Image. Naomi Fitzsimmons
Switchboard is a work created by artist Naomi Fitzsimmons that draws on themes from Haruki Murakami’s novel, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ in which a supernatural dream based character, the Sheep Man, continually and subconsciously appears to the novel’s protagonist. The Sheep man describes himself as a ‘switchboard’ that serves to connect the protagonist with the real world and the world of his dreams. In this sense the switchboard occupies the middle or liminal space between sleep and consciousness, reality and artifice.
On entering the gallery space the audience is confronted with a fully functioning telephone switchboard system run by operators, all busy performing their routine tasks. The piece merges audience with performer, as cubicles are available for audience members to dial out.
Similarly, in the performance ‘switchboard’ callers will be ‘held’ in the transitional space between before and after, as they partake in a performance that is never complete but always purely in motion; giving the impression of existing in the perpetual present.
Is it limbo, purgatory or simply a comment on the repetitive and pointless nature of everyday bureaucracy? Whatever it is, a sense of uneasiness will prevail in the knowledge that some unseen entity controls the switchboard and rewards the operators for reaching their repetitive ‘targets’.
Created by Naomi Fitzsimmons
Performed by Katie Dale-Everett and others.
Deptford X Festival, 2014