The Art of Bottles
Although you may well have admired the bottle-balancing performance ritually enacted on the pavement outside Smokey and Bunty’s bar in St James, it’s unlikely that even with a bad head you would have considered this “Art”.
Think again, and not simply about the artistry required to source the raw materials for this distinctly postmodern Creole performance art.
Here in Trinidad, we take for granted such street performances in much the same way that tourists or Londoners take for granted the jugglers in Convent Garden, or the pavement chalk artists who’ll oblige with a quick portrait or an Old Master. It took an outsider—Heino Schmid, a Bahamian artist—to see the bottle balancing as an art form. Initially captivated, Schmid began to study the performance both from practical and artistic points of view.
He made drawings; studied the physics involved; dedicated long nights of research on the St James pavement to eventually learn the magic of balancing and then to shoot a short video of himself performing, which combines humour and sly commentary with manual precision. Schmid’s “temporary horizons” video, which runs for approximately ten minutes and features the headless artist’s hands carefully placing two bottles—the upper one with residuals which constitute the temporary horizon—before he walks offscreen leaving the bottles, which eventually collapse, was originally shown at the prestigious Tate Liverpool Biennale in 2010.
Last week, thanks to local artist Christopher Cozier, one of the 35 curators of Project 35, it was screened at Alice Yard, along with several other videos from the same project.
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By Simon Lee
Published: Monday, November 25, 2013