Artist Profile: Calvin Laing

Calvin Laing makes small interventions in everyday life; being bored is what inspires him.

Interested in the repetitiveness of our daily rituals, he manipulates our autopilot with amusing results (as in ‘Calvin and Business man’, simultaneously overtaking each other on a travelator).

As the ‘incidental person’[1], he uses an unknowing audience to his advantage; playing around with the control this gives him. He thinks of himself as a ready-made, something that is already accessible to the public, and therefore curious when it behaves out of the ordinary.

‘Calvin and Drylaw’ shows him running up to a roundabout and taking a slightly pathetic fall- like a Bas Jan Ader performance but narrated by a shrieking Scottish lollypop lady.

On some level you feel that the true work, as it were, is the occasion of the ‘happening’, but Calvin explores this, as well as the acknowledgment that through different methods of recording information is lost or translated by the different politics of gallery display. Self referencing- he often displays the films of the interventions, along side stills and re-enactments of parts of the performance. With Calvin as the protagonist, these anti-climactic happenings demand us as active participants, just as the unsuspecting public are in the videos. To focus so much on a singular moment, it’s potential and ultimate redundancy, Calvin plays with the validity of what we are seeing. His free and interdisciplinary approach is great.

See his videos on his site here, and images below.

[1] John Latham’s term for an individual (often an artist) engaging in a non-art context.