The Bruce Lacey Experience
If you have to visit one show in London this weekend, make it The Bruce Lacey Experience. Preferably on Sunday around lunch time when the automata are brought to life.
The exhibition page of The Bruce Lacey Experience show at Camden Arts Center filled me with embarrassment. There i was visiting a show dedicated to "one of Britain's great visionary artists." Lacey has been making art for approx 65 years, he participated to Cybernetic Serendipity (the now legendary exhibition of computer art which opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968), worked with Peter Sellers, he had a show with The Alberts called 'An Evening of British Rubbish', etc. Yet, i couldn't remember having heard of him before.
The show has dolls and early toy robots, costumes of all kinds, posters, memorabilia of performances, videos of science fiction shows, props used for pagan-style rituals, etc. A giant penis is hanging on the ceiling. A room has instruments that measure atmospheric phenomena, such as the 'Homemade Sunshine Recorder', a glass ball which concentrates rays of sunshine and draws traces of it on a piece of paper. But of course i was there for the 'robots'.
The star of the show is Rosa Bosom. Or R.O.S.A. Bosom, the first part of the name standing for Radio Operated Simulated Actress. Lacey needed actors for his performances but he wasn't too keen on collaborating with actors. He decided to make his own electrical actors so that they could take part to his live shows.
He not only exhibited Rosa Bosom and her mate (Mate) at Cybernetic Serendipity, he also asked Rosa to be his 'best man' when he got married and entered her in the 'Alternative Miss World' contest in 1985. Rosa won. Portraits of the lady:
A big room at the Camden Arts Center is filled with these rough assemblages and machines: there's The Womaniser, Old Money Bags, School Days, etc. Each has a history of is won. I'd have documented them better for the article but the show is under a strict 'no photography' regime, and i didn't feel like writing down all the notices on the wall, nor could i track images of the individual automata and posters online.
I did manage to take a photo of the text at the entrance of the room showing his kinetic works:
They may be what we know as art, they may not be, but if they are not, then they are what art should be. No artist should live in an Ivory Tower of aesthetics. The Artist should be at grips with his life, with the essence of life, not its superficial visual manifestation. He shouldn't just be stimulating man intellectually, or emotionally, like a love potion or a panacea, for purely aesthetic motives. It should instead be awakening his conscience and his awareness of life as it is and what it is going to be, as we move forward to a frightening future, where man's very individuality and personality may be lost. It is the artist who must have his finger on the pulse to safeguard us all. For if he doesn't, no one else will.
Bruce Lacey, 1964
The automata- kinetic works are activated only during late opening hours every Wednesday and on Sundays between 1.30 and 2.30pm.
The show remains open until 16 September 2012 at the Camden Arts Center in London.