Unrecorded future, tell us what broods there
For Intervention/Decoration, Ruth Ewan investigated the dissemination of information and the way it can either control or inspire the public. Ewan chose to work with the exuberant figure of Frome’s town crier. Rather than broadcasting official information, the crier made a series of short proclamations from Poems of Human Service by Gustav Spiller (1864-1940), an activist in the pacifist, humanitarian and ethical movements in Britain. Poems of Human Service was published in 1927 without copyright with the request that the poems be ‘freely reproduced’.
The town crier’s flamboyant costume and anachronistic behaviour made him an interruption into the flow of everyday life, but the replacement of his cries with the briefly declamatory and quixotic phrases appropriated from Spiller’s utopian poetry rendered him doubly incongruous. Echoing The Black Swan’s former life as a tavern, the crier’s printed proclamations were posted outside the gallery on the day of each performance, before being moved inside to building an evolving script that temporarily reactivated historical aspirations towards a more egalitarian society.