Performance commission for Tate St Ives at the Barbara Hepworth Museum ( Art Cornwall Now, February 2007)
As the title Miss –Readings indicates this performance intentionally re-interpreted history and place whilst exploring equality and gender issues for women artists. Subverting expectations and context of the historically and politically correct museum tour, an alternative tour was created that responded to contradiction and tension in Dame Barbara Hepworth’s life, space and oeuvre.
As a humorous and critical intervention that played with the persona and performance of the museum guide, it was intended to be banal, esoteric, slightly irreverent and absurd as well as informative. It included live recordings of Hepworth talking about her work, a feminist review of her achievement according to the Guerilla Girls, an introduction to the ‘stereophonic’ nature of her work, the relationship of her work to her lived reality of motherhood, and playing Hepworth sculpture ‘top trumps’.
Engaging audiences by bringing the museum space to life and contemplating Dame Barbara’s achievement with new perspectives, it looked at how Hepworth succeeded: in spite of. In spite of being female and a mother, in spite of male critics, in spite of comparisons to her arch-enemy and friend Henry Moore.
My work often explores new dialogues and possibilities for thinking differently about women and their representation. I hoped to strip away layers of public expectation and preciousness about museum spaces and introduce new ideas about Barbara Hepworth’s phenomenal contemporary success.