Interactive Installation, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
In 2004 ten new countries became members of the European Union. This led to a new wave of migration from the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Unemployed professionals and skilled workers were filling vacancies in agriculture, food manufacturing, hospitality and other industries – performing dull duties in low-paid jobs, which British citizens did not wish to carry out. Commenting and reflecting upon the experience of migrant workers in the UK, Jürgenson developed an interactive installation that invited audiences to participate in the work within the gallery setting.
Pop music in the factory environment is common. While manufacturing and food packing workers have to listen to this music, broadcast with the aim of increasing productivity; dancing, singing and eating would be inappropriate in this environment. Within the exhibition Go West! the audience was invited to sing and dance along with the karaoke video projection, whilst simultaneously hearing the noise of working machines from the film Glory to Capitalism!, which was projected in the same space.
The Tower of Babel was a sculptural installation of TV sets, old tables and chairs, cheap utilitarian furniture, familiar to anyone who has lived the migrant life. The karaoke video version of the song Go West! was broadcast via the TV screens. The white painted TV’s were juxtaposed with colourful and luxurious still images of food, displayed like wallpaper. These repetitive images redolent of conveyor belts created an unnerving kaleidoscopic effect.
The artist was awarded a GFA grant from Arts Council England East for research and development of the exhibition.
© Olga Jürgenson