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  Richard Layzell – Art Work / Work Art

Day Three
Sunday 17th August 2003, 13.00 to 20.00
Park Cafeen





The Book Table
The Book Table

Yussi, Christine and Ingrid
Yussi, Christine and Ingrid

Yussi's carving, Park Cafeen in background
Yussi's carving, Park Cafeen in background


A day of subtle interventions. Sunday in the park. Weather variable. You wouldn’t call this summer now, it’s autumn. At the Park Cafeen everything is affected by the weather. When the sun shines business is good. When the temperature goes up and down and the table cloths get sprayed with rain business is hard to predict. It was this kind of Sunday, a little busy and a little quiet.

Today I wore the bow tie, later changing back to normal tie. I started to re-instate the two art-tables and moved the water flasks, again struck by the way sunlight passes through glass and water. The inside art-table or installation table or participation table started off looking much like the day before – a white table cloth, a couple of glasses and later a candle inside a white ceramic container, which gave out a different kind of light. The table doesn’t look much until you see it relayed via the video camera onto the large TV monitor above, then it becomes compelling and visually rich. It’s a table that no-one sits at, a circular space of possibilities where small actions are made large and the everyday object takes on a heightened significance. Cafe life is amplified.

The tables outside, under the canopy, were mainly taken when I arrived, maybe with the expectation of rain. It seemed intrusive to make the remaining into the second art-table, so I waited for business to die down. By then I’d had some time perusing the interior (gave the still-dry plant a second watering, very deliberately and publicly) and decided to elevate the status of the large collection of contemporary Norwegian literature on shelves at the back. So some of these books became the second art-table, a circular display outside on a white table cloth, inviting a different kind of participation.

I was still setting up the video camera when yesterday’s guest arrived on her special scooter, again hanging back in anticipation, again – I suspected – wanting to order a glass of white wine. I felt compelled to serve her, and also committed to fixing up the video camera and monitor. It was a dilemma solved by the intervention of Ana, who was bringing her the glass of wine before I knew it. But I wanted to re-establish contact, possible now outside the formality of ‘service’, as she’d already been served.

I began to circulate the tables outside, asking people if everything was ok, just stepping over the invisible line into performed behaviour, then back again as I reached the lady on the scooter, I’ll call her Ingrid. I asked her if everything was ok with her wine and started a conversation. As a performer, not a waiter, it was easy to let this run on into a long chat, no need to worry about letting the other staff down by spending too long with one customer. Her face brightened and she told me about her sons in Canada and America, and how her grandchildren know only one word of Norwegian (grandmother). This explained her excellent spoken English, it came from necessity.

As she enjoyed the conversation so much I had the idea of introducing her to Yussi, the Finnish artist, who was still carving wood at the other side of the park. I pointed him out and invited her to visit as I served lunch to Yussi, and Christine, the Australian artist, amongst the trees. As I strode across the park carrying my tray of Greek salad, cappuccino and apple cake, I became a bit concerned about the steep slope leading up to the other artists. Could she get up here with her scooter? But when I turned around she was already there. Five minutes later she was looking through Christine’s book of her aboriginal homeland in the Northern Territory and chatting to Yussi about his carvings. It was an international gathering. She would phone her son in Canada that evening and tell him about it. On the way back I made a circuit around the pond, now with a worrying film of green algae on the surface, offering service to anyone I passed. I was serving the park. My patch had expanded again.

Back inside the cafe I decide to change the ambience with some of my music, from Ghotan Project and The Cinematic Orchestra. Despite some problems with the on/off switch of the CD player we managed it. It sounds too obvious to mention, but the mood of everyone changed and grooved a little. The music also made an impact on the projected video image – it looked different – and I became much more involved with the video as a filmic project, recording several perceptual details throughout the day: light through windows, details of the panelled ceiling, my hands polishing glasses, the top of a red-haired head in the distance.

My special guests, the Kurdol family, arrived for dinner at 18.15. We were expecting them. I served them and also joined them. I guess only cafe owners are normally allowed to do this. Some of the family joined me in a collaboration with the inside art-table, treating it as a space to be filled with light, colour and texture, using cafe materials. This was the experiment with participation that I’d been working towards. And the fish soup was fantastic.


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