LUCY SAYS GO
SYLVA DEAN AND ME
“Lucy Says Go” was an experimental public intervention intended to provoke questions concerning the nature of audience, marginality, acceptance, perception and performance at an established art institution. Through tactics inspired by the Dada and Fluxus movements, Sylva Dean and Me chose to adorn themselves in wearable sculptures made from milk cartons while visiting The Tate Modern. Fifteen minutes after entering, they were asked to leave without reason. An accompanying handler, dressed in an eccentric human costume (cat glasses with whiskers, a West African one piece, teal tights and white creepers), discussed with Lucy, the Duty Manager, what constitutes a performance and what clothing is appropriate for viewing “art.” This conversation lasted approximately 30 minutes while the two members of Sylva Dean and Me continued to perform in character (one completely covered in a full bodied wearable sculpture and the other in a chest piece, panties and tutu all made from milk cartons). Both remained mute during the duration of the intervention.
Intended not only as a light-hearted jest at authority and the Establishment, the intervention’s more serious questions were provoked through the reactions of the museum staff: Does the presence of an audience whose cameras serve as witnesses change the way people behave? Do the roles clothing establish for the wearer by design, meaning and communication still trigger an “us vs. them” mentality, classism, segregation, alienation and elitism? Answers are not given, but were observed through the action and reaction of participants and the public.
Note: An integral element of the work is the silence maintained by all members of Sylva Dean and Me. Therefore, despite the stylistic conventions of this publication, this description could not be written in the first person.