Willats Chapter 6

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S.W. I'll just do a little bit more. [leafs through book] This is a project from the 70s, 75 which took place in Oxford. What I was trying to show... to make a relationship between the institution, the art museum, and the world around it. This was the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, they invited me to make a project; I saw that this museum was quite connected to a housing estate nearby where people lived and worked in Oxford, but never went to the museum. This work was sort of exchange of realities between the people living there, how they saw their priorities and what was meaningful and important to them, and the world of the museum. I went to work with people over about 18 months. This work took a long time to originate. The idea was, that which extends the idea of the social resource program for a tennis club, I would develop a kind of contextual photography, that I would work with someone in their environment, home environment, their living room or something like that... and I would actually give them the camera. I will make sure that they did a good photograph. But basically they were locating objects, things that were familiar to them which they could articulate around a question which concerned something that was important to them about their life in that environment. That could have been something very simple: such as lack of social contact with the neighbours, shops not being nearby, very practical things. But nevertheless it was important to the people who lived there. In the museum was to be a kind of display of how people articulated responses to the questions posed by these people. The idea was an exchange. You went to the museum, to complete your involvement with the work you had to go to the housing estate, and people from the housing estate had to go to the museum to complete their engagement with the work. So there were two different audiences, people living on the estate and people from the museum,, but there was also a small group of people who where involved in the development of the work, and then people that who agreed to be represented on these display boards. But they developed the boards themselves, and I provided a kind of framework. And each of these boards poses a question to the viewer about... something that is of concern to the people living there. What happened here was you had a response sheet... And these responses were then positioned in the Museum of Modern art in Oxford. There was a constant toing and froing of people between the museum and this housing estate which never happened before and unfortunately has never happened since. [...]

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