Do You Have a Secret?

In an intimate and responsive sound environment conceptual artist, Greer Honeywill continues to explore the inherent power of secrets. Do you have a secret? This is the question at the heart of a serial work that takes the form of a sound installation titled, Secrets (and lies).

Secrets (and lies) was first exhibited at Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne in 2010 and in 2012 at The Gallery @ Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre, Brighton, Victoria. In each case the sound loop was constructed quite differently and the secrets told were entirely new. The work continues. If you have a secret, write it in the confidential box at the bottom of this page.

In this ongoing or serial work Honeywill continues to focus on social patterning as she looks at the way secrets emerge from the patterns of daily existence and the human need to construct lies or harbour secrets as a means of negotiating life. Seemingly innocent lies such as the existence of Father Christmas and more potent lies or secrets that have the potential to cause great personal harm.

Until recently it was a cultural norm for certain events in life to be ‘put away’, ‘buried’, ‘swept under the carpet’, made guilty secrets, because the particular events were considered shameful, embarrassing or unlawful. But social patterns continually change and today the reverse is more likely to be true. Now we are more likely to embrace the assumption that revealing secrets is morally superior to keeping them and that it is automatically healing to reveal a secret. In Secrets (and lies) Honeywill explores the validity of this commonly held belief.

A secret can be a heavy weight to carry, especially when the secret is not ours. Sometimes a secret might be passed on by someone close to us who feels the need to relieve the pressure of the burden by sharing the secret.

He said I could not tell anyone…like no-body…it had to be a full secret…This secret, this knowing, I carry with me day and night…forever in my head.
From an anonymous secret, Secrets (and lies), Greer Honeywill, 2010

When an experience is exceptionally puzzling, uncomfortable or damaging it is often compartmentalised by the individual, buried in the unconscious, made secret for years until one day for no apparent reason…perhaps while walking with a colleague, or even a stranger, the story bubbles insistently to the surface.

Film Director, Mike Leigh was so fascinated by the act of secrecy within the family unit he made the film, Secrets and Lies (1996). In the film he explores the potency of a single secret. When the family gathers for a barbecue the occasion becomes a stage for the revelation of a particularly uncomfortable secret about a baby put up for adoption at birth, a baby never before acknowledged within the family. The changed reality profoundly affects every family member.

On a larger stage secrets and lies through the ages have had the power to unseat governments, to change history and start wars.

Honeywill’s art practice is often characterized by the act of gathering. For this project she has personally gathered stories and encouraged people to come forward to participate in the work, a methodology she has employed in previous projects. In this task she is supported by Audrey Studios. While each secret is contributed anonymously this in no way diminishes the power of the secret to affect the listener in the gallery.

As a guide the most effective secrets are about 2.5 minutes in duration or 450 words long. This allows for a clear beginning, middle and end, and sufficient detail to involve the listener in the narrative. Secrets can be longer but preferably not shorter.

The next venue for Secrets (and lies) will be announced on my website

In the meantime Honeywill continues to ask, ‘do you have a secret?’ If you would like to participate in the third iteration of this project please send me the secret or contact me through this site.

Greer Honeywill is grateful for the assistance of all participants, supporters and contributors, Craig Pilkington, (Audrey Studios) and  Erik North (Lev).

DO YOU HAVE A SECRET? Send it (secretly) to Greer…