kiss me quick - it's the way i tell 'em

Kiss Me Quick - A four day contemporary art exhibition. The theme is on the experience of the beach as a holiday maker and also referencing the historic role of Margate as a main destination for working people on vacation.

from an early stage, my work was going to respond to this article i read on the guardian website back in february. a piece of work that is site and subject specific.

the seaside is inextricably linked with music hall entertainment and in particular the stand up comedian who would keep thousands of holiday makers amused and entertained for weeks on end - probably telling the same jokes, but generating laughter, merriment and a good time from a willing audience.

finding out that margate was a town in decline, i originally wanted to explore the idea of laughter in the face of adversity, and to use the joke shop as a backdrop for a film of locals telling jokes.

 Following on from the this way, that way film which looked at the way people give directions, i was interested in looking at how people look when they tell jokes.

In the intervening 3 1/2 months between reading the guardian article and arriving at the Arlington Square arcade, the joke shop had moved - the arcade slated for demolition - bought by tesco and soon to be demolished to make way for a new 24 hour superstore and car park.

This inevitably had an effect on my planned work - i'd planned to use the steady stream of joke shop shoppers as my interviewees and joke tellers - but now, with only one shop left open in the arcade - dave's hamburgers - i was faced with a shortage in raw material.

I decided i'd carry out the interviews anyway - standing on the street and asking passersby to come into the arcade to tell their joke in front of the closed-down joke shop. as well as asking for the jokes, i sort of automatically started to ask people what their thoughts were about the impending tesco, as i started to realise that the work was going to end up being about the similarity with the abc cinema/tesco replacement in Stoke.

it's interesting that the interviews didn't really work in the way i'd initially planned either, as i found those people who accepted the offer to tell me a joke ( i asked about 100 people in the course of the 6 hours i was there, with about 20 positive responses - mostly the reaction was "no, no way" or "I would , but now that you've asked, I can't remember any" were by and large shy and reticent about it.

It quickly became apparent that this was the wrong methodology for what I wanted to achieve. I think that I would have to give people advance notice - to canvass people in advance and to film them in more controlled circumstances, if i really wanted to achieve that fine scrutiny of a particular human response.

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