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Broken Watch

Bristol
Jo Ray
2009
'northcabin' was a temporary programme of newly commissioned artworks for a small, semi-circular operating cabin on Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol. The programme was developed to give emerging artists the chance to make new work for an architecturally unusual space.

Broken Watch
From the 18th Century idea of the individual privileged viewpoint, the lone figure elevated in a state of contemplative reverie, to the hidden, omniscient eye of the Panopticon, Jo Ray’s practice has often explored the act of viewing and its relevance to knowledge, belief and behaviour.

For northcabin, Jo Ray has created Broken Watch, a piece, which drew on the cabin’s panoptical architecture as well at its identity as a utilitarian structure, which in its disused state offered an architectural pause, a space in which to wonder.

Broken Watch consisted of a piece of apparatus which was activated daily by a participant for a fixed duration, acknowledging the economy of time.

The purpose and nature of their gaze was deliberately undefined.

The piece highlighted our relationship to surveillance and spectacle through this absurdist construct, which set up an unsteady power relationship, which continually alternated from one side of the glass to the other.

A performance took place daily at the cabin from 24th May to 14 June, 12pm – 1pm.

About the artist
Joanna Ray is a graduate from the Slade School of Art. Her practice is concerned with a curiosity about how we value, occupy and dream about space, both physical and imaginary.

By employing a playful approach to scale, objects, perspective and modes of interaction, Ray attempts to heighten the moment of looking. Her process hopes to draw out the complexities of looking or being looked at, and explore our relationship to “elsewhere” and others.

About the site

northcabin was based in a disused operating cabin on Redcliffe Bridge. The bridge was erected in 1939 and replaced a ferry, which connected Redcliffe with the City Centre of Bristol. The north cabin still contains the disused machinery that used to operate the bridge, which is now electronically controlled from the south cabin. Redcliffe is located in the old harbor district of the city, once a bustling district it now serves as a transitory space between the center and the suburbs. The space provides an intersection between road, river, and pedestrian routes.

northcabin opened up the possibility for other individuals and organisations to use the space for the display of contemporary visual art and is now part of Capacity Bristol: Temporary Use of Empty Buildings Programme.

northcabin was funded by Arts Council South West, Bristol City Council, University of the West of England, Spike Island Associates and Alias. The bursary programme was supported by Interface at AN.

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