In the run up for the first talk of the season, ICVL contributor, Francesca Cronan asks Natasha Caruana few questions about what the topics she will discuss in her talk. Remember tickets for this event are still available on Arnolfini’s website.
Your project ‘Married Man’ was inspired by the dating site Ashley Madison—an app that’s attracted media attention for promoting extramarital ‘affairs and discreet encounters’. What drew you towards this subject?
The project made in 2008 and inspired by personal experience and precursors to sites like Ashley Madison. I was interested in the media portrayals of affairs, the glamorisation and romanticsm associated with the act contrasted with the stigma in real life and assumptions made of the individuals involved, especially in terms gender.
You are as much a researcher and performer in ‘Married Man’ as you are a practitioner. Can you discuss the hybridity of your role?
The roles of researcher and performer are all tied up in my practice I don’t think you can differentiate. The roles you take can alter from project to project but each of work is heavily rooted in research. I meander through the subject often not knowing if I’m creating a future artwork. Through research an initial inquiry slowly becomes a project.
After 9 months, 80 dates, 54 married men—what did you discover about infidelity in the digital age?
The work was made at the cusp of digital dating, before the likes of Tinder and Bumble etc. It opened up the experience of an affair, stripping infidelity of some of the glamour whilst allowing the audience to consider the perspective and motivations from an alternate point of view.
Your work often incorporates various media, i.e. photography, sound and film. Your latest commission ‘Timely Tale’ raises similar questions about loneliness, desire, and technology’s influence on modern relationships, via a number of short films. Can you discuss your creative process?
The recent project Timely Tale which is on show at Brighton University now is a 6min, 360 film that tells the narrative of my mother, Penny, and the excesses in her life, from the 50 tablets she takes each day to stay alive, the wardrobes full of designer clothes and finding ‘Mr Right’. This is set against the backdrop of the NHS and is literally set within an installation of a reconstructed NHS waiting room formed of decommissioned hospital furniture. The commission was a very quick turn around for me. As in my previous works I drew from personal narratives to address more universal issues. Working with a team was paramount to the success of this project. Within our tight team I used a sound designer to create the ambisonic soundscape and a number of researchers to help find the decommissioned medical furniture. It was an amazing experience to all be working together to create the work in such a tight deadline – there was a great energy and passion for the project from all the contributors. Being part of a team definitely helped get through all the late nights.