Hearsay is an aural and written account of the ICA's history, a tell of
many tales contributed by different people, some who simply attended
events, drank a beer, or others who worked here for many years. It is
a mosaic of memories, a non-linear account that portrays the
institution as never before: it exposes the (in)significance such an
institution holds in various people's lives; it outlines an
understanding of the ICA from a series of personal viewpoints.
There is a voyeuristic quality to this project: how have other people
experienced the space, how have they used it? Have they witnessed an
event that has since become part of the institutional mythology? Over
fifty years have passed since the ICA first opened, and over thirty
since it moved to its current location. In a way, Hearsay is a live
archive of the institution, as (un)reliable as any form of documenting.
In that sense, it questions History, posing this collection of
histories as a possible alternative.
Patiently gathering anecdotes, bits and pieces that form that informal
- unofficial - history, Julie Myers has mapped out a new space that
redefines the public space, re-mapping some sort of collective
unconscious of the space. Here, some time ago, a visitor remembers a
first encounter with his wife in the bar, while a curator recounts
staging an exhibition for dogs. The institutional walls and corridors,
rooms and offices, contain that history although it remains invisible;
a virtual show that erases the usual boundaries that exist between
public space and work space.
From celebrities to casual visitors, from the handyman to the director,
all the contributors offer a specific understanding and relationship to
the institutional space, contributing to the elaboration of a
perceptual dimension that exists at the conflation of space and time.
Space and time collapsed in one experience: in 1999, one can walk
through the ICA's concourse and be told about what happened in earlier
times. It is not a nostalgic exercize: rather, the meticulous
assemblage of fragments that form a different whole.
The show exists both online and in the space, thus also confronting the
usual cultural construct that has been established since the advent of
"cyberspace". These two realms co-exist, inform each other, function
in symbiosis, not separated, as it is often assumed. The web site has
enabled Julie Myers to gather memories from other people, some of which
live far away, others who just would not relinquish anonymity. Another
map appears gradually, consisting of the mosaic of live memories the
artist has recorded, adjoined to the written ones contributed by
In the ICA premises, there is nothing to see. What the artist proposes
is just an itinerary to be experienced with a typical institutional
fixture, the Acoustiguide¨ wand. Here, again, the artist offers a
redefinition of the institutional space and its usual structure: these
wands usually compliment an exhibition, provide a context for the work
on display, map out a specific experience of the show. In this
instance, the wand IS the show, and functions as a link between the
visitor and the space, providing access to a different time frame.
The map is the only physical evidence of Julie Myers'
"installation", the card is the only tangible evidence of her work.
There lies her questioning of what is virtual and what is not. Akin to
the radio waves that surround us, invisibly and silently carrying data
(voice, bits, etc.), the work does not need to materialize, and uses a
device that proposes a different approach to a given environment.
Hearsay is part of the SUN/ICA New Media Centre's artist in residence
program. The SUN/ICA New Media Centre would like to thank the
University of Middlesex and Acoustiguide¨, whose support and commitment
has been invaluable in the development of this project.
The online component of this installation is at:
director of new media
ICA New Media Center