Throwing a party, like making art, is one of those activities we can attend to when all of our most basic needs have been satisfied. Food, shelter, art – that is surely the order.
But if we are to suppose that ancient people ever let their hair down, who would decorate the cave? With a bit of help from the shamans, you could say those private views got out of hand.
In latter times, say the last 500 years, art has sobered up but celebration has never fallen out of fashion. It could apply to, say, the reading of a mass in church.
By the by, the first recorded use of the word in English is in a 1580 in love poem, Arcadia by Sir Philip Sydney: “He laboured…to hasten the celebration of their marriage.”
Central to this piece is indeed a plastic bride and groom such as you would find atop a cake. They pose for a strobe flash surrounded by the residue of their bash.
If it is theirs… Other cues lead elsewhere.Pierrot hats and animal masks feature in few weddings. The discarded beach ball suggests that even the honeymoon is already over.
But the party is kept going by a revolving glitter ball and changing filters on a spot light. Strings of fairy lights animate the scene long after the guests have left. It is a lonely sort of installation.
What sets the defining tone for this celebration is a psychedelic and glammy rock soundtrack which beckons you into the party from the moment you step into the gallery.
Most poignant is when Bowie’s Five Years comes across the speakers. This now sounds like a party for the end of the world, or at the very least, glancing at a portrait of Lenin, the end of history.
What can it mean to go home after a party like that, the very last of its kind. In 2013 it looks like Chaimowicz’s empty piece is the celebration of a celebration. Realife (sic) has caught up.
Celebration? Realife can be seen in Glam: The Performance of Style, at Tate Liverpool until 12 May 2013. See gallery website for more details.