Guest post: Artist Ingrid Plum on creating a Museums at Night performance at Phoenix Gallery, Brighton

Today’s guest post comes from artist Ingrid Plum, who performed as part of a Museums at Night event at Brighton’s Phoenix Gallery, and here shares her tips for ensuring a successful event.

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I was asked to perform as part of Museums at Night as part of the Phoenix Gallery’s exhibition “Shifting Boundaries”.

A group of visitors exploring a sculpture gallery after dark

The Shifting Boundaries exhibition at Brighton's Phoenix Gallery draws a crowd after dark. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

The durational performance took place at sunset by candlelight, which marked out the performance area, and lasted 30 minutes. It accompanied my installation “The Letting Go” – I moved around the gallery in slow motion singing long notes, spelling out the words tagging the objects at a speed too slow to be understood.

The silhouette of a woman in a gallery walking a candlelit pathway

A scene from Ingrid's performance in the gallery

It was unusual to perform in a gallery, as I normally make site-specific work. The space highlighted the minimal and calming nature of the performance. During the Q&A afterwards, I found it fascinating how revealing some questions were. It reminded me that as an artist I am balancing the personal nature of work like this whilst allowing space for the audience to bring themselves into it.

It was advertised on the gallery website, through local radio interviews, via e-mail mailouts and via Facebook and Twitter.  The response was very positive and encouraging.  I had been worried that there wouldn’t be enough ‘razmatazz’ with only my performance taking place, but it showed that opening a museum or gallery at night doesn’t have to be an event contrary to the usual environment. It can be an extension of that culturally nurturing and contemplative space we all get to enjoy in a gallery.

A woman surrounded by objects and a framed picture

Ingrid with her installation, The Letting Go. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

Dos and Don’ts for staging a Museums at Night event:

  • DO make sure you communicate clearly in advance with everyone who will be participating, so no one has any unexpected demands on the night
  • DO take into account what other events are happening locally on that night
  • DON’T expect the same crowd of people you would get in the daytime
  • DO give the audience directions on where they are allowed to go and where they’re not (people generally feel a bit naughty about being in a gallery at night)
  • DO get several types of documentation – photos, video etc:  remember, it’s a one-off performance!
  • DO go on Twitter, Facebook, your own website etc. and publicise the event like mad. Bear in mind you’re asking people to come along to something out of the ordinary – explain what they can expect to see and why they shouldn’t miss it.
  • DON’T serve alcoholic drinks unless you’re prepared to deal with the consequences!
A smiling woman with coloured stickers on her face

Ingrid Plum

Ingrid Plum is a Danish installation and performance artist working with video, sound, sculpture and voice. She is based in Brighton. For more info on Ingrid’s work, please visit www.ingridplum.com

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