LEEDS INTERNATIONAL POOL
In June 2007, Black Dogs were invited to make a proposal for an intervention at Leeds International Pool. We put forward plans for several distinct artworks, ranging from a series of ghostly videos to hardcore audience liver abuse. The proposal read:
Our intention with the proposed intervention in Leeds International Pool is to facilitate the audience to reflect on the history of the building and its wider context (the city) in a critical yet celebratory fashion - a good-natured ribbing with games and activities to prompt conversation.
The point of departure for our intervention is the widespread urban legend of the pool’s design omitting the thickness of its tiles and in turn not being able to qualify as an official Olympic-sized pool. This insignificant but tragic unit of measurement will feature subtly in many of the works included in the intervention.
The atmosphere we intend to create is a discreet unsettling of the audience through the layering of past activity and present celebration. This will be achieved through the audience’s simultaneous experience of participative and interactive artworks and games etc that form a ‘real-time party’, and the inclusion of works that playback past events or ghostly traces of past activity in the pool.
An illustrative reference point might be the scene in Kubrik’s ‘The Shining’ where Jack hallucinates a bar and partygoers that existed decades previous whilst enjoying a drink and chat with the (similarly imagined) bar tender.
Initial works that we have discussed to achieve this atmosphere will include:
An invitation to ‘Drink the Pool Dry’. Audience members are served from a bar stocked with drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic if allowed) the initial total of which equates to the volume of the pool. The drinks are served in units equal to the volume of a tile. Drinks will comply with H+S.
Leeds International Pool souvenir distance badges. Sew on patches are given away as prizes from games and/or distributed through vending machines. The distances are slightly less than normal (ie 499.78m badge).
Participative (Pool) Lounge Music. The empty pool is filled with old pianos that a performer/the audience are invited to walk across. The resulting music would highlight the unique acoustics of the space and can be recorded or transcribed to form a document of the intervention. Close work with H and S will be required to adapt the idea.
Water-sensitive ‘ice’ sculptures. The space is decorated with replicas of objects that used to inhabit the building. The replicas are constructed from tile-units made from compressed soap powder. At the end of the event they are melted with water as a performance (party) piece.
Pool music. Using underwater recording equipment the music that is played at the party will create the illusion that the audience is alternating between hearing it underwater and normally (as when the radio is played through the speakers whilst swimming). All songs are cut short by small but noticeable amounts. This sound piece may also include field recordings taken from when the pool was active.
Projected Pool Audience/Party-goers. Life size projections of films made of loops of people performing various actions and everyday things in the pool (diving, walking, talking, watching) punctuate the space. This would have a similar effect as the sound piece - a playback of past events into the space, ghosts in the pool.
These are initial ideas that we would hope to refine and develop to create a cohesive and accessible (yet surreal) environment for the audience to enter into and engage with. There is flexibility within the work to adapt to budget or health and safety practicalities and still achieve the same goals. Similarly the duration of the piece is flexible. It could last for four weeks as a conventional exhibition or be split into a number of events (this would be negotiated by developing the work more closely with the commissioner).
Black Dogs has strong links with a number of other Leeds-based artists and collectives who we are keen to work with where possible (see CV). Similarly our relationship with organisations such as Lumen and Leeds College of Art and Design have helped us access technical support and resources to deliver projects successfully in the past.
The opportunity presented by this commission is valuable for Black Dogs and would allow us to develop our practice and broaden partnerships in Leeds. As such we would be keen to make every effort to realise the intervention to as high a standard as possible and are willing to adapt to any changes that may occur.