I have given myself 24 hours before writing this to give myself some time to think about yesterdays ‘activities’ or apparent lack of them. I’ve received numerous messages from the other group all asking the same question “where is your flashmob?” or “what happened at Ikea?”. Well the simple and most convincing answer is, our flashmob never truly existed.
And here’s why.
Certain things happened that we are not supposed to talk about, but screw democracy, I’m going to. It got out of hand. Various members got removed from the store, others got barred and some simply just walked out without any knowledge of what just happened. We never truly imagined the scope of what we were going for in regards to visiting Ikea. It all happened so quickly.
The first group was situated in the bedroom. For some, it’s the most comfortable room in the house, but what that group did made it ever so slightly uncomfortable for both the staff and shoppers. They acted out a generic sex scene (under the bed covers, of course) with a unsuspecting wife coming ‘home’ to find her husband with not 1, but 2 males in bed with her. A very funny scene if you imagine it, even better when you actually saw what happened. I was on the other side of the store at the point this was going on, and it was so loud, I thought there was an actual fight going on. As I walked around to that direction, the general public were asking questions to the staff and each other. Great I thought, this is exactly what we wanted. The reactions of some were priceless, I got some great footage on the handy-cam under my sleeve, I felt like an undercover agent! It’s gone now, but more on that later. Shoppers were turning around, moving in the direction of the noise just to see what was happening. Human’s love to know what is going on around them, it’s a simple fact of life. When there is an argument or a crowd gathers, natural human reaction is to see what is happening. These reactions lead directly to what we learnt from Guy Debord’s theory on psychogeography. In such an enclosed space with access to the whole floor, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see them moving towards the disturbance.
My group was situated in the bathroom. Often the room of solitude. A place to ‘relieve’ yourself, clean yourself and for others a silent room to gather your thoughts. Now, this is where the flashmob got interesting for me, and we can take a lot from what happened in this ‘place’. We had already gone through what we were going to do in the bathroom scene. It was simple, somebody was going to sit on the toilet reading the paper and the other person was going to take a shower. The problem we had was that the bathroom we wanted to use was ‘in-use’ by the public and store staff members. That was until the ‘bedroom’ scene took place. As I said before, people tailed off into that area to see what was happening, and this gave us the opportunity to strike. The 2 guys went for it, they got naked and acted in there scenes. It was very funny and on the other hand distressing, particular for me; the one with the camera. One of the lads sang a fantastic rendition of Boys 2 Men’s hit “I’ll Make Love To You”. It was like a new extreme version of X Factor. Get in the shower, and sing the chorus of a song before the security can catch you. I heard more movements through the Swedish store, including those generic security walky-talkie noises you always hear. It was time to depart, I left quickly as to not be noticed with the camera, and I left the “naturists” to it. I never saw them again; until back at Uni, with at their disposal, the exclusions and permanent banning notices they were handed for anti-social behaviour!
A bit over the top? Yeah, I think so, but that’s what making a point is all about, especially using comedy. You never seen a comedian just sitting there trying to make a point, they are always moving around, using expressions and changing the pitch and tone of their voice. Lee Evans is the master of it, and he get’s his point across well, I never get sick of hearing people re-enacting his jokes. Now, onto the “naked” part of flashmob. For us to completely do these scenes properly, a but of nudity was needed. Thinking about it in more detail, was it the place for nudity? Probably not, there was small children about, and perhaps others wouldn’t of found it the same way we did. But I suppose that’s what being an activist is about, and in life you are suspect to thing’s happening that you don’t have no control over. Western culture is full of nudity, in print, tv and on the Internet. You can’t tell me that these children or others have not seen some kind of body part in their lives. It’s absurd. If this kind of thing was done in the 60’s nobody would blink an eyelid. If you look at extracts from the book “The 60s Communes” by Timothy Miller (1999) you can see that this was the norm in the apparent hippy culture. It says “In many communities nudity was practically order of the day”. But I suppose we wouldn’t have a swinging 60s version selling awful flatpack furniture for us to stroll around with our bits out.
I think we rushed the whole flash mob experience too much. 6 hours is not enough to create a spectacle that is worthwhile. After reviewing the footage, that was apparent; and after the senior lecturers gave us a word of warning, the footage is now a distant memory sitting in a trashcan on a iMac. We we right to delete the footage? I don’t think so, even if we just showed the reaction footage that I got, we could of made something really nice out of it. It would lead to that suspense and a few questions. “Why are these people running towards the noise?”, “What did they find?”. The truth is, they found nothing. Did it make an impact? Well It made an impression rather then an impact and now I have to live with those visions of naked bum cheeks firmly etched into my mind, along with the rest of the days ‘activities’.