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  • John McKiernan

Innovation Box | Revealing Vulnerability


Feelings of anxiety about the vulnerability of the latest Innovation Box artwork was not what Platform-7 founder John McKiernan expected during the phone box intervention. As this post reveals, taken from his private Facebook wall, he found himself fretting about the latest installation after finding tossed into the street earlier in the day. There was a sense of vulnerability that was not expected and a realisation that ‘vulnerability’ has been seeping through this intervention from the very beginning.


This morning I have rare anxiety about the artwork in the phone box, concerned whether it is still there after finding it in the gutter yesterday afternoon. I feel like a parent fretting about the teenage child staying out all night. Shabazz [Chapman] was cool about the interaction, even pleased possibly, like artist Dawn Cole previously, [her artwork phonebook was stolen] she was very accepting of the fate of the work.

"At some point early this afternoon, the artwork was torn down and thrown into the road. To be honest, I was surprised it had lasted this long. As an installation within a public space, I was very aware from the start that this was a likely possible outcome. I made the work to start a conversation, so I welcome any responses or interactions people may have with the work.

The purpose of the piece was to highlight homelessness and at the same time continue the negotiation of space within the box, and this is exactly what is happening. A conversation without words.

The work was reinstalled this evening, and the box continues to be unlocked." (Shabazz Facebook 6/01/17)

I commented to artist Arizona Smith, who was in the office, how cool Shabazz was to my SMS message that her work had been removed and she responded, ‘well once an artwork is made it no longer belongs to the artist!’ So why my anxiety, is there something I want from this intervention not yet fulfilled? There is a sense of vulnerability that I was not expecting to sense and I now realise that ‘vulnerability’ has been seeping through this project from the very beginning.

The K2 phone box itself, 90 years old this year, is as formidable and sturdy as it was the day it arrived in Bedford Row, unlike its descendants that are generally wrecked shells. Everything else appears exposed in some way or other in comparison. When reading the stories provided for A Penny For Your Thoughts, there is a constant suggestion of reassurance that is provided by red phone kiosks. Probably not all phone kiosks; I would surmise when British people conjure an image of a phone box it is likely to be the K2, like our one, that appears in the mind.

So what has this to do with innovation? Could it be revealing the vulnerability of the instigator, the person who has to push an idea or invention? Maybe homelessness is being used as a metaphor for the exposure we feel when ‘we put ourselves out there’. Artists seem, in my experiences, almost bi-polar in respect to their work. They often fret endlessly about new work or direction, yet can be immovable mulls once the direction is set and the work is in motion.

Maybe this is the learning to be had. The project is uncovering the deeper intrinsic mechanisms going on deep inside of people when they embark on a creative process? In an hour I will find out the fate of the work overnight – the work was still in situ [6th Jan 2017].

John.McKiernan Platform-7 Events©2016

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