These questions have shaped two installations, developed over days and nights spent exploring Shanghai, unable to read Chinese characters, following signage, becoming disoriented, exploring a new area, retracing routes. People-watching in busy urban parks. Ballroom dancing between badminton players and plane trees to Chinese tango melodies. Emerging from underground stations on escalators, getting lost ascending and descending one shopping-mall-filled skyscraper after another. Always on the move, always somewhere new, always exploring.
The methods used to collect material for Weetman’s new work reflect her active exploration inspired by the constant rhythm of the city. Photographs and video clips documenting her passage in the city were filmed quickly and discreetly, barely breaking step as she navigated the city.
|Installation view: a remarkable architecture of stairs"|
Day to day, the physical experience of the city’s change from low rise to high rise life is the stairway. Linear stairs and escalators punctuate the bustle of the metro station, the pace of walkways on the street, and the calm of a 10-storey shopping mall. Henri Lefebvre refers to this in his text on “Rhythmanalysis” which discusses how “stairs rhythm the walk through the city, while at the same time serving as transition between different rhythms... their blatant monumentality imposes on the body and consciousness the requirement of passing from one rhythm to another rhythm, as yet unknown, to be discovered.”
Weetman was guided through the expansive city by a wide array of arrows, an internationally recognisable symbol, on ceilings, walls, and floors. As the skyscrapers are evidence of a changing public space due to population shifts, the increased use of arrows symbolise the increasing population. Without these arrows to direct the mass transit of people through Shanghai’s metro system it feels as though the heavily populated city might grind to a halt.
|Installation view: "Would you tell me, please.." Interactive digital projection.|
Claire Weetman is an artist who, since 2009, has worked internationally on exchanges, residencies and exhibitions in cities including Linz, Schiedam, Istanbul and Shanghai. She studied Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores University (2003), and in 2011 co-founded the artist-led studios and artist network Platform Art St Helens.
A selection of original photograms are available to purchase from the Bluecoat. This work has been made possible with a Re:View professional development bursary from a-n.