Naomi Kashiwagi’s Puffin Crossing Carousel: It’s Playtime at Cornerhouse

Polly Checkland Harding

We found out why the road junction outside Cornerhouse is soon to be turned into a human carousel…

Cornerhouse’s latest exhibition, Playtime, is spilling out onto the streets. For the opening weekend, Halifax-born, Manchester-based artist Naomi Kashiwagi stages a performance around the busy pedestrian crossing right outside the gallery. In honour of Jacques Tati’s 1967 film Playtime, which inspired the Cornerhouse’s closing exhibition, Kashiwagi has choreographed her own version of the film’s final scene, where an ordinary roundabout becomes a kind of motorised carousel.

An ordinary three-way junction ringing with music, dance breaking out here and there

This time, pedestrians instead of vehicles will turn around the circle of crossings at the intersection between Oxford Street and Whitworth Street. For half an hour only, making it across the road will become less about getting somewhere and more about the artistic experience. Both knowing participants and innocent passersby will be caught up in a kind of ritualised dance, created in collaboration with choreographer Benji Reed and set to Francis Lemarque’s L’opéra de jours heureux (from Tati’s original film score). How exactly this will play out, it’s hard to say – but imagine, for a moment, an ordinary three-way junction ringing with music, dance breaking out here and there, much to the bemusement (and possibly annoyance) of motorists. Now that’s intriguing.

“The extraordinary can become part of or intervene and wonderfully interrupt everyday life,” says the artist of her practice, pointing to an ingeniousness shared with Jacques Tati. But where Tati constructed a monumental film set outside Paris, complete with two steel and concrete buildings, towering trompe l’oeil facades and functional traffic lights, Kashiwagi uses the city itself as her set. And for one day only, you can become part of the production.

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