Tina Keane (*1948, UK) is a forerunner of early multimedia art in the UK. She primarily works with film, video and digital media. Her artworks reflect a feminine aesthetic that combines femininity, gender roles, sexuality and an element of play. During the 1970s, she frequently collaborated with Rose Finn-Kelcey. Keane’s early works focus heavily on children and playing. Her daughter is the innocent protagonist in performances such as "Shadow Woman" (1977) and "Clapping Songs" (1981), which are psychologically influenced reflections of the self. She also uses swings and see-saws ("Swing / Alice through Reflection", 1978, "See-Saw", 1980) in medial conjunction with video and sound to invite visitors to interact with the performance. The play-element in culture represents the freedom of ‘homo ludens’ in the sense of Johan Huizinga. In Keane’s work, it also stands for freedom from economic dependence on the male order as explicitly voiced in her photo booth version of "She" (1978) through the phonetic similarity of ‘male order’ and ‘mail order’.
In this video performance, 12 women are shown in a playpen for the duration of two minutes each while they act and play in a way that fits their personalities. Each generation is featured, from toddler to women in their old age, crawling, playing the flute or measuring the space in the pen. This video recording of a live situation in Tina Keane’s studio was integrated into later live performances, amongst others at Franklin Furnace in 1981. For these, Keane herself was in the playpen, videotaping visitors using a mirror while Playpen was playing on an additional monitor.
Courtesy Tina Keane