To kick off our digital programme 2020 we're bringing you a video of a performance and installation by Glen Ogden - Sand Shifters. Glen joined Assembly House as a studio holder in 2019 and recently created and filmed Sand Shifters in our main project space.
Below, Glen will give you some background to his practice and what this particular artwork explores.
You can find the full film of the performance here, on Youtube. You can see more of Glen's artwork on his instagram - @glenthemaker
Glen Ogden’s socially engaged practice explores the role of the working man in historic and contemporary society, through performance and film - imbued with a sculptural understanding of space, time and locality. He emphasises the work, rest, work, rest mantra of our time, through repetitive and cyclical structures that evidence the physical manifestation of humans as tools.
‘Sand shifters’ (2019) explores the principle of orbiting as a physical manifestation of Human and Tools in the form of a performance. The Performance consists of four workers in slightly varying overalls entering the industrially charged space of Assembly House. A hessian sandbag suspended in the centre is complemented with instruments of industry such as a lifting hook, Buckets, a Ladder and squeegees that cumulatively deliver the atmosphere of manual labour and working Britain.
Each Worker takes position around the industrial centre point; the worker at the bottom of the bag removes the handkerchief that has been stuffed into the hole in the bag referencing the act of clocking in. As the Machine-like operation begins, the four roles are evident; the bucket switcher, lifter, pourer and returner working in harmony to meet their self-fulfilling duties. The division of labour evident only enhances the repetitive essence of the work; alienating them from the process of production and in turn their contribution to the larger system. The faster the workers supply the bag, the faster they must move the sand in order to keep up with the flow of demand. With Efficiency at the forefront of our time, enjoyment of life has been overrun by the effectiveness of life.
‘Sand Shifters’ challenges this by being a self-contained cycle that is being worked efficiently; however, it serves no effective benefit to society. The repetitive and pointless nature of what these workers are striving so hard to achieve comes across as humorous; and enjoyment can be seen between the natural interactions of each performer. I gave instructions on the duties of each role, but not the attitude or feelings they should have towards the task. Extending on Sierra's strategy to critique conflating systems of value & exchange, each worker is on a £10 per/hour wage - in accordance to the length they could endure the intense physical labour. Deepening the debate over the function of the installation and the paradox that it creates by providing employment, deemed positive in society, opposed against it serving no societal contribution other than its own sustainability.
- Glen Ogden