Since 2000 I’ve been exploring the line between performance and ‘normal’ behaviour and/or ‘work’. I began to develop Movimento Ordinari (“a global project to change the world in small ways”) and out of this has come International Cleaning, a series of short video works where the act of cleaning becomes performance.
My interest in cleaning is also about how manual labour is perceived. When people see a cleaner at work they tend to look away or not really engage. I’ve had this experience of invisibility with International Cleaning. As a slight foil I usually dress smartly and behave in a slightly formal way. The gestures and movements of the cleaning become a ritual act that sometimes approaches dance or trance.
In parallel, I’ve been exploring the circular café table as an international metaphor. How often do we sit in cafés gazing at the table, waiting for the appearance of our order to occupy the space in front of our eyes? How many of us work and think creatively in cafés? I’ve begun to see the table as a vacant space to be filled, like a blank canvas or an empty stage.
the Park Cafe, LillehammerWaiters clear and clean tables.
In Lillehammer I was an artist/waiter/worker at the Park Cafeen.
I appeared quite like and quite unlike the other workers in the café, although I was part of the team. I talked to customers, but only in English. Some people knew I was an artist, some didn’t.
I did everything with a certain deliberation. Sometimes I made actions to the point of ritual repetition. Sometimes I cleaned or moved things that no-one else bothered with. Occasionally I did things for purely aesthetic (not functional) reasons. The relationship with staff and customers was subtle and non-confrontational. The interior of the building and the seating area outside were my unfolding creative space.
One round table was set aside and used as a tableau, with a video camera permanently focused on it. Customers were invited to collaborate on this evolving table project.
I kept a daily journal of my experiences, which was relayed back to this website. These diary entries were then translated into Norwegian and appeared in the newspaper Gudbrandsolen Dagningen.
RICHARD LAYZELL – http://www.rescen.net/routeplanner/