Eyes Wide
(a durational performance)

Wearing an eye mask that shows a pair of open anime cartoon eyes, I stand by the automatic glass doors at the front of an art gallery during an exhibition opening event, and attempt to keep them open for the duration of the event, without touching the doors.

At first sight the piece looks like an abstract and ridiculous dance of some sort, with sporadically flailing arms and sudden unexpected steps. However, a second look prompts the viewer to acknowledge that the performer is operating blindly and therefore using other senses and instinct to judge when the doors are starting to close. As time goes by, the arduousness of the task builds up and a sense of it mattering to this obsessive door-person accrues. We begin to feel the difficulty and danger of literally attempting to shut nobody out, and the arts building itself seems to battle against accessibility.

Eyes Wide was commissioned for the opening of the Open Exhibition at Firstsite gallery in Colchester, in October 2015.

Images © Hester Chillingworth