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Pick Up a Tile, 2020

performative installation


Forty-nine unfired clay tiles occupy a room. They rest in piles, stacks, and rows, awaiting movement. These constellations might represent preconceived plans and actions. The unfired clay is a mixture of discarded clay from the ceramic studio that is repurposed and reclaimed. It is cheap. It is dirty.  Familiar diamond plate pattern is carved into the clay, creating a relief that would normally be seen outdoors on metal surfaces. This tread is designed to prevent slipping and is typically found on industrial materials. Using fragile hand-carved clay as a body to carry this pattern associated with safety creates tension and raises questions about perceived stability. The spaces between the tiles are empty channels, separating the pieces into a grid. I thought about the grid as a stage or a comfort zone, and wanted to use gesture and movement to orchestrate an interactive installation that would confuse static boundaries.  I began this collaborative performance by handing out a small piece of paper that said, “Pick Up a Tile” to each participant. Utilizing the labour of the hand, I used my interactions with the tiles to encourage group participation. The instruction “Pick Up a Tile” and my performance functioned as the control, and the response of the participants was a variable of chance. 

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