"Absent", from the outside in.


Absent from the outside in.

Watching a steady stream of audience members slowing push the heavy doors of the last room on their journey is a show in itself. And what a wonderful privilege and responsibility to be a first point of contact however distant, in that moment. In the space of just a few seconds, a transition occurs from inside to out. An introspective head space jumps awake. This point is one of many transitions made by audience members as their experiences of spaces are transformed by the journey that Tristan Sharps has designed for them in his immersive, site-specific piece Absent, by Dream, Think Speak Company as part of Lift Festival.

It is possibly the only moment of applause/recognition/response that can be witnessed. After the piece, each one captured, remembered, or missed by the patient “hotel worker” who sits behind the last door. I watch people confronted by a room of no particular design but the bright light of reality. Yielding sometimes instantly, sometimes gradually into a world they recognise about to start their journey home. A switch occurs from involvement and introspection to an awareness of what just happened and their role within it. Some are gigglers, some ask a constant stream of questions, some wonder off, some linger and read. Some ask if this is the end. But I wonder if it ever is the end. When I tentatively joined the group led to the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, I spent an hour in there and my experience continued after I left. I found myself noticing different things on my way home. I had adopted a new way of seeing that stayed with me. Doors that I wanted to open, empty spaces and corners I wanted to look at for longer on my journey home. I even stopped at an empty shop, there was building work and a mess and an empty chair with a reflective jacket, I wanted to create stories for the people and places.

I wonder what they saw in me as I exited, weighed down by thoughts and feelings, not wanting to talk to anyone but buzzing all the same. On occasion Tristan himself can be seen lurking in corners, sitting in the bar, wondering the rooms. His stance and presence are one of constant thought, and revelation. I feel that the cogs are always turning. For him to experience this last moment causes an element of risk to their experience. The possibility of recognising who he is and altering their behaviour means that he often misses this little gem of a spot and what happens here. The realisation that something just happened is a wonderful thing to witness. Sometimes I used to get it when I was a teacher, now I hunt for it when I make and show my work. I see it in my boyfriend’s eyes and I find it in art. This is what makes the world go round for me and why I am constantly on the hunt for ways to explore the world and ways to share it.


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