Caroline Smith, Drawing on Experience, Tate Modern – 27 June 2009 from Oriana Fox on Vimeo. Camerawork: Richard Canham & Francesca Ungaro.
Drawing on Experience by Caroline Smith
Caroline Smith’s homage to Bobby Baker’s ‘Drawing on a Mother’s Experience’ (1988) involved the divulging of other people’s eating secrets, spilling and smudging the ingredients of their anecdotes onto a canvas on the floor. The piece developed out of private conversations between members of the public and Smith’s alter-ego Mertle, a fictional 1950s housewife in curlers who was stationed in a tent on the Tate green. Some spoke to Mertle as in a confessional, others gossiped or shared information on their life or the lives of others. Each secret shared was exchanged with a cake. By the end of the day Mertle had ingested numerous eating secrets which were then delivered (rather, regurgitated) in her performance. The canvas was marked with liver, flour, chocolate, eggs, milk and wine, but more importantly the candid and intimate details of our ambivalent relationship to food. For the finale, Mertle wrapped herself in the canvas, encasing herself with the remnants of our experiences.
About Caroline Smith
British performance artist Caroline Smith explores complicity and exchange and the disturbances that arise between self and other. She often works under the guise of Mertle Merman, or the elusive ‘Q’ or M. Abrakadabrovic. Activities such as eating, looking and confessing are reframed into ritualistic, theatrical one-to-ones that offer the opportunity to transgress. She has performed at many of the UK’s leading venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Tate Modern, ICA, Whitechapel Gallery, Tramway Theatre for the National Review of Live Art and in quite a few queer events. In 2011 Caroline did a performance series with Clifford Chance’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee network at the firm’s LGBTQ exhibition in London.
Caroline Smith’s website