Working With Wookey: The Drift

Members of Tate Collective performing 'The Drift'

©Tate. Photo: Ian Kingsnorth

By Rachael Coward

Over a series of workshops, members of Tate Collective St. Ives collaborated with artist Sara Wookey in preparation for a series of live events hosted in the gallery last summer.

When considering a museum space and how highly curated and controlled it is, upsetting the conventions put in place allows for discoveries to be made in behaviours and unspoken rules. Codes of space dictate how we move through and experience the museum environment. The material presented to us narrates a certain story which we can then interpret for ourselves.

The Tate Collective’s work with artist Sara Wookey culminated in a series of performances in Tate St. Ives; called ‘Drifts’. The aim; to create a performance inside the gallery toying with the conventions of visitor behaviour.

The Drift. ©Tate. Photo: Ian Kingsnorth

The Drift. ©Tate. Photo: Ian Kingsnorth

The Drift:

A group of people move silently through the gallery spaces, they act as a single body as they move together. Their movements exaggerate and at the same time question the actions of the visitors; why not move at speed? Why not sit on the floor? Speed, height, gaze and stance are all explored, and The Drift evolves as new leaders continuously come forward and then disappear back into the group.

Members of Tate Collective St Ives drifting

The Drift. ©Tate. Photo: Ian Kingsnorth

There is a silent invitation to join, but are you already part of the performance as a viewer? They are mimicking your movements after all. But are the visitors aware of this? Do they realise that they are the subject matter of the work? They are as equally in the spotlight as The Drift itself; and their actions counter one another.

Space is utilised to the maximum; the floor becomes a refuge to sit, to kneel, to lie down. The walls become equally as important as the artworks; The Drift approaches and engages with both.

The Drift observes as it is observed.

It is a transient performance with no given start or end, like a flock of birds the group flows together and disperses.

No two Drifts are ever the same.

Members of Tate Collective St Ives drifting in the gallery

The Drift. ©Tate. Photo: Ian Kingsnorth