Artist and Child: 13 Rooms

We embarked on an adventure today to explore Kaldor Public Arts Projects 13 Rooms with the second youngest member of the BIG team, who is 4 years old. There are in fact 12 purpose built rooms in Pier 2/3, each with a door, where live performers interpret some of the worlds best known performance artists conceptual work. It is like a labyrinth of unexpected surprise with each room containing  a unique experience. Almost like a choose your own adventure story we journeyed through the rooms at Twyla’s pace following her interest and engaging for as long or as little time as she liked.

There were tribes of children enjoying the spaces today all of whom were welcomed into the experience by the performers and gallery staff, and in turn participated with interest, enthusiasm and respect. There was an overwhelming sense of shared experience and a true disruption of hierarchy in that children and adults genuinely shared the performance spaces side by side, interacting and contributing to the nature of the work together.

Twyla’s impromptu response to Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye

Simon Fujiwara Future/Perfect 2012
“He looks like he is in a clam shell or a space ship. he is asking lots of questions but I don’t think he really wants me to answer them.” Twyla, age 4

Allora and Calzadilla Revolving Door, 2011
“They are concentrating so hard. I love this room because every time I come in I almost get squashed! You have to make the same rhythm with your feet to get out of the way.” Twyla, age 4. 

BIG Ideas

1. Spend some time before you enter the wharf talking to children about ways of interacting and responding to the spaces so that they can have a positive experience. If possible see the exhibit independently beforeyou take children so you have an idea of what you are walking into and can immerse yourself at your own pace (though don’t tell them too much as the biggest thrill was the element of surprise as to what might be behind the next door!) Depending on their age you could remind them to talk in soft voices, enter and exit rooms quietly, and watch for a while when entering rooms so they get a sense of how they can interact and engage

2. In Swap 2011 by Roman Ondak a performer facilitates an improvised process of negotiating the swapping of personal objects offered by audience members. Talk to children beforehand to see if they would like to take something to exchange. We spent more than 45 minutes in this room and Twyla was thrilled to swap a small brooch for an eco shopping bag. Another little girl swapped a pencil and an impromptu story about a gnome for some easter eggs.

3. Make sure you ask for the responsive children’s program on entering the wharf.  There are coloured pencils on the table in the cafe so bring some paper so you can draw your responses to your favourite rooms together, or write down as many words as you can to describe your experience.

On leaving Marina Abramovic Luminosity Twyla experiments to see how long she can hold her arms up in the air. “This is amazing mummy, is she glued to the wall? This is very cool I think it’s magic. How does she balance? Her arms are definitely not glued on. Her balancing is amazing!”

 Laura Lima Man=Flesh/Woman=Flesh-FLAT, 1997

“I think that man might get bumped. How did that man get in there? I think he feels scared in there because it’s dark. I love lying on the floor to peek in at him.”

on Apr 27, 2013

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