I am on perhaps the third step down before I notice how soft the ground is underfoot. Carpet muffles my entrance and I feel oddly elated to have picked up on this, the first in a series of spatial interventions so subtle that those unfamiliar with the space are heard to wonder, where is the art?
FUZZYVIBES’ usual white-cube whiteness of walls and fluorescents has been replaced (or displaced) by creamy bland Spanish White and the kind of banal wall sconces one assumes will always command prime shelf space at the local Placemakers. The details are so insipid they are almost camouflaged, until you look again and notice the extremity of their insipidity.
When I enter, the immediate space at the bottom of the stairs is empty of bodies, and yet it feels smaller than I remember, and then I realise that’s because it is. There is a charismatic buzz of voices, made enigmatic behind blue vertical blinds, which it occurs to me I haven’t seen in a long time. We had blinds like this when I was a kid, everyone did. They are placeholder blinds, show-home blinds, cheap, cheerless blinds that offend nobody and everybody, if you had to live with them. My Mum always talked about getting curtains made to replace ours. Where does a person buy blinds like these, in 2015? I am suddenly aware that relics of my childhood have become retro, and the realisation makes me uncomfortable.
I want to step right through the blinds, the quickest way to join the party, but I know how these blinds work, everybody does. When I finally find my way to that other, buzzing space, it’s like finding the sweet spot at a house party: the smallest room in the place crowded with the largest amount of people, recalling buses, saunas, and the Freudian supposition that all we really want is a return to the womb.
a slow dance to elevator music is not only site-specific, disrupting the feel and flow of a familiar place (even by literally putting up walls), but also audience-specific. Though undoubtedly capable of being many things to many people, it feels made for me and people like me, people with the same references as me: middle-class people. People who do DIY (or at least know people who do), people who have been trained to leave their shoes by the door and ask to be excused. Charlotte Drayton’s installation is bland, but it is self-consciously, purposefully bland, and I think bland with a heavy sense of irony (we are offered Lindauer in plastic cups at the opening). It is an aesthetic that connotes a lifestyle, but a lifestyle of absolute normalcy.
For reasons I cannot fully fathom, there was a time in my childhood when weekends were spent traipsing around model housing complexes. My sister and I would be intermittently bored and breathless with excitement, rushing from room to room, hoping to stake our claim on the better bedroom in case this turned out to be our new home. I vividly remember stealing a single glass pebble from a bowl in one such living room, although I called them “wishing stones” back then.
These are the kind of strange, subjective experiences Drayton’s work seems to evoke. Perhaps a slow dance to elevator music has refashioned FUZZYVIBES as a middle-class Everyplace (or Anyplace), ready to be filled, fashioned, furnished or fucked up; just give it a family, a memory, a story, just fill it. Or perhaps it is just a remodelled white-cube, painted a slightly different shade of white, waiting patiently for you to get the joke.
By Lucinda Bennett