Keep out – it’s ours

I have a slight obsession with red telephone boxes.  Iconic and engrained in British culture, they are now virtually obsolete in their original function due most people now owning a personal mobile phone.  It is interesting to think that if technology had not advanced in the way it has over the years, would people be flocking out to telephone boxes to make private phone calls during this current lockdown?

There is something about this self-contained box that is inviting – it is a private and isolated space, but also can be portrayed as something where underhand or secret conversations happen.  I have been looking at ways that the telephone box is visualised in a sinister way.  One of the best examples I found is a Spanish short film called La Cabina which was made for television in 1972.  A simple story about a man who enters a rigged phone box and becomes trapped inside it, the unfolding narrative sees him become both the object of sympathy and ridicule.  Unable to be freed from the box he is eventually taken away to a remote warehouse where he discovers to his horror that it is full of other trapped people, all in states of dying or already dead.

I’ve responded to this by making my own sinister miniature telephone box which is inhabited by seemingly harmless organic lifeforms which protect the box from anyone coming into it.  I’ve tried to combine the rituals and icons of historic British life with that of self-isolation and the keeping away of anything that may encroach on this private territory in a time of increased tension and mistrust of others.

the phone box inhabited by organic lifeforms
organic being (detail)

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