Unofficial Unworks

Photo Paul McGee

Unofficial Unworks are Unexperiences, Unimages, Unvisitors, Unhere appearing unsolicited at art and other public events, enacted by visitor-performers. As public we usually conform, performing our visitor roles, consuming quietly what is in front of our eyes. As artists, more or less consciously, we follow the structures of validation, codes, protocols, implicit artworld's requirements, hoping to be seen, invited and appreciated. Visitors and artists can and should interfere in these dynamics. It should be expected that artists are sometimes playing outside the rules. And visitors too. 

Access to prestigious art events depends not only on the quality of work, but also on networking, identity, place of residence, art trends, luck, and compromises must be made to please implicit expectations and paradigms. Culturally, it seems to be less and less space for awareness and deviations from implicit codes, narratives and conventions. Unofficial Unworks affects the implicit conditions and reverses some hierarchies between artists and institutions. It uses the institutional dynamics as medium, aiming for playfulness and transgression instead of institutional critique – it goes meta. Besides all this, the big art events are the perfect environments for the unworks:

Visitors-performers shift their attitudes and moods, embodying and slightly distorting suspicion, awe, confusion, pensiveness, sadness, boredom, joy, alienation, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, hypersensitivity and other possible states in which art visitors can be. Sometimes the reactions seem to be related to the space, to other visitors, to the works, or to shared expectations and conventions. Unexperiences affects the experience of having an experience, adding a meta layer of self reference to the event. Affecting the ways of encountering the work becomes the work. 

Unimages introduces glitches in the behaviors of certain visitors-performers, subtle anomalies in their self-presentations, in their images, deviations from the plausible comportments meant to affect the others' automatic readings and perceptions. The capacity of seeing and understanding, of forming coherent images about what is in front of our eyes, may be questioned and refreshed. 

Unvisitors are performers acting as visitors for the duration of the exhibition. The ambiguous meeting between real and “fake” visitors can create a slight dissonance in the space, an incongruence between the two types of presence. The visitors can become suspicious about who is performing but also the subjects of others' suspicion, becoming performers. A meta layer that includes the visitors’ own roles in the art experiences is added to the event.

Unhere is activated by visitors-performers that seem to be out of place, alienated from the surrounding, unhere. In general we conform to the environments, we want to be adjusted to "here and now", to behave adequately, even in art, and usually that's fine for obvious pragmatic reasons. But sometimes is good to undo these automated submissions, to open up or transcend the given reality, to go Unhere.