How many singers can you fit in a lift?
LIFTED is a performance installation inside public lifts, performed by choir, beat boxer, sign language interpreter and lift operator at no cost to audiences. Inspired by, and dedicated to ‘lifts and elevators on Planet Earth’, LIFTED explores how performance location can impact upon the value we place on musical experiences. LIFTED features different movements for each lift floor and aims to create a sense of wonder as the doors —the stage curtains— open to reveal a group of people dressed in work clothes who burst into song. The lift is the stage and the lift doors are the curtains.
By Emily Peasgood
I started creating LIFTED when I took part in the Folkestone Triennial 2014 as a volunteer occupying Alex Hartley’s VIGIL installation. Suspended 14 floors up on the exterior of the Grand Burstin Hotel on a series of portaledges, I sat and worked with my portable Casio keyboard to develop the initial themes for the work, whilst keeping lookout of Folkestone’s harbour and the town beyond.
As a child I often watched lift doors open and close, imaging magical scenes would appear when the doors opened. When I first entered the lift 100-person capacity lift at Turner Contemporary, in 2011, I couldn’t help sing. The acoustic was close and rich and I started thinking about creating my childhood fantasy.
There were many themes I wanted to express with LIFTED and as each lift floor features a different ‘movement’ I was able to do so. One theme I was keen to express was how as adults, we often take things for granted. The lift, for example, is an amazing piece of technology. We enter, often consumed by thoughts of where we are going, what we need to buy from the shop, or what’s happening at work. People, with intricate networks of family, friends, jobs, thoughts, feelings, stand in a small contained space—often ignoring each other— and wait, until they are delivered to their destination. They leave, almost unaware of the journey they have made. Despite its vacuous nature, the lift is a vehicle of transition from one place to another and that is why I dedicated LIFTED to the lift itself.
LIFTED also explores performance traditions and the value we place on musical experience when experienced in certain contexts, such as a ticketed concert hall event or background music in a waiting room or lift. Removing the context in which choral music is traditionally performed and placing live performers in a venue that traditionally ‘pipes’ Muzak through its speakers creates an interesting dichotomy. The lift has its own tradition of music known as elevator music, lift music, piped music, background music or muzak. Either way, background music is everywhere, whether we like it or not, and it is music we do not usually pay attention to. LIFTED is lift music that cannot be ignored: the antithesis of Muzak.
|17 January 2016||Premiere as part of RISK: 70 community choir singers + beat boxer Jackapella||Turner Contemporary, Margate|
|13 February 2016||Profound Sound Festival of Experimental Music by Folkestone Fringe: 16 comunity choir singers + beat boxer Jackapella||Asda Supermarket, Folkestone
Rocksalt Restaurant, Folkestone
|1 July 2017||Chorus Festival: 51 community choir and Voicelab choir singers + beat boxer Jackapella in 2 synchronised lifts||Royal Festival Hall lifts, Southbank Centre, London.|
‘I absolutely loved it – came especially to see it, and it was worth the trip from Yorkshire!’ – Audience member, Southbank / Royal Festival Hall, July 2017
‘I was making a very rare trip out to shop yesterday in my local Asda store and was greeted by your choir as I entered the corridor to the lift. I simply wanted to thank you all for making my trip out somewhat less stressful and bringing a smile to the rest of my day. The choir was so great I couldn’t resist watching a second time. I suffer depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome so I rarely go out and this truly ‘lifted’ me. Thank you so much’ – Audience member, Asda, February 2016
‘An unusual piece that makes you think about your thoughts while in a lift. True to life lyrics and thought provoking’ – Audience member, Turner Contemporary, January 2016
‘Liked the fact that the singers were dressed in work clothes and expressionless – just how a group of strangers in a lift at work would be!’ – Audience member, Turner Contemporary, January 2016
‘Very well performed, a piece I would like to hear again, as the words, music and setting were effective and dramatic – a clever idea’ – Audience member, Turner Contemporary, January 2016
Would you like a performance of LIFTED in your venue?
LIFTED can be performed in any public lift that holds a minimum of 9 people. Contact Emily for more information.
‘It was a fun performance and great to be able to use the space in a different way’ – Holly Hunter, Southbank Centre, July 2017.
‘I just wanted to thank you for such a great performance. It sounded wonderful on all levels… So fantastic to be able to premiere performances of great new work’. Karen Eslea, Turner Contemporary, January 2016.
‘I’ve never heard anything quite so fantastically thought out. It totally fitted with Profound Sound’ – Jennifer Parker, Producer of Profound Sound, Folkestone Fringe, February 2016.
LIFTED was funded by Arts Council England in Partnership with Turner Contemporary. Produced by Emma Wilcox.