Stroke – 1998

With Tanya Meditzky at ISEA 98, Manchester

 “The installation Stroke, by the Manchester artists Maf’j Alvarez and Tanya Meditzky (UK), got the viewer involved on a more subliminal level. After wandering in small cloth-lined spaces, I sat on a low stool to look at a screen through a hole in the wall. I put my hand in the lefthanded rubber glove and after a while realised that I was meant to manoeuvre a mouse: a pointer on the screen that moved in the opposite direction to the movements made by my hand. It wasn’t clear what I had to do, and the room around me was filling with people who started yelling at me. I had to do ‘something’ on the screen correctly before the locks on the doors would open to let everyone out. A voice from behind the screen asked if I wanted help and then informed me that I had to move the letters on the screen. I had to co-ordinate my movements in opposite directions and my mouse kept getting stuck. I felt stupid, but I kept on trying. Finally I succeeded and was rewarded with the message “I love you!” written back to front. Walking out, I found the screen, now the right way round, with a microphone on a wall near the entrance. It was neat and weird. I’d assumed someone had been watching me from behind the screen but, instead, the screen was elsewhere and the instructions had come from someone watching the screen in what seemed to be a public space. Realising, then, that this piece was about the illness, ‘stroke’, tied the frustrations I’d experienced to a world many elderly share: a world beyond the artists and academics attending this symposium to a world of barriers and of fighting to overcome them – not a world of terror.Review of Stroke by Sonya Vank


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