Fingers Crossed

A date is looming and it’s not for the superstitious: Friday the thirteenth. It’s the third such auspicious conjunction this year and this month it will be marked by the third Fingers Crossed, part of a series of Manchester-based contemporary art shows exploring luck, chance and accidents.

“It started with me finding lucky clovers, just by chance, going to work in the morning,” says artist and lead curator, Katarzyna Jablonska, “And then I began thinking about the concept of good luck and what it means to people, and how it is related to art.” With encouragement from other artists and curators, the first Fingers Crossed happened at Rogue Studios in February, followed by a second show in March at AWOL, while November’s show takes place at the Wonder Inn. The duration of each show is deliberately short. “The work’s only up three hours,” Katarzyna says, “We have only Friday to come to the space, set it up, open the show, and then take everything down.”

Featuring the work of artists from Manchester, Bolton, Leeds, Glasgow and London, the event’s limited time span favours the live and experimental nature of performance. Co-curator Sandra Bouguerch, for instance, will present One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive, inspired by the Plenty of Fish internet dating site. The piece has developed from performances she did in the two previous Fingers Crossed shows, using candles, as well as the sound of Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky. “This time I’m using a five-tier candelabra,” Sandra says, “And I’ll be positioning it on my body in some way and it’ll be pointing out horizontally. I don’t want to give too much away, but it won’t result in me going to hospital.”

Another Manchester artist, Roger Bygott, who is also presenting his third performance for Fingers Crossed, is working with portable scanners. “They’re designed just to scan flat pieces of A4 paper,” he says, “But I wanted to explore what a scanner would do on a non-flat surface, and especially on a body.” Tattoos, Roger tells me, are interesting images to scan because “The scanner does strange things with the tattoo shape. So I’ll be working with volunteers, possibly scanning tattoos or possibly faces. And I’ll be live printing them out on the night.”

Other artists taking part include Dennis Whiteside who, prior to the event, will visit the Wonder Inn, turn around, point randomly at a wall, take a photo of the section of wall he is pointing at, and will then make a screenprint of the photo, to be installed in the same place on the wall. Sarah Sanders will do an interactive performance using symbols to portray visitors entering the space. “She’s done it before in Federation House,” Katarzyna says, “It was brilliant. I walked in and she was on the floor drawing or writing some symbols and I looked at it and I realised she was describing me.”

From London, Henry/Bragg, aka Julie Henry and Debbie Bragg, will present their ongoing project about bingo. The duo, who describe themselves as “bingo obsessives” are interested in the erosion of working class culture, and have travelled the country photographing bingo halls in all their fading glory. Watch out for glittery curtains, loudly patterned carpets and lucky numbers. From closer to home, Jason Simpson of Neo Artists, Bolton, will install paintings made using dice to decide colours, and Jane Fairhurst, a founder member of Cross Street Arts, Wigan, will present work made from found objects, in this case plastic boats.

But Katarzyna Jablonkska’s own performance, Drink Deep, proposes a very unusual outcome. “I’m a holistic therapist,” she explains, “And I’m going to prepare a shifting-beliefs interactive experiment with water. There is a new homeopathic technique practised in Germany and Spain where you use water to introduce new information, or thought patterns, into your system. And water is a medium. You’re imagining a new belief is travelling to the water and then you drink that water, because water has the ability to store the information. Have you heard about Dr Emoto’s experiment?”

When I reply with an incredulous shake of the head, Katarzyna tells me about the work of Dr Masaro Emoto, a Japanese writer who claimed that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. He performed experiments in which water samples were exposed to “positive” and “negative” language, music and images. The water was then frozen and photographed under a microscope, the “positively” exposed samples creating beautiful crystals while the “negatively” exposed delivered “ugly” crystals, or no patterns at all.

So if you’re of a mind to recharge your body with positive energy, a special glass of water may provide the best chance you’ll get this month – fingers crossed.

Bob Dickinson is a writer and broadcaster based in Manchester.

Image courtesy of Sandra Bouguerch.

Fingers Crossed, Wonder Inn, Manchester

Friday 13th November 2015 6:00pm – 9:00pm.