Saturday, October 13, 2007

misunderstanding art and other viewing activities...

Dear sisters,
While you, sister uno, are boldly venturing where none of us has ever been before, and are having medicines with names sounding like asteroids administered to you (more power to you and thank you for the updates), sister tre was whipped off to Venice while sister due went to London for the art fairs (frieze and zoo), an opening and a good time simply spent with a starry friend.

While in the Eurostar I was preparing to find lots of things to tease said starry friend about whilst travelling, the reverse in fact occurred. Wont as we are to confide in each other about our embarrassing moments, dear sisters, a game we like to play, I must confess this time it was I who garnered ample material for teasing.

It had to do with a three-legged chair in the stand of a gallery jointly run by a person I sometimes translate for, whom I like very much in fact, who was not present (or maybe he was hiding from me). The three-legged chair looked like it was a four-legged chair. The rest of the stand had all manner of adulterated domestic items in it, a carpet with beautiful round holes in it, a cot filled with paraffin wax...; in fact it was so well curated that it looked like it was by one and the same artist (is that a good thing or a bad thing?)…. I duly sat down on the ordinary and innocent looking chair, thinking it was an participatory art work, like the one I had just been on in a nearby stand, where you could walk on a granite floor referencing Carl Andre (ooh I've always wanted to walk on him) and make lots of marks on what would have otherwise been a pristine white carpet. This was so fun and out of the ordinary in the otherwise stale-ish atmosphere of the artfair that my appetite had been whetted for anything involving input from the viewer. I thought the chair from seated position would offer us a vantage point specific (rather like the anamorph in the ambassadors painting, at the National Gallery) for looking at the painting hanging slightly above the chair, ie very close to it; I thought it might be anamorphous. Below the painting at eye-level, you see, was the fourth leg, sticking out of the wall. It was at the point that would block part of the painting if you were sitting down. I am always looking for ways to enhance/elaborate the experience and meaning of viewing. The painting was in fact by another artist, ie it had nothing to do with it, and although I remember the chair very well, the painting has disappeared from my memory. It fell of course, and me upon it. I managed to get up without too much hassle. The only problem was a bit of sticky tape coming undone, but I do not think the mistake/blooper was worth the stern and disapproving looks of the gallery attendants, despite my profuse and friendly apologies. Whereas all I had done was mistake the object for a viewing device whereas it was in fact the object to be viewed... Ontologically speaking, the chair was no longer a chair (or was it? When does a chair cease being a chair?) and I had had an enigmatic experience we could have talked about at great length. I could explore this question further but I think I shall perhaps let it be. Oh well. Gracious me. My starry friend at that point disappeared into a cupboard nearby, grinning at me, and pretended not to know me. I later went into that cupboard and watched a small projection of a checked table cloth being pulled off a table, leaving plate, glass and cutlery in place. That was the climax.

Then after an airless day walking around at the fair –and art fairs, I have decided, are not really healthy places for artists to hang around – it struck me there was an uneasy imbalance. Inside, a glitzy art world with works of varying quality vying for our attention, and a certain demographic make up of audience and sales persons, and outside, a completely different demography regarding ethnic origins. The gap made me feel queasy, and the real world outside was the one I duly prefer, although inside the "magic tent" there had been some (some) magical moments.

Luckily, I had another moment. Perhaps it was a letting off of steam. Who shall know.

It was this man, you see. On the tube. He was beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at him and grinning inanely at his beauty. I kept looking away, but also kept looking back. He was well aware of my admiring looks, and was looking right back at me,and he was smiling too, but I just could not express to him the nature of my gawking stare. I told my starry friend what was happening and hid my ever-reddening face behind her shoulder. It is only when we got off that I mustered up the wherewithal to look at him (of course he was looking at me) and shout, loudly, with my thumbs up: You are beautiful!!! He looked happy. Then the train whooshed away into the windy tunnel.

Such are the traces one leaves when passing through.
S1, I wish you rest and health as you battle on in bravery.
Love from sister two

No comments: