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Animal House

On Saturday night artist Edward Fornieles invited 120 people to Guest Projects in London Fields for a staging of an American college party he called Animal House

After RSVP-ing to a facebook event, participants were issued with character descriptions and asked to perform actions sourced from college blogs, American students' Facebook profiles and films over the course of the evening. Party-goers donned college sweaters, descended on the space and after a slightly slow start, fratted really hard. Filmed by five camera crews, twelve actors and one hundred invited extras performed scenes on loop amongst sculptural sets that included a bed, a white clapboard house and porch with red front door and a beer-filled fish tank. Guests were gaffa taped to walls, covered in shaving foam, stripped, groped and encouraged generally to just ‘let go’. Dazed caught up with Edward Fornieles in the remnants of the party the morning after the night before…

Dazed Digital: Why did you invite one-hundred and twenty people to get drunk in a room?
Edward Fornieles: Well the project more generally came about because I’m interested in cycles, specifically cycles in people’s lives.  I’m actually looking more at celebrations, because celebrations reveal what the concerns of that moment are in someone’s life, so the college party’s good because it represents or exposes this freedom away from parents and fuses this with intoxication, alcohol and drugs as well as sexuality.  It’s part of a larger five to ten year project embracing the materials of those moments.

DD: What’s your interest in America?
Edward Fornieles: I think the Atlantic ocean does a wonderful thing, it simplifies America, it reduces it and makes it all the more clear. America since the 1930s might be multiracial but it certainly isn’t multicultural in terms of the mainstream.  Imagine an American suburban house, you know exactly that house, you know what it’s made out of, you know about the porch, you can probably guess at the rooms in it.  Although we’re English, we know it so well; it’s like a universal language to a certain degree.

DD: What have you been looking at as influences for the project?
Edward Fornieles: I’ve been watching non-stop frat house films quite intensely. I’ve watched Animal House, Sorority Wars, Sorority Boys, Sorority Row, Road Trip Beer Pong, American High Five…but it is important to me that it’s what students are watching and engaging with now and documenting in their real lives.  I’ve spent a lot of time on college prank blog sites…

DD: Are you concerned that everyone else had a good time in the way that you might be if you’d thrown a normal party? 
Edward Fornieles: I think that having a good time, that feeling of fun, is a vehicle for people letting go so it is very important.  If you don’t achieve that threshold of enjoyment then you’re in trouble.

DD: Not everyone was getting into it right away, at what point were you like ‘OK, this is going to be fine’?
Edward Fornieles: Like anything it just takes a bit or warming up – needs a bit of foreplay.  We cling-filmed a person to the bed, that was the first performance then I think people started seeing that and wanted to indulge more and more then by eight-thirty it was really intense.  The bit I remember most fondly was where we were doing the ‘Shout performance’ (lifted directly from Animal House) and everyone got down on the floor and spazzed out. It was pretty amazing to just wind something up and watch it unfold.

DD: How did you manage to convince two people to have sex?
Edward Fornieles: Pay them money.  I missed the sex but from what I heard it was a bit flaccid, there was a bit of blowjob but no hard on, but I’ll have to look at the footage to be honest.