We Do What We're Told
'We Do What We're Told' November 2013, The Street, Kings Cross, London
A public performative installation of a teleprompter autocue speech, confetti, text and sports podium. Built, written and devised by Gloria Lin and Tamara Platisa.
We Do What We’re Told was a performance that dealt in doubles, two-parts and two-faced. The idea of the seen and the unseen action play in coexistent layers which instead of burying and mystifying are used to unveil different levels of processes and institutional critique. Within the faculties of Central Saint Martins TACIT TACTICS performed their piece which in itself dealt with the two-faced nature of institutionalized work. We Do What We’re Told was a public reading of a proposal co-written by duo which was passed on by the The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Juxtaposed with the submitted proposal, however, was the long version, the unedited version of the proposal, riddled with jokes, satire, and personal commentary on the contemporary art scene. The presentation of which calls attention to the differentiating of the two proposals, the professional piece and the casual piece. The proposal they had co-written over eight hours via Google Docs had to undergo one last rendition of reduction into the institutionally acceptable final. The work itself denounces their former self-censorship and presents their former proposal, with its candid conversational nature, as a valid piece of artistic writing, defying the act of it’s institutionalization.
That is the first layer of the performance, the seen action, which in itself exposed both a past seen and unseen action. The second layer is created from the circumstances of the performance itself. At the time of the performance which took part through Central Saint Martins was an Open Studio Event for the BA of Fine Art students. While this event was advertised and promoted as an event open to the public only a select few could gain access into the private institution. A guest list had been distributed online and only those who had RSVP’d the the event were granted access, denoted by a red circular sticker they wore. In this came a coincidental extra layer to the performance, while it critiqued the forcibly two-faced nature of institutionalized art the institution itself acted in it’s own two-faced manner. The behaviour of the institute itself invites it’s own critique of elitism and the self-preserving act of selecting and controlling it’s own audience. While poised as public the work remains only open to those already linked to the work being presented ensuring a certain level of understanding and minimizing the chance of rash criticism.
This proves counter to the performance and work of TACIT TACTICS, as they aim to
critique the institute the institute takes measures to protect itself from critique. The
institute deals in a commerce of media and reputation, the more positive of which the
more cultural capital is gained. (I FEEL I AM GETTING LOST)
The time of the performance serendipitously provides us with a secondary layer of critique and the opportunity for even further layering. An alternate way of understanding We Do What We’re Told is not through the performance, the seen action, but TACIT TACTICS’ unseen action that took place that night. ...
Raf Rennie 2014
An Alternate Way of Remembering "We Do What We're Told"
On Friday the 29th of November, 2013, TACIT TACTICS were due to perform "We Do What We're Told" at 6:00 p.m. behind the barriers of Central Saint Martins, London for the last time that week.
The performance was delayed as TeamTactics snuck friends past security and barriers and was caught on their second attempt. One TeamTactics members' Institutional Identification card which opens the gates to the University, was taken away and the Security guard on duty threatened to report the member and submit a written warning to the University's Control Centre.
Simultaneously, BA Fine Art students hosted an Open Studio Event allowing members of the public into the private institution, to view their works in progress. What this really meant was that only invited members of the public could enter if they appeared on an approved list. A sticker system was put in place, a red dot, signifying that one could enter without an Identification Card. Luckily TeamTactics had previously purchased these same stickers and slide it underneath the barriers to their friends.
During the performance TeamTactics witnessed students passing the Identification cards under the metal fences, directly parallel to to barrier, but in the Securities blind spot.
It is an impossibility of escaping institutional logics, the dilemma of refusing the institution or subverting it and being appropriated by it.
We are both fenced in and kept out.
While the performance aimed to dispel and denounce institutionalization, the circumstances surrounding it aim to prove it is impossible of escaping institutional logics from within. The institute is a self-preserving entity that deals in a commerce of media and reputation. While it can not dictate the nature of work, it can control the circumstances in which that work presented. The artist is both fenced in and kept out as they must work within the institute but are left out of the forming of the circumstances around their work, the outward.
A magician uses a large movement, a misdirection, to distract the watcher from the true happenings. While a large flourish seems like the action, the true action is the one unseen, the trick, the steal, or the set-up. An alternate way of remembering "We Do What We're Told” is not through the work that was presented (the seen), the work that was created within the institute, but by the unseen action, the subversive attempt to take some control of the circumstances of the outward.