Here’s all you really need to know about what’s happening inside P3 Studio at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: You will become immortalized in the artist’s work. This is not your average Vegas art exhibit, peeps. There aren’t any suits and ties, no rooms that are so silent you’re afraid to sneeze, and certainly no art that is so protected you’d have to be MacGyver to get a closer look. At Record & Play, the exhibit is just as much about you as it is about the British artist, Shantell Martin.
In a typical art exhibit, most people attempt to see inside the artist’s vision. Record & Play asks guests to look inside themselves and answer that age-old question: “Who Are You?” Not what you do for a living or where you’re from…but who you are to the very core of your soul. Sounds deep, right? That’s because it is.
The cool thing about this exhibit is that it’s not really an exhibit, although the walls are completely covered with Martin’s own exploration of that question – for visitors, it’s an experience. In “Leave it Behind,” guests unload personal trinkets or objects of their own choosing, with about 50 percent of tokens being of sentimental value and 50 percent a cheeky tchotchke (say that three times fast). You know all those supremely suggestive cards people are flicking on Las Vegas Boulevard? There’s already one of those. But there’s also an obituary from a guest’s loved one who was killed unexpectedly. Heavy, right? Leave behind something or leave behind nothing – whatever you decide allows Martin to examine the relationship people have with the objects they covet. It also gives you a way to unload the “baggage” you’re carrying around. Anybody else see the symbolism happening here?
If you aren’t camera shy, you can ‘record’ who you are on video. With the scan of a card, people see their own faces looking back at them, projected onto a screen. For those of you who want to “play,” you can sit across from Martin while you both sketch each other’s portraits. I opted for the latter and I suggest you do too – especially if you don’t shy away from a bit of intimacy with a complete and total stranger (it’s Vegas, we have no illusions about who or what you did last night). Just remember there’s no judgment, so the feelings of anxiety about your usual chicken scratching or stick people aren’t necessary.
I opted to draw a more abstract portrait, which may or may not have been a major cop-out, but the discussion I had with Martin was so deep I didn’t know how to accurately represent her portrait in a literal sense. So I just went with it. I was struck by finding such depth through utter simplicity. I see you, Buddha.
My name is now written on the wall, like all those who came before me to see the exhibit. A few people even came in for a second time while I was there. They had spread the word and were coming back again to share the movement with others. That tells me one thing: Martin is igniting a discussion about self awareness, within and amongst ourselves. I suggest you join the conversation.
Record & Play is open through October 11, 2015 and is free to the public. See more Vegas galleries, museums and exhibits.