Working with text, video, costume, sound and sculpture Beth Kettel produces performances and installations that prod and stretch language; its meaning and its feeling.
Kettel presents a new performance grounded in an experimental text, continuing her series using and misusing elements of game shows. The Mist of a Pessimist borrows from rounds and sounds to structure the work: catchphrases as narrative hooks, contestants as characters, a colour palette setting the scene, and The Host, assistants and an omniscient voice-over offering multiple voices. Presented on the opening night, this performance will be video-recorded and subsequently projected in the Invites gallery alongside props and costumes, forming the exhibition installation.
Our very own (omniscient voice-over) Graham leads the narrative, talking about the three contestants/characters – An Animal, A Human and A Machine – as they stand wondering what to do with their wandering hands (don’t worry they will be put to use). Through common game show binaries such as body/brain, abstract/concrete, simple/cryptic, colourful/dark, Graham explores a series of disparate ideas. Meaning shifts and spreads contagiously across all elements of the work, as the characters, costume, gesture, sound and colour alter as the performance develops.
Finally the spotlight falls on the relationships involving all three contestants, where things get a bit silly/serious in relation to Animal, Human and Machine shape-shift through: evolution, selective breeding, genetic engineering, hybridity, bloodstream nanotechnology and microchip implants. The voice at the heart of The Mist of a Pessimist can’t necessarily be trusted (Graham, what have you been up to?). As the relationships between the natural/unnatural cohabitants are considered, an uninvited mystery guest arrives, the true shape-shifter, sharing common ground and dark secrets with all three of the characters/contestants.
Sound produced in collaboration with Tom Rose.
Beth Kettel (b. 1988 Leicestershire, lives and works in London and Nottingham) has recently presented solo exhibitions at Two Queens, Leicester (2016), Hutt Gallery, Nottingham (2016) and Telfer Gallery, Glasgow (2015). Recent performances include Caustic Coastal, Manchester (2017), Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2016), Jerwood Space, London (2016), (it's all) Tropical, Art Sheffield (2016); Trace Programme, Nottingham (2016).