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The Agenda
Exchange Project 2
Exchange Project 3

spacerPoster/flier for the 4pm Meeting
spacerThe 2pm Meeting
spacerThe 4pm Meeting
spacerThe 2pm Meeting
spacerGroup Portrait
spacerGroup portraits were later sent
spacerby email or post to all attendees

Richard Layzell – The Exchange Project
Richard Layzell in conversation with Tania Koswycz, 6 June 2004

TK – So how do you think they went, Richard? I mean yesterday’s three Public Meetings “in the historic Council Chamber of West Bromwich Town Hall”.

RL – I was pleased, Tania

TK – Say more

RL – Well, I had time for some last-minute thoughts, on Friday evening after going to the Guillermo Gomez-Peña performance lecture, and in the morning, yesterday morning. I made a note of some of them:

• be prepared to be anarchic
• Dennis (dj and mixer) stays for all 3 [meetings]
• make a movie (how I treated the café in Lillehammer – as a set/backdrop/material source)
• someone taking minutes
• keep notes
• inhabit the space
• all technical people [Dennis, Kath, Simon, Clare] become special guests
• be prepared to improvise

That kind of thing.

TK – So?

RL – So just about all of these late entries actually materialised. It was a case of the conception matching the outcome, and that doesn’t always happen. That’s why I’m pleased. Anyway, what did you think of them?

TK – I’m not ready to tell you yet. More questions first.

RL – Ok

TK – So, I know you’d considered your role or identity quite a lot. And this was quite fundamental to the piece. But I thought the key issue for you was to look again at the work/art overlap, so your role or identity was close to the kind of person who normally chairs this kind of meeting. Am I right?

RL – Yes, but it all shifted a bit with these late changes. They’d been presented on posters and in local newspapers as regular public meetings open to anyone to attend. That was the point. As the chair, I did have in mind someone with these kind of qualities: strong, efficient, eye contact, easy to be with, surprising, normal, wanting their [attendees] opinions, media friendly, informative, keen, representing The Public, person of the people, expert, humorous, in control. I even emailed this list to some of the key organisers at The Public on Thursday. And clearly you could identify these qualities with someone who’s a good chair of meetings, a professional chair.

But when be ‘prepared to be anarchic’ and ‘make a movie’ were fully absorbed into my consciousness yesterday morning, they actually felt more important than this list.

TK – Why?

RL – I thought you’d ask that. I guess I was hovering over this imaginary line between art and work, and at the last minute I shifted more towards art, simple as that.

TK – I can see that. And I wonder why it took you so long?

RL – What do you mean?

TK – Well, it’s seemed to me for some time that the art was getting subsumed in a kind of ‘correctness’, of trying to pitch it right. And, by trying so hard to get the ‘pitch’ (I wish you’d give up this industry-speak, Richard) you got lost in that particular detail. This was a performance piece after all.

RL – Yes and no. It was hovering, like I said.

TK – No, you said you were hovering

RL – It’s the same thing

TK – Is it?

RL – I don’t remember you being this pedantic before, Tania

TK – I’m making a point. This ‘hovering’ you keep on about is becoming a bit woolly. It’s time to either be more specific or less specific, or just accept that it was a performance piece.

So give me some process insights. Or anecdotes.

RL – Is this your terminology or ResCen’s? Ok, some practical things.

The ‘family portrait’ photograph idea, at the end of each meeting, was well integrated. The next stage, mailing out the photos as j-pegs or prints to the people represented, will complete the concept. This can be directly translated to the Private Meetings still to come.

The idea of giving people stuff, however small, was taken directly from my work as a visionaire, and more directly from large-scale company meetings, which I often facilitated. It costs so little to come up with some kind of prize, and a system for people to win them, lots of them. The prize, or gift, represents the unexpected, the reward, the acknowledgement, the irrational.

West Bromwich High Street on a Saturday morning was a treasure trove of gift opportunities. Polyanthas, busy lilies, green bin bags and a very fine savoy cabbage for the 4pm meeting. Fifty pence soft toys from a charity shop, raffle tickets, England flags and flowery hair clips for the 2pm and the 3pm. These in addition to the stuff I’d brought from London: green string, CD vouchers, felt pens etc. I also saw the savoy cabbage as an anarchic item and decided it should stand alongside my chairman’s hammer.

So, the seemingly mundane activity of purchasing these ‘materials’ influenced the final work.

Some random images:

• Throwing biscuits at the largest group, on request
• Playing the grand piano in the Council Chamber
• Reciting the 100 year roll call of mayors
• Dennis continually mixing for three hours and three meetings, whether his volume was up or down
• Expectation amongst formality
• Special guests are all around you
• The lurid colour-scheme
• The people who didn’t want to leave

Have I answered your question?

TK – Sort of

RL – And what did you think of them then, Tania, the three meetings?

TK – I liked them. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. But there’s no need to even refer to this ‘line’ between the ‘performed’ and the ‘everyday’. I understand why you’re doing this analysis-after-the-event and before-the-event, but sometimes I wish you’d just get on and do your thing. That’s why these worked for me. They were in the context of your work in industry, which you weren’t so precious about, so far as I can tell. I think your need for finding a framework, a context, a strategy, is a kind of justification. Who needs it? Just do it, I say. But do it with full-on conviction and people can see it. They’re not stupid.

RL – What do you get from our relationship, Tania?

TK – It’s all material to me.

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