Rebuilding Mayfield, 2010

Rebuilding Mayfield_1Rebuilding Mayfield, 2010
Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland OR
Gestures of Resistance Curated by Judith Leemann and Shannon Stratton

The Guinness Book of World Records, lists the first whisper in the current record-holding “telephone game” as “They inherited the world and then the army came and scorched it.” The final words passed on were “Mayfield College.”

In Rebuilding Mayfield, Sara Black and John Preus performed a live build-out of the museum’s ground floor, starting with inherited lumber and artists’ requests and treating the gallery as a workshop space that acts simultaneously as platform, town square and performance installation. This structure will become the staging area for all subsequent resident artists, who will transform and manipulate the space through their performances and objects.

Limited to one-way verbal communication through a small portal cut into a 24-foot central wall, Preus and Black attempted to produce two identical worlds on each side of that wall in an exploration of the zone between transmission and reception. In the spirit of the “exquisite corpse”, Sara or John (each leading the design and communication on alternate days) would respond to the previous day’s build out. Through a single one-way utterance at the outset of each day, instructions were spoken through the central portal, the remainder of the day left to interpretation and building. At the end of the two-week build-out the central wall was removed to unveil similarities and distinctions.

Rebuilding Mayfield examines the condition of subjectivity, the interdependence of what is inherited and what is produced, and the uncertainty of perception.