it tonight?
It is our mission to place the artist, viewer, user and participant at the heart of all our activities?… No?
We do this through an evolving programme of public events foregrounding performance, debate and collective learning? Offer other breast
The other one? ….social spaces, which bring together allies through new, shared experiences?
Okay I think it’s time for a bath if you don’t want this. Iiiiiiiiiit’s Bathtime! Yey!” Leave room