What a performance! New Gallery exhibition creates a buzz

A man shouting angrily into his phone, a group of older women getting in the way and inept waitresses - welcome to the world of artist Annika Ström.

The Gallery at DMU was transformed for Six Errands, a retrospective of five different performance pieces by Swedish artist Ström staged together for the first time.

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Visitors met Ten Embarrassed Men; watched The Inept Five make a hash of serving drinks and tried to get past the Seven Women Standing in the Way, who had set up home in the doorway. An angry man on a mobile phone carried on an argument in full view of everyone.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students and staff were part of the performance, with drama students playing some of the cast in The Inept Five, and staff forming some of Six Lovely People and the Seven Women Standing in the Way.

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The whole event at Monday’s preview night was filmed and will be edited into a film to be shown in The Gallery at DMU for the rest of the week, along with Annika’s notes about each of the pieces and the instructions she had given to the performers. People can see the exhibition free every day until Saturday, November 24 from 12noon to 5pm.

It is the latest exhibition in the fig-futures series, to inspire new audiences to discover new artists and encourage the artists to use their week to experiment, play and interact with visitors. Work by each artist will be gifted to DMU’s permanent collection.    

Third year Drama student Ellie Page, who played one of The Inept Five, said: “It’s so much fun. We are actors who have graduated and we are stuck in this day job of serving drinks and we are totally bored, we’re desperate to get out there and prove we are actors.

“It’s quite fun to play – topping up the wrong drink with the wrong drink, spilling things!”

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Each piece is a comment by the artist on a situation she has observed or a social issue – Ten Embarrassed Men, for example, was produced in response to the lack of women artists chosen to exhibit at the Frieze Art Fair. Annika said: “For me, these are all self-portraits. I think that I look at the world and people as very dysfunctional, I think!

“What has been interesting to me has been to watch how everyone has reacted to the performances as this is the first time they have been performed together.”

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DMU graduate Sarah Drummond, who studied Arts and Theatre at DMU, was one of Six Lovely People. She said: “It’s really good to see arts and humanities coming together like this, in this space.”

Actor Jamie Bourne played ‘The Upset Man’ who stayed in character having a heated argument on his mobile phone as people walked around him. He said: “It was really interesting to do. I have never done anything like this, the performance art element was really interesting to be involved in.”

This year is the first time the fig-futures exhibitions have been held outside of London. Previous shows have been held in Blackpool and Cambridge and after Leicester it will travel to Plymouth.  
fig-futures is supported by Art Fund, Arts Council England and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Posted on Tuesday 20th November 2018

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