An installation in which the oscillations in UK public service policy over the last century are re-enacted by an inner circle of electric massage chairs under the seedy glow of red, and then blue, neon.
Six electronic massage chairs are arranged in a circle, facing inwards, as though set for the meeting of a high council. Each chair represents a key ‘public’ service or industry: Health, Railways, Gas, Electricity, Telecoms and Post.
Illuminating the scene is a neon-style display, methodically scrolling through the dates of the last century (from 1900 – 2011), over the course of quarter of an hour. The colour of the neon changes depending on which political party is in power in the UK at that time, flooding the room with a different coloured light and with that, a very different atmosphere…
During this half-hour period, the massage chairs ‘switch on’ at the dates in which their corresponding service or industry was taken into public ownership and ‘switch off’ again at the date when / if they were privatised. Visitors to the exhibition are free to relax on the chairs at any point.
A Brief History of Privatisation was created and first installed as part of Ellie Harrison’s solo exhibition at Watermans, London from 12 March – 2 May 2011, where it was shown alongside two installations developed in 2009 in response to the global financial crises – Vending Machine and Toytown.
You can find further information about the installation in the Exhibition Guide.