Me in Ladbrokes


Safe Bet - Nina Pope

I propose to encourage the 'audience'/'public' to take bets on who will be the winner of The Ulay Award for Women Artists. I will control the publicity and presentation of this gambling opportunity. The organization of this activity will be made evident through a 'betting shop' in the LEA gallery space. More importantly, however, the work should extend beyond the gallery into actual betting shops and onto the WWW; exploring media presentation (i.e. news coverage etc.), and specifically generated ephemera (e.g. betting slips and video 'programmes').
>Went to Hoxton to look at the LEA gallery again
>today and research betting proposal, decided to start at
>the gallery as it seemed easier than Ladbrokes. Hoxton
>is now bursting with cafes, bars and galleries, there's
>now even a free glossy map detailing all the venues,
>mentally I start mapping onto this all the bookies I've
>already passed. 
>Finally I walk into the largest
>Ladbrokes, slightly anticlimactic disinterest in my
>presence despite the fact my actions are spelling out
>the word 'novice' in a flashing sign above my head.
>Lured in by the ubiquitous bank of monitors showing
>S.I.S. Immediately start to imagine the potential for
>work piped straight onto these screens.
Within the LEA gallery space I will emulate the look and feel of a bookmakers, creating the sense of tension experienced by a novice entering a betting shop. A bank of monitors will display gambling 'channels' custom made for the exhibition - comprising of both 'straight' video 'broadcasts' emulating S.I.S (Satellite Information Services) coverage of races, and text based works (emulating the constant stream of 'Teletext' style prices and results).
>I read the alluring and apparently simple set of rules
>on "ACCEPTING AND SETTLING YOUR BETS" (10,000 being the
>maximum pay out for non sporting events, unless
>otherwise advertised). This rather destroys the air of
>mystique surrounding the whole thing, but in fact gets
>me no nearer to understanding the actual process of
>placing a bet. I note with interest that the wording of
>the posters implies most of the people who take your
>bets are women (there are certainly none here placing
>them) in fact my own queries are answered by a keen but
>uninformed young man. He has no personal copy of the
>'rules' printed in a tiny font size to give me, but he
>does offer up betting on the Christmas no. 1 as an
>example of a popular 'non-sporting bet' 
Safe Bet continues to develop my exploration into the space between live art and documentation, performance and digital media, individual practice and public broadcast (see in particular documentation of my last work DIY (gardening)). The piece would obviously pivot around the announcement of the winner and would be a fluctuating live art work up to this point. After the announcement I propose to consciously shift the project's focus from live art to documentation, developing one programme detailing the 'odds' on each artist (to be shown prior to the announcement) and one that presents the actual awards and the ensuing results.
>Third bookies - more as imagined - very smoky, lots of
>bits of paper on the floor, look at fixtures (red
>leatherette) and try to imagine them in LEA space. I
>envisage a 'messy' show, with no connection to the now
>accepted 'clean' aesthetic of digital work. The piece
>should have a clear intention but leave some ambiguity
>as to the context and authorship; definitely no A4
>explanations. Same posters and S.I.S etc. as previous
>Ladbrokes. 
The process of realizing, Safe Bet is as important as the final display. Much of the detail will be directed by developing a collaborative relationship between myself, the other artists (with their permission), the show sponsors and publicist, S.I.S and an established bookmaker. The level of 'authenticity' within the piece can be scaled in accordance with this relationship. For example, information about the competition could be piped straight into betting shops, or at the other extreme the gallery piece could be pure simulation displaying 'fake' odds. Dependent on a temporary betting license, the audience could place bets in the LEA space, or this could be done via a local betting shop by simply utilizing their facilities.
>Wander out somewhat dazed, a man approaches me and asks
>if I have a tip off for the Turner Prize this year. I
>feel curiously unthreatened as I recall him from the
>bookies (being well dressed and unafraid of eye, contact
>he'd stood out). Of course this man is a journalist
>(Express, City pages) and my mind wanders over the irony
>of this as we discuss betting and I think about
>controlled use of 'public' media in projects. He is
>suspiciously well informed about the S.I.S system (which
>obviously predates all cable/digital advances of late)
>and tells me that their offices are just behind the
>gallery - as he points out that this is of no actual
>relevance they could be anywhere etc. etc. I feel like I
>have just received a sign from God in terms of
>collaborative potential. I chat on, about it being an
>odd coincidence and yes isn't the area changing fast,
>and yes the bookies seem the last vestige of Old Hoxton
>and yes it must be all the more noticeable for him being
>a resident here of 12 months. 
If Fine Arts practice has impinged on the fringes of research into new media, and perhaps had a nagging influence on an alternative digital aesthetic, gambling (perhaps second only to pornography) has been the driving force behind the technical resolution and constant drive to deliver interactive media into the home (Ladbrokes were the leading sponsor for the UK pilot 'Interactive TV' project). The intended 'audiences' considered by these two types of 'content providers' could not be more different in scale or description - this project aims to irritate these contradictions using the concept of an Arts Prize to ease open this gap.


Safe Bet website | A Conversation with Anna Best | Nina Pope



Safe Bet website