I didn’t love the exhibition that was on display at the Barbican, it was all quite product-design-like or interactive, both of these are not my favourite. However, I was stopped in the free exhibition that I was paying little attention to and asked if I would fill in a quick questionnaire.
In being too polite to say no I was escorted to a small table where another girl sat, I sat down, signed a consent form and we were then told not to turn over the papers in front of us until we’d started a recording device and it was just me and the girl sitting opposite me in the room.
The other side of the paper revealed 27 questions, we were instructed to both answer each question. ‘Describe your idea of a perfect day’ was number one and in a flurry of thoughts i blurted out something about having a good efficient sleep and a milkshake. As we went through the questions it became easier and easier to talk to her – Rebekah – and as we approached the half way mark it felt like I was talking to a friend. We both said that the one thing we’d like to learn most right now was how to knit well, we both fear death by bike accident and we both have close, friend/sister like relationships with our mothers. Now that I think about it for longer I’d love to learn how to speak another language fluently and how to play the bass guitar but when on the spot you say what comes to mind first, which was very interesting.
When we had answered all the questions and complimented each others outfits we stopped the tape and returned it to the woman who initiated this whole activity (who had left the room). In standing up and leaving the room together it was almost like we suddenly saw each other as real people. We hugged and agreed that after exchanging such personal and heart felt information we couldn’t not stay in touch: we exchanged Facebook accounts and went about our days.
If I had been told before I sat down what the activity entailed I probably wouldn’t have sat down as I don’t usually like public interactive activities and I had an hour until I had to return to school (we spoke for 45 minutes). It’s weird also because if this activity had taken place anywhere but an art gallery/art environment I wouldn’t have answered half of the questions as It would have been a lot less likely for the person opposite me to have been so like-minded and understanding, as my partner also happened to be an art student. It sounds like I’m stereotyping artists to be nice people but I think it comes down to my first impression of her being a safe, kind person to talk to. Anyway, I’m so pleased I wasn’t informed of the extent of the activity as it was such a pleasant encounter and I’m writing about it here as I feel it links massively to my project. I exchanged details about me and my life to a complete stranger and received her life details in return in knowing her for 45 minutes I learn so much about her lifestyle for example, she sometimes turns her phone on airplane mode for days on end to avoid unwanted cyber human contact. It was fascinating!
some questions I remember (not phrased correctly) :
describe your ideal day
what is your relationship like with your mother
a happy memory
a traumatising memory
how do you imagine yourself dying
describe a recent dream
talk about your life for 4 minutes
who’s death would shock you most
if your house was burning down, after saving your loved ones and pets and you could save one more thing, what would you save?
ask the person opposite you for advice on something you’re struggling with
what’s something you want to learn and why haven’t you learnt it yet
if you found out you were going to die suddenly in one year, what would you do
if you were going to die what would be the last thing you say to someone and why haven’t you said it yet
when was the last time you cried? alone? with someone?
when was the last time you sang? alone? with someone?
describe your best friend
if you were to become close friends with the person opposite you, what would you want them to know about you