A 24 hour project accessible to a wide variety of participants: patients, staff and visitors present within Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London from 27 to 28 July 1999.
In close collaboration with staff, and mindful of hospital protocols and sensitivities, B+K selected appropriate wards and sites within the hospital for inclusion in this project. For 24 hours on the specified dates, participants were invited to smile via invitations distributed throughout the hospital in the following ways:
- Posters placed on all the hospital’s public notice boards
- Paper slips distributed through the hospital’s internal communication systems, such as the Post Room and the catering trolleys visiting the wards.
- By hand
Thus participants could randomly select themselves to participate through their own engagement with the notice boards, slips of paper and B+K.
B+K was physically present in the hospital for the entire 24 hours wearing identifiable badges, like those of hospital staff but with the smile motif .
The resulting smiles were (metaphorically) gathered by B+K into a network of creativity and wellbeing.
B+K was founded by two artists in November 1997 with the aim of embarking upon a shared exploration and questioning of contemporary art practices, to explore ways of eliminating elements of individual authorship, to interrogate and test out collaborative strategies and approaches and the language framing such practices.
Consequently, alongside examining the language framing such practices, B+K has focused on dialogue, participation and process as means to challenge boundaries, expectations, restrictions and conventions.
Over the past 15 years B+K has gathered considerable experience of: working with ‘publics’ in complex situations; making sensitive interventions into pre-existing, conventional systems; and, involving large numbers of participants within creative networks of communication.
B+K’s working strategies continue to focus on fluidity, collaboration, dialogue and the participation of those usually outside the ‘fine art world.’
These strategies are ephemeral, temporary and involve transient, and often random, interventions and interactions with others. B+K’s activities are intended to be unobtrusive, almost non-existent and not entirely ‘serious;’ a means of subverting and questioning traditional patterns of art production, presentation and distribution.
The ethos of B+K’s collaboration is indicated by the use of ‘plus’ instead of the ‘and’ as it is more than the sum of its individual parts.