Review: The Installation
Report by James Cragg.
“In this next room is a bold and challenging new work by one of Scotland’s newest talents, Amy McKenzie. Part performance art, part social experiment ‘The Installation’ endeavours to explore multiple themes, including empathy, eroticism, objectification, revenge and in no small part, sadism. We ask patrons to ensure visitors are over 18 years of age and are of an open minded disposition. Performances are at 10am, 3pm and 7pm.
As far as understatements go, the placard outside the latest art installation in the Marianne Art Centre has to be one of the most impressive examples. Little could have prepared for this reporter when he ventured into this new showcase of “art” on the recommendation of my good friend Sarah who was helping her fellow graduate (Miss Amy McKenzie herself) with the show.
We five attendees (three men, two women) entered the room; an uncomfortably small, harshly lit cube, and were immediately presented with the spectacular, if wholly unexpected, sight of a fully naked woman, tied spread-eagle to a bed in the centre of the space.
Her eyes were blindfolded, her wrists and ankles secured tightly with rope. Resting on her clitoris were two, distinct wands; one large, bulbous and vibrating, and another, smaller, bright red and narrowed to a point. Attached to her nipples were tight clamps, each with wires trailing off and under the bed. And finally, hanging on the wall at the foot of the bed were five “control pads” each with a red and a green button.
A disembodied voice instructed us to each take a control pad and position ourselves at the foot of the bed. Once there, the voice continued:
“The girl is attached to a device which keeps her precisely at the edge of orgasm. Each of you in turn will hear a fact about this girl and have to select either red or green. Choose green and she will be given pleasure. Choose red and she will be given punishment.
I took a moment to glance around at my fellow visitors. Some looked aroused, others shocked. Myself I found my feelings conflicted, but intrigued to see if this was indeed real.
The larger wand stepped up its vibrations, and the girl moaned in pleasure. A few seconds later, one of the other men’s control pad lit up.
“This girl holds a masters degree”, the voice announced.
The man holding the pad looked around and laughed nervously.
“This can’t be real right?” he said. He pressed red. A whip-crack noise filled the room and a spark of electricity touched the girls nipples and clitoris. She yelped in pain and tried to pull away. straining against her bonds.
When she had calmed slightly, the larger wand resumed it’s buzzing.
We visitors stood stunned, looking at each other. I couldn’t believe this was real. One of the women’s control pads lit up.
“This girl has cheated on three partners. ”
“Jesus,” whispered the woman who held fate in her hand. She pressed green.
The wands buzzing intensified and the girl writhed in pleasure, shaking and trembling as the orgasm washed over her. After a few moments of reprieve, the wand continued again, bringing her back to the beginning.
The other woman’s control pad lit up.
“This girl loved all three of the men she cheated with”
“Doesn’t matter, bitch,” the woman whispered, an intense look in her eyes.
She pressed red. The whip-crack came again and the girl screamed loudly, swearing at the end of her cry.
I was nervous. I had an idea who the girl in the centre was now, and I wasn’t sure how to react. Could I abstain? Could I had off to someone else?
Conflicting thoughts of professionalism and personal relationships fought in my head as I gazed at my pad, waiting for it to light up.
The man beside me swore softly, his pad aglow.
“This girl would cheat again if the opportunity arose”
“Please,” the girl pleaded. “Please not the pain again. Please let me cum. ” Her voice was breaking and she sounded close to tears.
The man beside me seemed noticeably upset by the girls words and pressed green. She arched her back and cried out in pleasure, sobbing with relief as she came back down.
The cool down time seemed to stretch to eternity as I waited for my pad to light up. Finally, it did.
“This girl’s name is Sarah”
The voice confirmed what I had been suspecting for a while; that the girl we were torturing was my friend Sarah. That last fact supposedly was intended to humanise “this girl” and make it harder to hurt her. My mind seemed locked. This was my friend, a girl I cared about, had unrequited feelings towards for a time.
But she didn’t know it was me, the blindfold prevented recognition. And she had rejected me when I had attempted to seduce her.
And so dear readers the choice became obvious. The art critic in me supposes that this was the point of The Installation, to bring out empathy or darkness.
I pushed red.